THE final week of the home and away season saw the four games split over two days with double headers played at Mineral Resources Park (Saturday) and Leederville Oval (Sunday). With West Perth playing on the Saturday against South Fremantle, a victory for the Falcons would increase the pressure on East Perth who played the following day against Subiaco in their bid to lock up a double chance.
Would everything go to plan or would there be a costly slip-up with September just around the corner?
Read on to find out.
WAFL Colts wrap – Round 20
West Perth 12.7 (79) def. South Fremantle 9.8 (62)
West Perth survived a major scare, defeating a gallant South Fremantle side by 17 points in the first game of the Saturday double-header at Mineral Resources Park
Despite what was on the line for the Falcons, it was the wooden spooners who started the better of the two teams leading by six points at quarter time. Tyson Headland and Tommy Taylor-Shreeve kicked goals for their respective sides early in the second term as it remained a tightly contested battle. A major to Bulldogs youngster Haiden Mead reasserted their two goal buffer which they kept until half time.
The Bulldogs had not won a game since the third of June against East Fremantle and this was one of the best halves of Football that they had produced since that victory. Tyson Headland and Manfred Kelly led a strong list of contributors for the Bulldogs with 18 and 17 disposals respectively. While bottom-ager Cooper Blackburn had a terrific half with 14 disposals, five marks and two goals for the Falcons.
With their double chance hopes on the line, the Falcons knew they had to raise their level and did so accordingly in the early stages of the third term through goals to bottom age talents Logan Foley and Luke Reilly. However, the resilient Bulldogs responded through Liam Bradford. The Falcons then answered in kind with goals to Liam Martin and a second to Reilly for the term which gave the Falcons their first lead of the game. Rohan Scurria then kicked his first and it was shaping as a decisive moment in the contest. The Falcons had kicked five goals to one and led by 11 points at the final break. South Fremantle were so good for so long and it would be a shame if they were to fade away.
It seemed that was to be the case early in the last term as Blackburn kicked his third for the game. However, the spirit of the Bulldogs was in fine fettle as goals to Jacob Sax and 16-year-old Aaron Drage put them right back in the hunt. But just as any good team looks to do, the Falcons responded through Cooper Hinchcliffe and Callum Johnson. Tyron Hindmarsh then sealed the victory as the Falcons moved back up to third spot and would have their fingers crossed that the Lions could knock off East Perth on Sunday.
West Perth held sway in terms of disposals (311-260) but inside 50s were locked up at 39. In terms of individual performances, Cooper Blackburn was a terrific four quarter performer for the Falcons with 17 disposals, seven marks, three inside 50s and three goals. Ruckman Zac Patterson was great with his work around the ground with 45 hit-outs to go with 13 disposals while Tyron Hindmarsh sealed his mantle as the leading ball winner in the competition with 24 disposals, four marks and four tackles. Hindmarsh averaged 28.4 disposals in 15 games. Meanwhile for the Bulldogs, Tyson Headland was a willing worker all day with 27 disposals, five inside 50s three marks and three tackles and was joined by Manfred Kelly with 25 disposals, seven tackles and four inside 50s.
Peel 10.14 (74) def. Perth 8.4 (52)
Peel rounded out a fine home and away season with a solid 22-point victory over Perth in the second game of the Saturday double header.
After an extremely tight first half where not much more than a goal separated the two teams, it was the premiership quarter where Peel stamped their authority on the contest. The Thunder kicked 5.2 to 0.1 in the term to open up a 37-point lead heading into the final 25 minutes.
To their credit, the home team put some respectability back onto the scoreboard in kicking four goals to one, but Peel had done more than enough to pick up the four points. In truth, the minor premiers could have won by a lot more if they had their kicking boots on as they amassed 24 scoring shots compared to 12 of their opponents. Peel will now enjoy the week off and will be watching the other four finalists with a deal of interest. A win in the second semi final in a fortnight will be enough to see them progress to the Grand Final.
The workrate of Jack Sears up and down the ground was terrific once again for the Thunder with 22 disposals and eight marks. Bradley Oldfield was in the heart of the contest with nine tackles and six inside 50s to go along with 20 disposals and bottom age duo Connor Heuer and Tyler Nesbitt combined for six goals. Meanwhile for the Demons who finish the season with five wins from 16 games talented key forward Logan McDonald kicked three goals from 13 disposals and five marks and the ever-present Simon Hayward was tireless with 33 disposals and a game-high 13 tackles with six marks and a goal to top off a fine individual campaign in style.
Subiaco 10.10 (70) def. East Perth 9.13 (67)
Subiaco have played the role of ultimate party poopers by denying their co-tenants a finals double chance at the very death by defeating East Perth by three points in a dramatic game of Football at Leederville Oval on Sunday.
After a tight beginning it was Subiaco who kicked the first goal of the day through Daniel Frost and that was soon followed by a major to Patrick Mullane. The Lions were certainly hitting in hard and making the Royals earn all their possessions. The Royals were certainly having no issue bringing the ball inside their 50 metre arc (15-5 advantage) but the difference was conversion. After seven straight behinds East Perth finally had their first goal on the board through Jake Littleton but the Lions still held a one point advantage at the first break.
Jack Borchet gave the Lions some breathing space early in the second term with a mark and goal. However, the extremely talented Rhai-arn Cox out-bodied his opponent in the square and goaled giving the Royals the quick reply. Liam Dellamarta soon followed with a fine snap to give the Royals the lead. The Royals were now running over the top of their opponents and their ground pressure paid dividends when Sam Van Diemen snapped truly to give the top four outfit their biggest lead of the game that being 13 points. The Lions looked to get some ascendancy back in the game but were just missing the finishing touches. Jacob Peletier was the man to answer the call late in the second term as he finished with aplomb and cutting the margin to five points at the long break.
The Lions were doing a remarkable job to be as close as they were to think they had only amassed 12 inside 50 for the game compared to 27 of their opponents. Cooper Sparks, Sam Van Diemen and Adam Boules led the way in terms of disposals with 12 while Abraham Clinch had the same tally for the Lions. The first few minutes of the third term would tell a story whether the Lions would be able to sustain their attack on the footy or whether the Royals could use their greater attacking prowess to finish the job.
The Royals were the first team to hit the scoreboard early in the third term through Kyle,Robinson and the well built forward soon doubled his tally extending the lead to 16 points. Next goal was pivotal and the Lions needed it to keep in touch and managed to get it through Blake Morris. Cox then took a fine mark when it looked like his opponent was in better position and he managed to goal and push the lead out back to 16 points. The Lions were one persistent opposition however, and Frost kicked his second after a fine contested mark on the siren. The Royals were in the box seat to claim the four points but you sensed they would have fight tooth and nail as the Lions would throw everything at them.
East Perth got off to the quick start through Max Fabre and the two influential figures of Robinson and Boules combined to push the lead to four goals and seemingly clinch the game for the Royals. However the Lions would just not lie down and goals to Ben Golding and Borchet. It cut the margin to under ten points with seven minutes remaining. When Golding kicked his second of the quarter courtesy of a down the ground free the equation for the Lions was a goal required in two minutes.
Unbelievably Golding was left unmanned at half forward and had the shot from 40 metres directly in front to at the city end to win the game. It is exactly what the midfielder did as he was then swarmed by teammates. As the clock continued to tick down the Royals could not muster another attack and were heartbroken at the final siren. The result meant that West Perth had moved into third position but Swans could overtake them with a substantial victory in the final fixture.
It was the ultimate tale of never giving up and although the Lions did not have a finals spot on the line, they did have a sense of pride and finishing the season on a real high which is certainly what they did finishing with a 8-8 record for the season. For the Royals it truly was a gut-punch. In control for so long in this contest, yet they are set to be in sudden death football from next week and blowing the comfort of a double chance.
Player of the match
It was a game of fine moments from many individuals but star players rise to the top when everything is on the line. When hope seemed lost, Ben Golding was superb with his industry and willingness to outrun his opponents. The midfielder picked up 27 disposals, eight marks, six inside 50s and nine tackles, not to mention his three last quarter goals including the match winner. All in all it was a superb performance and one that may well have caught the eye of the recruiters.
Jacob Peletier was very handy with his dash and poise picking up 22 disposals and six marks along with a goal. Chayse Grabe-Paparone kept dangerman Rhai-arn Cox under control in the second half and picked up 15 disposals himself while Blake Morris was strong with ten marks. Adam Boules was certainly East Perth’s best with 27 disposals, nine tackles, six marks, and five inside 50s while Harley Sparks was very solid support with 26 disposals,six marks,six tackles and seven inside 50s.
Claremont 7.12 (54)def Swan Districts 8.5 (53)
Claremont got the best finals preparation they could ask for with a thrilling one point victory over Swan Districts at Leederville Oval on Sunday.
Swans got off to the best start possible and Ethan Nordahl kicking the first of the game. The second placed Tigers were locked into that position and mobile forward Charlie Malone levelled the scores. Jack Allen then gave the lead back to the vibrant Swans outfit when he earned a free kick in the forward line and duly converted. It was goal for goal and Malone when kicked his second with a fine goal from the boundary. The rest of the quarter played out without any major incident and scores were locked at 14 at the quarter time break.
After seemingly an age without a goal in the contest, it was Allen who kicked his second from the square to give Swans back the lead and Nordahl soon grabbed his second,as Swans built a nice lead. When Aiden Cartwright kicked Swans fifth for the game, they were certainly in control of the contest. Claremont needed something to stem the bleeding and it took a fortunate bounce over the head of Jake Pasini with Jake Willson kicking his first.
But Swans were in no mood to let momentum slip and Ashley Brockbernd kicked a fine goal when under substantial pressure. The underdogs went into half time with a very handy 17 point lead and looked like to be the more desperate team with Claremont having little to play for other than match practice leading into the finals. Ethan Nordahl was the leading player on the ground at half time with 17 disposals, six marks and two goals while defensive pillars Brenton Hilton and Jake Pasini had 13 and 12 respectively.
It was a cagey start to the third term but the Tigers needed to kick the first and they did just through Jack Cooley. Not long after, Jamieson Ugle slotted a fine goal from the boundary giving the Black and Whites a three goal margin. Malone was proving a real beacon in the Tigers forward line and kicked his third narrowing the gap to eight points nearing three quarter time. That was the way it stayed, but it was clear that the intensity had risen in the Tigers play and it was anyone’s call about who would claim the victory.
The first goal of the quarter was going to be vital and it went the way of the Tigers through Ben Schuhkraft. When Isaiah Butters slotted a fine goal from the boundary pushing the margin beyond a kick with six minutes left,it seemed like the Tigers had done enough. A scrambled piece of possession deep in the Swans forward line led to nothing but a point, but they had very late hope when Jax Watson kicked truly and setting us up for a second grandstand finish of the day. However the Tigers did enough to get themselves over the line by a solitary point.
In the end there were no real losers in this contest. Swans showed they could match it with a team sitting second on the ladder and in reality it was their best performance it what has been a very difficult second half of the season. For the Tigers, there was no doubt they were off their game in the first half. Perhaps it was to do with the circumstances, but also give credit to their opponents for putting the heat on them, However, like good teams do they responded and claimed another four points.
Both teams would have been thrilled with the performances of some of their key movers played. For the Tigers, Joel Western picked up 27 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s while Callum Jamieson was elite in his athleticism compiling 20 disposals and nine marks along with 24 hit/outs. Seb Bright was tireless in the midfield for Swans with 27 disposals and seven tackles along with six inside 50s. Meanwhile Ethan Nordahl had 26 touches, nine marks and two goals.
How it stands at the end of 20 rounds
1. Peel – 56 pts
2. Claremont 44 pts
3. West Perth 36 pts
4. East Perth 36 pts
5. Swan Districts 32 pts 108.6%
6. Subiaco 32pts 89.2%
7. East Fremantle 24 pts
8. Perth 20 pts
9. South Fremantle 8 pts
Week 1 of the Finals
Claremont vs West Perth- Qualifying Final
East Perth vs Swan Districts – Elimination Final