Western Australia weekly wrap: Final five locked in for September

ROUND 20 loomed as the most important weekend of the Colts season to date with a number of teams fighting for the opportunity to play in September, that special time of year when reputations are made.

Which teams coped best with the pressure?

Read ahead to find out.

Round 20 WAFL Colts wrap.

South Fremantle 11.10 (76) defeated Perth 5.6 (36)

South Fremantle have sealed their spot in the 2018 WAFL Colts finals courtesy of a emphatic 40 point win over Perth at Fremantle Oval on Saturday morning.

The Bulldogs controlled the early stages of the vital contest kicking goals through Nash Miller and Ira Jetta but Perth steadied through Ben Watson. The Bulldogs slightly increased their lead to 13 points at the long break courtesy of a three goal to two second quarter. The third term is widely regarded as the most pivotal of the game and so it proved again with the Bulldogs kicking the first two goals through Jetta and Luke Moore. Although the Demons were striving hard to find a path back into the contest, it was the rock solid defence of the Bulldogs who were repeatedly repelling the visitors. The home side turned for home with a 26 point lead which in all truth felt a lot more and the last quarter finally saw the Bulldogs emphasise their superiority as they kicked four goals to two and completed a 40 point win.

The victory was the third in the last four games for the Bulldogs and while some may say you do not deserve to play finals with a losing record, the Bulldogs can even their season ledger in the last round against old adversaries East Fremantle next Sunday. In truth, the kind of football that the Bulldogs have produced in the last fortnight is what wins games in September so they should not be a team to be taken lightly. The home side won all of the key indicators with a major advantage in disposals (350-267) leading to 18 more inside 50s (55-37) and ten more scoring shots (21-11).

The performance of 16 year-old Jaxon Bellchambers would have been heartwarming to many at the Bulldogs as he had a impact all over the ground with 22 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and topped off his fantastic display with three last quarter goals. At the other age of the age spectrum, Matthew Ward was a diligent four-quarter performer with 29 disposals and nine tackles while the forward pressure of Ira Jetta was first class with nine tackles to go along with 12 disposals and two goals. The second half of the season has been a greatly disappointing one for the Demons although they have certainly improved on their four win season in 2017. Perth are regularly seen as great developers of young talent and the National AFL Draft will likely show that with the names of Luke English, Ian Hill and Sydney Stack likely to be high up on the radar of recruiters. Nathan O’Driscoll is another Demon name to remember for the future with the 16 year-old amassing 28 disposals, eight tackles and a goal.

 

Claremont 9.7 (61) defeated Peel Thunder 6.5 (41)

With Perth’s defeat to Bulldogs, it meant the finals hopes of Claremont disappeared but that did not deter the Tigers as they arguably produced their best performance of the season to defeat high flying Peel Thunder by 20 points at Claremont Oval.

Claremont had been convincingly beaten by the Thunder in each of their meetings in 2018 (78 and 36 points) but the first quarter was a tight affair with Peel leading by five points. Well aware that they required a win to keep their season alive along with needing another result to go in their favour, Claremont arguably played their best quarter of an inconsistent campaign kicking 5.1 to 0.1 and opening up a imposing 25-point lead with Isaac Barton and Angus Longmire each kicking two for the term. The impressive Tigers continued their dominance early in the third with goals to Jacob Dorset-Sawyer and a third to Barton which pushed the lead out beyond six goals and plenty of danger signs for the second placed Thunder. A late goal by Jackson Knight narrowed the gap to 31 points to give them the slightest ray of hope but the game was seemingly well and truly in control of the Tigers.

Peel made a final concerted push to get back into the game in the early stages of the last quarter narrowing the gap to three goals through majors from Killian Rawson and Tyson Powell. The Tigers looked to have gone into their shell for the first time in the game as Peel were piling on the pressure, and Jack Willis kicked their third of the quarter narrowing the gap further to 13 points. From there the Tigers managed to stop the flow of attacks from the Thunder and sealed a meritorious victory when Benjamin Schuhkraft kicked truly just before the final siren.

The key stats showed how much Claremont controlled the nature of the contest with 70 more disposals (331-261) which led to 19 more inside 50s (49-30) and five more scoring shots (16-11). Isaac Barton set the tone of the contest in the first half for the Tigers and the top-ager compiled 18 disposals, six tackles and three goals and he was well supported by the tireless work of ruckman Longmire with 15 disposals, four marks, 38 hit-outs and two goals, while Max Grant finished with 27 disposals. Despite the loss, Peel will finish second on the ladder with their opponent still to be decided, and Lachlan Riley was a true four-quarter performer for the visitors with 28 disposals, six marks and four tackles.

 

Subiaco 9.13 (67) defeated East Fremantle 7.12 (54)

Subiaco kept up their on their winning ways as they claimed their tenth straight win holding off a surging Sharks outfit to win by 13 points at East Fremantle Oval.

Subiaco made a very strong start to the contest kicking three goals to nil to open up a 20 point lead at quarter time. That level of dominance continued in the second term as the league leaders kicked another four goals to one and holding a very healthy 40 point lead at the long break. Successful teams play a strong brand of team football where they do not depend on one player and Subiaco have successfully illustrated that fact throughout the season. To half time they had seven different goalkickers and eight players with double-figure disposals, led by Tristan Hobley with 18 and Taj Schofield and Liam Hickmott with 16 apiece.

While you do not want to have a defeatist mindset during the game, the Sharks brains trust would have been thinking of ways to limit the damage and save their percentage. While they would keep a one game advantage over the dormant Swan Districts, a heavy defeat could have seen percentage come into play in the final round if Swans were to be victorious in their last game against Claremont and if the Sharks slipped up against South Fremantle.

However, those hypotheticals were put on the back burner as the Sharks stemmed the bleeding and played some more composed football in the third term. They won the quarter courtesy of goals through Adam Meadowcroft and the highly promising bottom ager Luke Jackson – who had the tough choice to make between footy and basketball, but the talented and athletic sportsman chose the former. The Sharks had certainly found some impetus and continued their momentum kicking the first two goals of the last term with another major to Jackson and Zach Wilkinson. Nicolas Martin kicked a goal to ease any tension within the Subiaco ranks, but the highly impressive second half by the Sharks continued with further goals to Corey Robinson and Wright. Opportunities were coming thick and fast for the home team, however time ran out as Subiaco made it ten straight wins and with Peel’s loss, the Lions clinched the minor premiership and a bye in the first week of the finals.

While the Lions were outscored six goals to two in the second half, they did enough to show one of their closest challenges for the premiership that you need to play at a high level for the full four quarters if you want to beat them. Hickmott compiled 29 disposals and nine tackles and was well supported by Schofield (27 disposals, six marks and five tackles) andHobley (27 disposals) while Robinson was a solid contributor for the Sharks with 23 disposals.

East Perth 12.7 (79) defeated West Perth 6.9 (45)

East Perth played some of their best football of a very inconsistent 2018 campaign as they registered a 34-point victory against arch-rivals West Perth at a sun-drenched Leederville Oval on Saturday morning.

This contest was all about pride with both teams eliminated from finals contention last week, it was the Royals who started the better opening up a two goal lead in the first term but really got going in the second quarter kicking four goals to one to open up a five goal margin at the long break with the duo of Rhai-arn Cox and Callum McVee looking lively with two goals each.

The Royals were in complete control of the contest in the third term kicking two goals to one and turning for home with a 37 point lead. A West Perth comeback did not look on the cards when you take into account that they had kicked three goals in as many quarter. However they produced a barnstorming first ten minutes of the final term where they had six scoring shots kicking 3.3 and narrowing the gap to 16 points, which suddenly gave them a deal of momentum.

Not wanting their good football in the first three quarters to go to waste, East Perth responded through a second goal to Kyle Robinson which was soon followed by majors to Ashley Willcocks and Kane Hughes as the Royals were able to seal a deserved 34 point win. With the Falcons having the bye in the final round, East Perth can still avoid the wooden spoon if they defeat Peel Thunder next Sunday.

Robinson was a standout all-around performer for the Royals with the bottom ager amassing 23 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and two goals while Damon Greaves continued his highly impressive season with the AFL draft combine invitee amassing 31 disposals and ten tackles. Bailey Chalmers was a tireless worker for the Falcòns with 29 disposals and four tackles while Tyron Hindmarsh was a very serviceable contributor once again with 21 disposals and seven tackles.

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