WAFL Colts weekly wrap: Royals loom as premiership contenders after another victory

WITH the top two facing off this weekend for the first time in the West Australian Football League (WAFL), it gave the teams directly below them a great opportunity to make some ground on the loser of that contest.

WAFL Colts Wrap – Round 13

East Perth 10.9 (69) defeated Perth 5.4 (34)

East Perth kept pace with the top three after winning their third game in succession, defeating a gallant Perth by 35 points at Leederville Oval.

The Royals came into this contest on the back of two wins while conversely Perth suffered a hiding at the hands of ladder leaders Peel last week and had lost three in a row. It was a must win game for the Demons as they wouldn’t have wanted to lose further touch with the top five as we enter the final two months of the home and away season.

East Perth got off to a quick start through a mark and fine goal from a acute angle by the extremely talented Rhai-arn Cox and a clever snap by Max Fabre then doubled the Royals’ lead. Perth were struggling to clear the ball from their defensive area with East Perth dominating territory. But some quick and direct play down the middle of the ground led to their first major by Simon Hayward. The Royals took a seven point lead into the first change.

Perth got off to the dream start in the second quarter when 15-year-old James Ettia kicked the first of the second term and the confidence from their play was clearly evident. It was now a very tight contested affair and the free flowing East Perth from the first 15 minutes of the contest had been slowed quite substantially. The teams then traded goals midway through the quarter. An excellent lunging mark by Kyle Robinson which he duly converted gave the Royals a margin of nine points which they took into the long break. The question heading into the second half was if the extremely youthful Demons side could maintain their effort for the full four quarters.

The Demons got the best answer to those questions at the start of the last term when bottom ager Deekan Garlett kicked his first of the game. After a quiet period, a improvised piece of play by Cox and bottom ager Josh Clements set up Cooper Sparks who took a strong mark and converted. Robinson then kicked the Royals’ second consecutive goal and with that the home were able to grab momentum with a 16-point margin. The Demons were still getting their hands on the ball but had seemingly lost their structure.

Robinson benefitted from a down the ground free kick to kick his third and danger signs were flashing for the Demons as they were getting beaten out of the middle. But as they had done all game they kept pressing and the extremely hard working Hayward finished off some good work. Cox put the game to bed well and truly with a fine one on one mark 15 metres out which he duly converted. Clements was then rewarded for some hard running to kick his first of the game to push the lead to five goals and Fabre then put the icing on the cake on a fine second half performance. East Perth restricted Perth to just four scoring shots in the second half, a fine performance.

Star of the day: Rhai-arn Cox

He may have had a tough start to the season, but Rhai-arn Cox has returned to the Royals seemingly revitalised and ready to make a real impact both for his team and for his own future prospects at the senior level. In this contest he was a nightmare matchup for the Perth defenders with his physicality and natural ability. He remained permanently stationed deep in the attacking 50 throughout the contest and finished with 16 disposals (all by foot) nine marks, five inside 50s and 2.3. Being still only 18, he will undoubtedly continue to grow into his body (currently 174cm /76 kg) but seeing him in this type of form and if he keeps it up on a regular basis, he looms as a very exciting prospect indeed.

Special mention has to go to Adam Boules who was colossal with his work-rate, amassing 24 disposals, 11 marks and eight tackles while Kyle Robinson was a strong focal point with 12 disposals, six marks and three goals. Meanwhile Simon Hayward was magnificent for the Demons once again with 28 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, five inside 50s and two goals.

The aftermath:

The Royals are certainly a team on the rise and looming as a real contender on the horizon. This season in particular there seems to clear break away between the top five and the rest. East Perth are only one game from second and face a real test of their credentials in the next three weeks when they face Swan Districts, Peel and West Perth in succession. We will know just exactly where they are truly placed in the pecking order after those games. After last week’s abysmal performance, this week was certainly a turnaround for Perth. Although they didn’t claim the four points, their effort was terrific throughout the whole four quarters, and it was just that they came up against a better opponent on the day. Keep playing like that and they will get some wins up between now and the end of the season.

Peel Thunder 10.17 (77) defeated Swan Districts 5.9 (39)

Peel Thunder showed once and for all that they are the team to beat in 2019 after defeating second placed Swan Districts by 38 points at David Grays Arena in Mandurah. However the final score said little about what was a highly competitive first three quarters.

Peel led by seven points at quarter time and extended it to 23 points at the long break. The visitors were not going to give up without giving a strong account of themselves and dominated the third term kicking 3.4 to one behind and cutting the margin to just two points with a quarter to play. But with Ben Middleton leading the way, Peel slammed on six goals to one in the last term to run out resounding winners.

In truth, Peel were deserved winners with 13 more scoring shots (27-13) and 11 more 50s (47-36). Middleton was monumental for the home side taking eight marks and kicking four goals and four behinds. With the victory, Peel have opened up a two game gap at the top of the table and with their outstanding percentage, it is akin to a three-game buffer. There is plenty of work for the Black and Whites to do to reclaim their mantle that they had for the first half of the season.

West Perth 10.10 (70) defeated Subiaco 5.9 (39)

West Perth moved into equal second position with Swans after a composed 31-point win against Subiaco at Joondalup Arena.

In keeping with the majority of the games this round, we saw a tight first 50 minutes of play, but the better team stamped their authority on the contest in the second half. In this case, West Perth kicked six goals to two to reign supreme. The in-form Corey Rundle Was terrific even again with the bottom age Falcons forward kicking another three goals to add to four from the previous week. Another player who has been in sparkling form in 2019 is Koopah Todd with the top age midfielder amassing 34 disposals, ten marks, five tackles and a goal. He received fine support once again from Callum Johnson with 27 disposals and ten marks. Abraham Clinch was Subiaco’s best with 26 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s.

Claremont 13.12 (90) defeated East Fremantle 2.10 (22)

A completely dominant first half performance from Claremont set the Tigers on their way to a thumping 68-point victory at East Fremantle Oval.

The visitors kicked eight goals to one in the first two quarters with Thomas Baldwin kicking two majors. Ben Elliott kicked two of his own in the second half to give him three for the game and continue the onslaught. Jye Clark continued his very consistent season with 33 disposals and seven inside 50s for the Tigers. The youngster is averaging an impressive 26 disposals in 2019. Ruckman Jack Buller gave his midfielders silver service with 35 hit-outs to go along 20 disposals and five marks.

It was a dark day for East Fremantle kicking just two goals game and after starting the season 2-0, they have now lost eight straight and slipped down to the bottom of the ladder. Bottom ager Jack Carroll was a clear standout for the Sharks with 29 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and five inside 50s.

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