Sharks and Swans face off in inaugural grand final

Swan Districts captain Ebony Antonio and East Fremantle captain Evie Gooch. Picture: Michael Bain.
Swan Districts captain Ebony Antonio and East Fremantle captain Evie Gooch. Picture: Michael Bain.

A PLACE in history is on the line when East Fremantle and Swan Districts meet in the inaugural WAFLW Grand Final this weekend.

Both sides are in good form ahead of the culmination of the revitalised competition, which replaced the Western Australian Women’s Football League (WAWFL) format.

The pair have had the perfect preparation for the Grand Final, both beating minor premiers Claremont to seal their place in the showpiece event.

East Fremantle are the reigning premiers from the old format, while the Swans were crowned premiers in 2013-14 and 2016-17.

Sharks coach Nikki Harwood said winning the title in the first year of the revamped competition would be a special achievement.

“With only five teams competing and all the talent condensed into these teams, the results were unpredictable and surprising week in, week out,” she said.

“To win in this environment, where you will be crowned ‘best of the best’ would be a major achievement and something to be really proud of.”

Harwood said they were wary of the Swans, having lost their last encounter with them.

“I felt we lost our focus in some areas and sometimes didn’t do the simple things well enough. They have a number of key players who can break a game open, so we’ll need to ensure our match ups are correct but above all else we need to back ourselves in and play our brand of football.”

Swans coach and former premiership captain Kara Donnellan said the experienced players had brought out the best of the younger players vice versa this season, which created a “nice balance” in the team.

“To play in the last game of the season is why you play footy, so as a group and club we are excited and looking forward to our final challenge of the season this Saturday,” she said.

“For us, its business as usual and nothing changes…we have done all the hard work over the last nine months and we are ready to go.

“(We are) training as normal this week with review and opponent analysis, which will ensure that we are all prepared and ready to take on East Fremantle.”

Having finished second in the league this season, the Sharks may enter the game as favourites and Harwood said defensive pressure and being ruthless in front of goal would be key to success.

“Our pressure around the ball has been our trademark recently so that needs to be a feature of our game on Saturday,” she said.

“We are a side that can usually generate a high number of inside 50 entries so we’ll need to capitalise on our entries and convert our shots on goal.”

Donnellan said the Sharks have been the team to beat this season, but backed her players to get the job done.

“They are a tough outfit, well-drilled and well-structured. It is always a great contest between the two sides, so this one I’m sure won’t disappoint.

“We have a great group of players that have been playing some really good footy over the last month.

“We feel like we are hitting our form at the right end of the season so we have to back ourselves in – I’m excited to see what the players bring on the weekend.”

The Grand Final takes place at Mineral Resources Park in Lathlain on Saturday. Bounce down is 2.35pm.

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