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Mixed results for South West stars during WAFLW opening round

It was a massive weekend for South West women’s football, with several new and experienced faces getting their first taste of WAFLW-based competition for 2022.

But such is the competitive nature of football, not all players returned home with smiles of satisfaction.

Reigning WAFLW premiers Peel Thunder opened their premiership three-peat quest with a gripping 4.8 (32) to 5.1 (31) win over Subiaco at Mandurah’s Lane Group Stadium.

Trailing by five points with just over a minute left in the game, the Thunder courageously moved the ball from coast to coast — with Aisha Wright going on a darting run through the corridor, before guiding her pass to key forward Kira Phillips.

Not content to waste time, Phillips caught the Lions defence napping and quickly snapped a clever goal, which capped off a memorable evening for the Thunder.

South Bunbury product Ebony Bilcich finished with 12 disposals for the victors, while HBL’s Lauren Quaife (11 hitouts) also did her best for the side.

At Fremantle Community Bank Oval, reigning Nola Marino medalist Jessica Verbrugge made her WAFLW debut (seven disposals, two tackles) for South Fremantle, with the Bulldogs belting competition newbies West Perth 10.14 (74) to 0.0 (0).

Talented South West teenagers Alira and Leila Fotu also played their first games for the Bulldogs at Rogers Cup level.

It was a challenging start to the season for WAFLW contenders Swan Districts, who fell 8.12 (60) to 1.2 (8) against Claremont on Sunday at Revo Fitness Stadium.

Although they dominated general play for lengthy periods during the first term, the black and whites were a tad wasteful with their disposal inside forward 50 — something which eventually came to haunt them, as the Tigers grew in confidence.

This momentum shift was typified midway during the opening term, as some quick thinking from Bunbury’s Ella Smith capped off a classy goal for the home side.

As a towering kick soared into the teeth of goal, Smith was allowed to roam free into the goalmouth unopposed, with a nest of Swans defenders seemingly unaware of her presence.

Smith proceeded to read the flight of the ball and fire home from point-blank range.

Despite the defeat, SWFL and Swans fans could still take comfort from the fact that Bethany Bond (South Bunbury), Charli Wicksteed (South Bunbury) and Demi Liddle (Busselton) all made the most of their opportunities.

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