Challengers put forward finals claims as Chapman Valley get on the board

Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Jessica Guidice-Nairn led the way once again to help the Hawks to an upset victory over the Rams.
Camera IconJessica Guidice-Nairn led the way once again to help the Hawks to an upset victory over the Rams. Credit: Jake Santa Maria

Season 2023 could be the most open in GNWFL history as Brigades and Railways claimed upset wins over their more fancied rivals.

First up Brigades stunned the Rams 5.3 (33) to 1.2 (8) as they look the best they’ve been since claiming the 2020 premiership.

Brigades had put Rovers to the sword last week but were the underdogs having lost all three games to the Rams last season who had just knocked off the reigning premiers the week prior.

But the Hawks showed they have the talent to match it with the best this year as Jessica Guidice-Nairn once again led from the front with another influential performance.

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The Rams were kept scoreless in the opening quarter as Breeanna Hamlett hit the scoreboard early with few in the competition capable of matching her speed.

It wasn’t as much of a procession as their game against the Demons but they were dominating the contest as they took a 12-point lead into the first break.

Northampton improved in the second to hit the scoreboard but the contest was even as Asha Poletti and Sienna Forsyth were matched by Hawks Claire Garnaut and Hailee Horsman.

Maddi Miller was forced further up the ground with Selina Kiddle back to work as deep forward but the Rams could do little more than break even at the contest.

Hawks put the game to bed in the third quarter as Rams were held scoreless again while Gemma Dix and Tenae Harrington added goals to grab a 27-point lead at the final change.

As the rain set in the contest became more of a rolling maul with the Rams adding a single point, the only score as Hawks became the surprise ladder leaders after two rounds.

At the Recreation Ground, Railways got their season off to a winning start with their own upset over Towns 2.6 (18) to 1.2 (8).

The Blues were comfortably the fourth-best team last year, easily better than those below but lacking the firepower to match it with the top three.

However, the wet conditions played in their favour as they were able to keep the ball in contest with Towns unable to use their arguably better foot skills.

Jasmine Johansen, fresh off her WAFL debut, enjoyed a strong game and kicked one of the game’s only two goals and matching her counterpart Olivia Bidwell, who picked up another best-player nomination.

The Blues kept Towns scoreless until the third quarter and were able to find a second through Kylie Latham to maintain a 10-point advantage.

Tarnee Tester, Jaime-Lee Gregory-Smith, Ciara Lydiate and Ashleigh Walker were all impressive for Railways as they claimed a 10-point win.

Out in the valley, the Royals got on the board and then some against a hapless Saints 9.8 (62) to 0.

Having been held scoreless in their opening game the Royals wasted no time getting up to speed in game two with 2.3 in the opening quarter.

Taylah Broadhurst was dominating out of the middle as the ball lived inside the Royals’ half, although their forward entries still left room for improvement.

Jessie Wallace found lots of ball for Mullewa holding together their defence but there were seldom good opportunities to use it, with hack kicks their best way of moving the ball forward.

Brooke Elward led the scorers with three while Jess Patterson had two as the Royals’ weight of numbers eventually pushed through, with the Guardian’s own Jessica Moroney capping it off with a goal on debut.

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