THE five-team race to claim the final spot in the top five was reduced to three after Round 19 in the WAFL Colts, but which two teams crashed out of contention and who kept their hopes alive?
Read ahead to find out the details.
Round 19 WAFL Colts Wrap:
South Fremantle 8.7(55) defeated Swan Districts 3.11(29)
South Fremantle took one big step in securing the final position in the top five with a perfectly executed 26-point win against Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval.
Chilly but clear conditions greeted the teams in this pivotal encounter for both sides. After a promising early couple of minutes by the home team, South Fremantle then dominated field position for the next period of time leading to the first goal of the game by Luke Moore. The forward entries by both teams were on the scrappy side and therefore were not giving their key forwards the best chance to convert, but it was a real contested game of footy with every player made to earn their possessions.
Great forward line pressure by Aiden Cartwright led to a holding the ball decision and the first goal of the game for Swans. While it was a quarter lacking in highlights in the true sense of the word, the closeness of the contest was indisputable with scores locked at 1.1 at quarter time. A pin-point kick by Toby McQuilkin set up Nash Miller for his first to put the visitors back in front. South Fremantle dominated the first five minutes of the term with six inside 50s and Swans not being able to take the ball forward from the centre square.
The scrappy nature of the contest continued in the second term and Swans were clearly striving to get their running game into action but the fantastic pressure of South Fremantle was preventing that from happening. That pressure proved pivotal once again as Callum Narkle was the beneficiary of some great work from his teammates to kick the major from close range. Whenever Swan Districts did bring the ball into their forward line they were forced wide which made scoring goals harder to execute.
The half-time margin of 10 points may have looked slender on paper, but the game was certainly played on South Fremantle’s terms and Swans had plenty of work to do to create some clear goal scoring opportunities. The willingness of the contest continued in the third term, and it was the visitors who took their opportunities when Jack Redman swooped on the loose ball and snapped truly to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game. A rare forward thrust by Swans saw Jack Allen take a mark but when his side needed a goal, he hit the post and South Fremantle raced down the other end where Lachlan Feeney kicked truly and that was the story of the contest in a nutshell.
The game was now at real danger of getting away from Swans as they just could not get any momentum going, while South were growing in confidence by the minute. With a quarter to play, South Fremantle had a 22-point lead which in all honesty felt a whole lot more. The sealer was kicked at the six mark of the final term by Ira Jetta and that was soon followed by a second of the day to Feeney. While their percentage was already strong compared to their rivals chasing the final spot in the top four, this was a added bonus.
The defensive group of South Fremantle led by James Russell, Joshua Grant and Jacob Sax were unsung heroes who marshalled the defensive 50 superbly. The icing on a delicious cake was delivered by Braiden Quartermaine who sold the dummy to his opponent and set sail from 40 metres straight through the middle. A belated goal for Swans then arrived through a direct kick into the 50, which set up Atem Deng on the spot to convert from close range which incredibly was their first goal for three quarters. Some further smart and direct play by Swans led to a goal by Denver Grainger-Barras but it was far too little too late for Swan Districts who fell to their eighth defeat of the season.
The pressure of South Fremantle was superb all around the ground highlighted by their advantage in tackles (78-69) and their physical presence led to plenty of turnovers which allowed the Bulldogs to generate a lot more inside 50 entries (53-32). South Fremantle can seal their spot in the finals as soon as next week with a victory against one of their pursuers in Perth and in addition to that, if Peel can defeat Claremont, the Bulldogs will be bound for September action.
Enrique Aitken-Featherstone was a key element of that as one of the leaders of the Bulldogs on-ball brigade had eight tackles to go along 26 disposals while Mcquilkin was important with his powerful running gathering 18 disposals, and Joshua Grant was a rock solid defensive figure with 11 disposals, five tackles and three marks. While his delivery left a bit to be desired in the first half, Deng could held his head high for Swan Districts with his second half display finishing with 23 disposals, three marks and a goal. The versatile 16 year-old Grainger-Barras was solid with 13 disposals, eight marks and a goal.
Claremont 8.8 (56) defeated Perth 7.7 (49)
Claremont kept their finals flame flickering with a vital seven-point win. No more than a goal separated both teams throughout the contest and with their season well and truly on the line two late majors saw the Tigers run out seven point winners.
The contributions of 15 year-old Joel Western (20 disposals and two goals) and Jack Monaghan (16 disposals and two goals) were pivotal to the end result. Claremont need to remain in a must win mindset for the final fortnight of the home and away season in their quest to play finals in 2018. Because of their poor percentage (78.8) they need to win both their games (against Peel and Swans) and hope the Bulldogs lose both of their games.
Despite the loss, Perth remain In the hunt to claim the fifth spot and face a early elimination final against the Bulldogs at Fremantle Oval next Saturday. Bailey Smith had 22 disposals and six marks and four tackles and Zac Casey was a tireless worker with 11 tackles to go along with 21 disposals for the Demons.
East Fremantle 15.5.(95) defeated East Perth 6.5 (41)
Defending premiers East Fremantle moved one step closer to sealing a double chance with a emphatic 54 point win against East Perth at Leederville Oval. It was a superb performance by the Sharks who won all four quarters and remain a very slim chance of snaring a top two berth with two rounds remaining. The Sharks will have to win both their games against Subiaco and South Fremantle and because of Peel’s big percentage advantage (140-111 per cent) will require the Thunder to drop both their games against Claremont and East Perth which seems highly unlikely on the face of things but funnier things have been known to occur in footy.
Dylan Curley was a great focal point for the Sharks with 19 disposals, nine marks and four goals and was well supported by top ager Cody Smith with three goals along with 20 disposals six tackles and five marks and Tom Wright who racked up a outstanding 18 tackles. With the heavy loss, East Perth have been eliminated from the finals race which will come as a real blow as they were the 2016 Grand Finalists and made the Preliminary Final last year. Thomas Baulch has been a standout performer of the very poor campaign for the Royals and it was illustrated once again on Saturday with 34 disposals and 10 marks.
Subiaco 12.12 (84) defeated West Perth 3.5(23)
Subiaco has one and a half hands on the minor premiership after stretching their winning streak their to nine games with a 61-point win over West Perth and also ended the Falcons’ finals hopes. The first half was a relatively even affair with Subiaco leading by 16 points, the second half was a different story as the Lions put West Perth to the sword outscoring their opponents 7.6 to three behinds. While the Lions kicked just the 12 goals, they had four multiple goalkickers with bottom-ager Trey Kennedy and the ever-reliable Jack Mayo kicking three goals while Benjamin Golding had 22 disposals and kicked two goals. The Lions had further strong contributions from Liam Hickmott who was a real ball magnet with 36 disposals and nine tackles and he was well supported by Tristan Hobley with 30 disposals.
Subiaco has a two-game lead plus a 13 per cent advantage over Peel with each team having a couple games left. While the old phrase ‘mathematically possible’ currently comes into play, one more win will completely seal the minor premiership for Subiaco. For West Perth, Daniel Rowe was full of endeavour with 23 disposals and nine tackles.