The rigour of a gruelling pre-season paid off for the Peel Thunderbirds when Kate Bartlett’s four-goal haul mixed with some outstanding work from Ebonee Hardie led the squad to a win in their WA Women’s Football League round one clash with West Perth on Saturday.
Missing five of their top six players from last year’s best and fairest count proved a non-factor for the Thunderbirds, who scorched West Perth to take a 14.13 (97) to 2.2 (14) win.
Peel was commanding in general play in the first term, but some struggles in front of goal saw them head into the first break just 11 points up after booting 1.6 to start the day.
The second quarter was a complete turnaround in accuracy, as Peel piled on five goals to run away to a seven-goal break at half time.
The lead was extended in the third but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Thunderbirds really hit stride, booting six goals in the term to dash away with an 83-point victory, securing them second spot on the ladder after the first game.
Bartlett was a force up front, finishing with four goals, while South West Football League product Bethany Bond nailed three of her own.
The win is made more impressive given Peel was without a handful of its guns.
AFL Women’s talents Katie Grieve and Tayla Bresland are yet to join the team, as is last year’s best and fairest winner Courtney Hodder.
Head coach Mark Fenton said he was rapt with the side’s efforts, but wouldn’t get ahead of himself in what promises to be a tough competition.
“We’ve worked really hard in the pre-season, harder than I’ve ever seen the girls work before, so it’s great to see them get the results going their way early,” he said.
“I was really happy with the balance we showed across the ground – everyone played their role and it worked for us.
“But we know this competition, and women’s footy in general, is just getting stronger and stronger so I think we’ll face some fresh challenges very soon.”
Peel also picked up huge wins in the reserves and Rogers Cup youth girls grades, making it three-for-three on the day.
The reserves managed to turn an eight-point half time lead into a 40-point victory on the back of four goals from Narelle Mcintyre, while the youth girls showed their class across all four quarters with a dominant 12.16 (88) to 1.0 (6) win over West Perth.
Shani Garrod finished with a booming six-goal bag while Sarah Verrier slotted two.
Next week Peel’s league side takes on the Subiaco Titans at Leederville Oval on Saturday, while the reserves and youth girls play Subiaco at South Mandurah’s Falcon Oval on Sunday.