WAFLW: Peel Thunder forward Kate Bartlett stakes AFLW claim with seven goals against South Fremantle
Peel Thunder coach Steve Markham is grateful for every game he gets out of Kate Bartlett, knowing the WAFLW leading goal kicker has given herself every chance of earning an AFLW recall.
The 22-year-old kicked seven goals in Peel’s 9.7 (61) to 7.5 (47) victory over South Fremantle, taking her season tally to 35 goals from 10 games.
Bartlett has already twice been listed and let go by the Western Bulldogs and West Coast.
But Markham believes the spearhead’s form over the past two seasons has warranted another AFLW opportunity, as much as the Thunder don’t want to lose her.
“I don’t want to lose her but she’s a superstar. I think she’s taken her game to another level this year,” Markham said.
“Her ability to break a line and free the legs up to kick around corners and evade tackles. Her work rate to chase and help lock the ball in has been immense as well.
“She’s been drafted twice but she spent a lot of time at the Eagles over pre-season as a train-on and it’s given her that real hunger to get back there again.
“Her fitness is as good as it’s ever been. She’s prepared to do the hard work now.”
The ever-improving Bulldogs led by as much as 20 points during the third quarter but Peel kicked the next six goals to wrestle back the lead and strengthen their claim to a spot in finals.
With four games to play, Markham said Peel had the potential to win a third straight premiership.
“It’s been a difficult year,” he said.
“COVID has affected us massively. We’ve usually had six or seven changes each week.”
“I’d like to think we’re over the worst of it so now we can settle our side and build.
“Our best footy is good enough to go with anyone in the competition. We just need to string it together for four quarters.”
Peel are set to be bolstered by the return of WA’s leading draft prospect Ella Roberts.
“It’s another challenge for us to figure out where her best fit is.
“Does she play up forward or can we put her on ball? It’s something we’ll have to work through, it’ll just be good to have her back playing in the WAFLW.”
Also in round 13, East Fremantle defeated West Perth 14.9 (93) to 0.2 (2) and Subiaco kept their finals hopes alive with a 6.9 (45) to 4.4 (28) win over Swan Districts.
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