Western Australia weekly wrap: Bulldogs loom large as finals wildcard

THE final round of the home and away season saw a ‘Super Sunday’ of action with three games played at Domain Stadium. While the final five was locked in, a precious double chance was still up for grabs with East Fremantle and Swan Districts jostling for that third position. With Swans playing on Saturday, East Fremantle knew the equation at hand when they met their arch rivals the following day.

Could the Sharks get the job done? Read ahead to find out all the details.

WAFL Wrap Round 21

South Fremantle 13.9 (87) defeated East Fremantle 10.9 (69).

South Fremantle kept up their fine late season form while dealing their bitter rivals a hammer blow in the process with a 18-point win over East Fremantle at Domain Stadium.

East Fremantle got off to the best possible story courtesy of a Tom Wright goal. The Sharks looked more composed in the early stages, but South Fremantle eased their way into the contest and got on the board courtesy of Lachlan Johnson. The Sharks regained the lead courtesy of an opportunistic snap by Jai Jackson, but the inform Bulldogs produced a great piece of team football which was smartly finished off by Jack Musika.

Both teams were really cracking in hard giving no quarter and expecting none in return. Jackson was looming as a key figure in the contest kicking his second of the quarter and helping the Sharks hold a six point lead at quarter time.

South Fremantle were peppering the goals at the start of the second term but were unable to get maximum reward for their effort. Another smooth piece of ball movement involving the likes of Ira Jetta gave Johnson the chance to change that and he kicked truly to level the scores. Jetta was then left unattended inside the forward 50 and the lively 16 year-old made the Sharks pay to give them their biggest lead of the contest.

The game was now being played on South Fremantle’s terms and some clever footwork by Luke Moore outfoxed his opponent and he kicked truly from 40 metres. The Bulldogs were now oozing confidence and some swift ball movement down the outer wing involving Jack Redman ended with Robert Woods who nailed their fourth for the term.

East Fremantle certainly needed a steadier and they got two in as many minutes firstly from Cody Smith and then a good running goal from the very likely bottom age prospect in Luke Jackson. It was a fascinating quarter with the Bulldogs dominating large parts but East Fremantle finished the stronger and only trailed by six points at the long break.

As always, the third quarter shaped as pivotal for the outcome of this captivating contest. It began with a brilliant rundown and tackle by Manfred Kelly who set up Moore for his second of the day to re-establish the two goal margin for the Bulldogs and Jaxon Bellchambers and Moore then set up Brodee Knight for his first.

All the hard work in getting back into the contest was at risk of being washed away and the influential Moore emphasised that point as he kicked his third to give the rampant Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game which was 24 points. East Fremantle then got a much needed response through Dylan Curley, however it was South Fremantle that were just playing better football with their transition from defence into attack which was first class and that was illustrated when Nash Miller set up Kyle Hamersley for his first and the Sharks defence was now close to breaking point.

East Fremantle then made the fatal mistake of over committing in defence leaving Toby Mcquilkin loose out the back to goal from close range. However they quickly regrouped courtesy of a long bomb by Cody Smith which was marked by Nicolas Watson in the goal square just before the three quarter time siren. It gave the Sharks a lifeline heading into the final 25 minutes and they would have known that every goal was vital as they had percentage to protect with third spot on the line.

After some untidy play to start the final term, Moore kicked his fourth of the game to re-establish their five goal lead and make life difficult for the visitors. A costly 50 metre penalty gave hard running defender Neil Irani a shot at goal which he duly converted to ice the game for the Bulldogs. Curley kicked his second of the game for the Sharks and Jackson soon set up the forward for another one soon after to trim the margin back to four goals. The Sharks were certainly playing with renewed energy knowing that every goal mattered in the equation of a double chance.

Cameron Davidson kicked a goal on the final siren to narrow the final margin 18 points but that did not worry the Bulldogs as they continued their fine end to the season which was their third in a row and third victory against top four opponents in as many attempts (also defeating Swans in Round 19 and Peel in Round 16). They are peaking at the right time and loom as a very dangerous opponent against anyone they come up against. Meanwhile the loss proved extremely costly for the Sharks who now slip to fourth and a rematch against their Fremantle rivals next week.

Moore was pivotal in the second half kicking three of his four goals and setting up another while Ira Jetta ran hard all day pressuring his opponents of himself all over the ground with 18 disposals and four tackles while James Russell was fantastic in defence with 17 disposals and three marks. For the Sharks Corey Robinson tried hard all day with 30 disposals while Jai Jackson was a true focal point with 23 disposals five tackles, four marks and two goals.

Peel Thunder 11.15 (81) defeated East Perth 9.8 (62)

Following that clash, Peel Thunder bounced back from last weeks disappointing loss against Claremont with a solid 19-point win over East Perth.

Peel dominated the early stages of the contest racking up four inside 50s in as many minutes and they finally got their reward through a mark and goal by Michael Randall in the square. East Perth barely got the ball past halfway in the first 12 minutes but were lucky to remain in the contest as Peel were not making their overall dominance count.

East Perth’s first scoring attempt came through Jarrad Hamer-Mathew who missed to the near side but they were edging closer to success and their first major came through Thomas Baulch. Then out of nowhere the game completely switched in momentum and East Perth were on the front foot when Egan Bradbury kicked their second of the contest. A third goal soon followed through Hamer-Mathew and remarkably the Royals went to the quarter time break with a six-point lead. Wasteful footy was certainly costly for Peel who finished the quarter with 1.8 but realistically should have been three goals in front.

Peel needed a spark and they got just that to start the second quarter with a brilliant running goal by Jake Howes from the boundary from 45 metres. Hamer-Mathew responded soon after for the Royals and Liam Martin then followed to give them their biggest lead of the contest which was 14 points. Lee Chapman kicked a important goal for Peel to cut the margin to single digits and then Jack Sears marked and goaled to cut it to a single point. When Sears kicked his second of the term, Peel were back in front but Baulch seemed to lock the scores at 40 points a piece at the long break, however it was deemed to be after the siren therefore Peel went into the long break with a six-point lead.

The second placed Peel now looked just like they did to start the contest, but the only difference were they were making their opportunities count outscoring the Royals four goals to one with Jake Howes prominent in their attacking thrusts. When Tyrone Thorne kicked his second for the quarter the margin in a blink of a eye was 31 points and a long way back for East Perth. The Royals were getting smashed out of the centre with the running fleet of Peel in fine form. Harley Sparks cut the margin to four goals but once again it was that man Thorne who gave Peel their five goal margin again and they took that margin to the three-quarter time break.

East Perth started the final quarter with some purpose and the excellent hard running of Baulch set up Rhai-arn Cox for his first of the day. The Royals were now certainly pushing hard but just not converting their opportunities. A strong tackle by Ben McGuire in the forward 50 gave him his first for the day to cut the margin to three goals but the Thunder were not in any immediate danger and saw out the rest of the game with no troubles and they go into their finals clash with Swan Districts next week on a winning note.

Remarkably Peel Thunder only totalled 219 disposals for the game but used them to great effect with 44 inside 50s compared to 31 from East Perth which led to 26 scoring shots compared to 19 from the Royals.

Thorne was the catalyst behind the terrific second half by the Thunder with three goals to go along 18 disposals six tackles and five marks while Jake Howes was in and under all game with eight tackles to go along with 16 disposals and two goals.

For the Royals, it was the hard running of Baulch which was a stand out as the top ager collected 24 disposals and eight marks while Cox kept working hard and looked dangerous collecting 14 disposals eight marks and three tackles along with a goal.

Subiaco 17.15 (117) defeated Perth 4.4 (28)

In the final game of a long day it was Subiaco who recorded their eleventh straight win with a 89-point thrashing over Perth. The team football which have served the Lions so well this season was again on display with eleven goal kickers on the day led by Jordan Faraone with three and Jack Mayo with 20 disposals, 10 marks and two goals while Tristan Hobley rounded out his home and away season in fine style with 32 disposals, ten marks and eight tackles.

The thumping loss consigned Perth to the wooden spoon position dispute going into the game with a 5% advantage over East Perth. They finished the game with a deficit of 0.3 per cent. Two of their youngest players could hold their head high high with Deven Robertson having 36 disposals and six marks while 16 year-old Nathan O’ Driscoll continued his excellent form with 27 disposals and eight tackles.

Swan Districts 10.8 (68) defeated Claremont 5.7 (37)

In the lone game played on Saturday morning, Swan Districts tuned up for finals action with a comprehensive 31 point win over Claremont at Steel Blue Oval in a game where they led throughout the contest.

Swans got off to a strong start leading by 13 points at quarter time courtesy of two goals to Atem Deng. Claremont, who were eliminated from finals calculations last week responded well in the second quarter kicking three goals to two and cutting the margin to seven points at the long break.

Swan Districts who were looking to get some momentum heading into the finals after two straight losses kicked the first two goals of the third term courtesy of Nathan Ireland and Patrick Farrant and once again Claremont failed to register a goal in the third term and had an uphill task heading into last quarter trailing by 19 points.

Bottom ager Liam Henry gave the visitors the best possible start to the final term kicking a goal but Patrick Farrant responded giving them their three goal lead and that was soon followed by Ayden Cartwright’s first major of the game which sealed the four points for the Black and Whites.

Deng sealed a best on ground performance with his third late in the contest and Graydon Wilson topped off a fine second-half performance for the home side to seal a 31 point win and put them in a positive frame of mind as they head into September action looking to make up for their 2017 exit after being bundled out in straight sets after finishing third in the home and away season. With the Sharks loss, it has handed them them a perfect opportunity to do just that. The Lions can now put up their feet and watch the four teams below them put their bodies on the line.

At least they will have the opportunity to atone that disappointment which is more than what Claremont can do as the Premiers from 2015 and 2016 and runners-up from last year reflect on a campaign that never really got any momentum behind it. However with a number of promising youngsters in their ranks, they cannot be written off as a chance to play finals footy next season.

Deng was the player who set the tone for the win with 19 first half disposals and two goals and while he had a much quieter second half, his impact could not be understated finishing with 24 disposals, five marks and three goals. He had strong support from Western Australia Under 18s representative Wilson with 23 disposals, seven marks and a goal and Riley Garcia was at his ball gathering best with 31 disposals. For Claremont, bottom-ager Henry was a willing worker throughout the contest with 18 disposals, four marks and two goals.

 

Week 1 Finals:

Qualifying Final

Peel Thunder vs Swan Districts

Elimination Final

East Fremantle vs South Fremantle

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