DEFINING what is a successful and failed season is always a fascinating point of discussion for football officials and fans alike.
Logically speaking, the further you progress into a finals campaign would be seen as progress but that also depends on what your key objectives were heading into the season proper.
It is therefore worth asking the question – how would your team view a defeat in a preliminary final?
It is the widely viewed as the worst game to lose as you are near enough to see the premiership cup loom in the distance, yet a late stumble sees all the hard work during the season go to waste. However, there are some who would rather accept defeat in this game, than experience the mental toll of losing on Grand Final day which can linger for a long while after the event.
Two WAFL Colts teams were playing their biggest game of the 2018 season. For one team it would be the last time they pull on the boots this season, while for the other a date with destiny is just one game away.
Read below for all the details on which team moved on to next week, and who would head off on their offseason break.
WAFL Colts wrap – Preliminary Final:
Swan Districts 10.12 (72) defeated Peel Thunder 7.8 (50)
Swan Districts’ quest for premiership glory will see them take on Subiaco in the 2018 Colts Grand Final after defeating Peel Thunder in the Preliminary final by 22 points at Fremantle Oval on Sunday morning.
It was the second time in a fortnight that the teams had met in the 2018 finals series. Swan Districts edged out Peel by nine points in the qualifying final despite having control of for most of that game. So the main question coming into this contest was whether Peel would be able to alter anything as they chased their first Colts premiership since their back to back success in 2004/5.
The Thunder’s biggest lead was a solitary point two weeks ago. However they started on the front foot at the start of this contest with two early goals to Tyson Powell. After a period of territory domination, Swans’ hit back hard courtesy of influential midfielder Riley Garcia. He topped off his fine 10-disposal opening quarter with two goals as the Black and Whites took a three-point lead into the first break.
After a sluggish start, Swans had well and truly worked their way into the game. They started the second term the way they finished the first quarter with goals to the in-form Kade Wallrodt and Brodie Newman. Swans had registered the last eight scoring shots of the game and Peel had not scored for over a quarter and needed a way to stem the bleeding. Nathan Ireland added to the Thunder’s pain with his first of the game as Swans now had a commanding 22 point lead heading into the long break.
If ever a team needed a goal to give them a bit of confidence it was Peel. Bottom-age livewire Tyrone Thorne answered the call on the brink of half time to cut the margin to 17 points at the long break. The Mandurah based side would have been hoping that it could be a sense of momentum leading into the following 50 minutes of action.
However it was Swans’ who re-established their advantage early in the second half through a goal to Atem Deng. The talented forward Patrick Farrant then pushed the Bassendean side one step closer to their first grand final appearance since 2015 as he gave them a five goal lead which seemed a lot bigger when you consider the nature of the contest. Soon after Ireland kicked his second of the game and Peel were now at great risk of finishing a promising campaign on a very low note.
The dominance of Swan Districts continued when exciting draft prospect Graydon Wilson pushed the past 40 points. The belated answer came through forward Jack Sears who had minimal impact in the game to that point. Still the task looked a exceptionally tough one for Peel as they trailed by 37 points with a quarter to play.
To stand any chance, the Thunder needed to make the most of every opportunity they created but three early misses to start the term would have been deflating. However to their credit, they kept pushing hard and got their reward when Thorne kicked his second. The ball was almost permanently camped in the Thunder’s forward 50 but Swans’ were content to soak up the pressure and hit them on the counter attack. Blake Pescud ended any thoughts of a stunning fightback with a goal which was the icing on the cake as Swans booked their grand final date with Subiaco next Sunday.
Just like their qualifying final encounter, Peel kept on fighting till the end and produced late goals to Thorne and Bailey Taylor which narrowed the final margin to 22 points. However, there was no doubt that Swans were deserving of their victory. A indicator to the success of Swan Districts on the day was the fact that they held a advantage in most of the key categories. While Peel narrowed the gap in the last term, there was little doubt that the game was won in the middle two quarters where the Black and Whites outscored their opponents 7.7 to 2.3.
There was too much left to too few on the goalkicking front last Sunday against Subiaco, however Swans’ spread the load perfectly against Peel with eight individual goalkickers. Garcia set the tone early with his impact and his teammates followed his lead. The tough midfielder finished with 27 disposals and four tackles and was supported well by the creative Wilson with 17 disposals, seven tackles and five marks while defender Denzel More continued his fine finals form with 18 disposals and five marks.
Two of Swans’ key movers in Mitchell Bain and Jarrod Cameron were quiet as far as disposals were concerned with 12 and seven respectively. However their overall willingness to have a impact in the game was shown by the fact that they laid 20 tackles between them.
While Peel will naturally be disappointed of falling one game short of the decider, it is their best season since 2015 where ironically they finished runners-up to Swan Districts. As has been the case since they entered the competition in 1997, they have a lot of young talent in their ranks and that was displayed throughout 2018.
The likes of James Sturrock, Lachlan Riley and Jarvis Pina have been star performers on a weekly basis, while bottom ager Thorne has shown he is not afraid of the big stage. Thorne proved this once again on Sunday where he compiled 18 disposals while taking five marks and being the lone scoring outlet with three goals. Sturrock was his usual combative self with 24 disposals, seven tackles and six marks.