WAFL Colts weekly wrap: Royals rise to second with win over South Fremantle

WE have finally arrived in the final month of the regular season. While the top five has been decided, jostling between the teams will be fascinating to observe. Just half a game separated second and fifth on the ladder meaning no team could afford a off day otherwise they could quickly slip down the ladder which could prove pivotal come finals time.

WAFL Colts wrap – Round 17

East Perth 10.12 (72) def. South Fremantle 5.7 (37)

East Perth continued their fine stretch of form by defeating a gallant South Fremantle by 35 points at Leederville Oval on Saturday morning.

It was the tale of two teams going in opposite directions. East Perth had won five of their past six games and were a premiership dark horse, while the Bulldogs had lost five on the bounce and were sitting last on the ladder. But the Royals knew every game from now was massively important.

It was an open beginning to the match with the ball moving freely to either end but the pressure from both defences being at an extremely high level. The home side were beginning to pepper the goals but a breakthrough was still to come as we ticked past the 20 minute mark. Eventually, the perseverance of the Royals paid off as Sam Van Diemen kicked the Royals’ first goal from 40 metres. That was soon followed by a major to Harley Sparks and the Royals had a 15-point break at quarter time. For all their endeavour, South Fremantle were yet to register a score in the first 25 minutes

That soon changed when Eric Botha converted from close range after some fine work further up the ground. South Fremantle were certainly making East Perth work hard across the ground and it had turned into a attritional battle. After many missed chances, East Perth finally kicked their first for the term courtesy of quick hands by Sebit Kuek and finished by Max Fabre. But to the Dogs credit, they were committed to give their higher placed opponents a real contest. A kick by the exciting bottom ager Ira Jetta found fellow youngster Aiden Hall and he duly converted cutting the margin to 12 points at the long break.

The Royals had 41 more disposals (175-134), four more inside 50s (24-20) and seven more scoring shots (10-3) but the visitors were well and truly in the contest. However, they would have to find a way to curve the accumulative talents of Harley Sparks who had amassed 25 disposals, four tackles and four inside 50s. Ira Jetta had shown flashes of his brilliance with 10 disposals and four inside 50s for the visitors.

Kyle Robinson gave the Royals a perfect start to the second half and that was soon followed by one to Luke Furlong and within a blink of a eye the margin of the game which was 24 points. Furlong then kicked his second on the run and the game was well and truly on East Perth’s terms now.

South Freo needed to find something quickly if they were not to be blown away and Jetta delivered a pin-point pass to Shannon Neale who converted truly. However bottom-ager Luke Lombardi kicked a fine goal on the run from just inside 50 in response to give the Royals back their five-goal lead. The Royals were not at their free-flowing best, but still were doing enough to keep a committed opponent in check.

Kuek started the final term in fine fashion kicking a goal from the boundary. Botha then responded for the Bulldogs as they continued their committed performance. Some smart work by Neale on the goal line give him his second and brought the margin back to 27 points. It was soon three in a row to the Bulldogs when Jermaine Pickett scored his first and they were getting full reward for their effort. Time was against the Bulldogs in terms of producing an inspiring comeback, but you could certainly see the confidence ooze out of their play.

Despite all their efforts the final say in this game went to the home team. Firstly, Robinson mopped up own crumb and snapped truly from 15 metres. And with the siren blowing in the background, Kuek put a cherry on top of the cake with a goal from 45 metres and he was duly mobbed by his teammates. It was not their best performance this year, but these are the games that really decide whether you have the will to get yourself over the line.

When you take scoring into the equation (22-7), you may think that it was fortunate that South Fremantle did not receive a real belting. But on the other hand, the visitors took it into their 50 on 37 occasions, only five fewer than their opponents. The lack of a third forward that could help out Botha and Shannon Neale really hurt. The snakes and ladders of the top five see East Perth take advantage of some of their rivals misfortune this round and work their way to second position. It is the highest they have been placed since the first week of the season.

Star of the day.

When you have a season-high 47 disposals, there can be only one name with that man being Harley Sparks. The 17-year-old (turns 18 in September) has a terrific ability to get to every contest and is able to distribute the ball to the outside runners. While he could be excused for dropping off in the second half after he amassing 25 disposals in the first half, Sparks certainly kept running to the very end and produced 13 touches in the last quarter. If he continues in the same vein and has a strong finals campaign, the midfielder may well be a smart smoky pick around draft time.

Other notables

Adam Boules produced a valuable contribution in midfield for the Royals with 27 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, and five inside 50s. Liam Dellamarta was accomplished with 26 disposals, nine marks, five tackles and five inside 50s. While Ruckman Josh Ladhams was colossal around the ground taking strong marks across half back and in the forward line. The accomplished big man had 19 disposals, nine marks and 36 hitouts. For the Bulldogs, Jack Musika never stopped working hard in his usual fashion and had 22 disposals and 11 marks, while George Wessels worked himself into the contest and had 22 disposals, eight tackles and seven marks.

Peel Thunder 12.4 (76) def. Claremont 9.6 (60)

Peel Thunder showed they are still the team to beat in the 2019 Colts competition after recording a 16-point victory over Claremont at David Grays Arena on Saturday morning.

Peel were desperate to taste that winning feeling again after falling to defeat for only the second time this season in their last game against East Fremantle. Meanwhile, Claremont had won four in a row and wanted to cut the margin between first and second to just one game, while inflicting a mental blow on their opponents.

The home team did not trail throughout the contest and set up their victory in the first term kicking six goals to three with Jackson Knight kicking three of them. While Claremont trimmed the margin back to 16 points at the long break, they seemed to be always playing catchup. Ben Middleton kicked two goals in the third term as they pushed the margin out to 35 points with one quarter to play. Although the Tigers never gave up on the course, kicking three goals to none in the final 25 minutes, it was little more than consolation as Peel got some revenge for their round six defeat.

Tyrone Thorne can normally effect the nature of the contest with his goalkicking and defensive pressure but today the state/U18s player got his hands on the ball plenty of times picking up 25 disposals, five tackles and three marks. Knight was influential when the game was on the line and he ended up with a fantastic all-round stat line of 15 disposals, six inside 50s, five tackles, five marks and three goals. The steady hand of Bradley Oldfield was also important with 24 disposals, six marks and two goals. For the Tigers who slip to third with the defeat, Jack Cooley and Jye Clark each had 29 disposals.

East Fremantle 11.10.(76) def. West Perth 8.11.(59)

The outstanding late season form of East Fremantle continued as they knocked off another finals bound team in West Perth to the tune of 17 points at Joondalup Arena on Saturday morning.

The Sharks while out of finals contention were keen on playing the spoilers role having defeated Swan Districts and Peel in consecutive weeks. Meanwhile, West Perth were coming off the bye having lost last time out against rivals East Perth which was their first defeat in five games.

The Sharks displayed their A-game from the opening quarter, kicking five goals to one and going on with the job in the second term extending their lead to 39 points at the long break. Although the Falcons kicked seven goals to three in the second half, they did not get closer than 16 points.

The WA state 18s title winning quartet of Chad Warner, Trent Rivers, Jai and Luke Jackson were elite again for the Sharks combining for 114 disposals and five goals between them. Luke Jackson gave his on-ballers great service with 36 hit-outs. Bottom age talent Logan Foley competed well for the Falcons with 12 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and two goals.

Subiaco 15.8(98) def Perth 6.4(40)

Subiaco produced one of their best all-round performances of the season with a 58-point win over Perth at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday afternoon.

This clash was all about pride with both teams out of finals contention. Perth especially would have wanted to show something after the ignominy of a goalless game against Claremont two weeks ago. However that drought continued in the first quarter as Perth was kept scoreless while the Lions put on four goals. The second term was more even with three goals each, but that trend suited the Lions as they led by 25 points at the long break. The second half saw the visitors kick eight goals to three and seal their fifth win of the season.

The margin could have been even more when you take into account that the Lions had 45 more hitouts (70-25), 30 more inside 50s (53-23) and 13 more scoring shots (23-10). The Lions duo of Abraham Clinch and Ben Golding have been prolific for the reigning premiers throughout the 2018 season. Again they were magnificent with the duo combining for 60 disposals and 17 tackles while Clinch also kicked two goals. Kane Foley was a terrific target up forward with three goals. Meanwhile for the Demons, Hamish McFarlane made the most of limited opportunities with three goals while Nathan O’ Driscoll was terrific and tireless in a well beaten side with 29 disposals and ten tackles.

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