WAFL Colts minor premier Swan Districts earned a remarkable nine-point comeback victory over Claremont in Saturday morning’s top-of-the-table clash, proving the perfect sighter for finals. The Tigers lead at every break and dominated play in the first half, but two late goals in the second term gave the Swans a sniff. Having wrestled back some momentum but fallen even further back by three quarter time, Swans pounced in term four with five goals to one to cap off a stunning home-and-away campaign. We take a look at a few of the top performers from either side in our Scouting Notes, and take a look around the grounds.
Claremont 7.13 (55) def. by Swan Districts 9.10 (64)
#22 Sam Gilbey
One of the most promising West Australian bottom-agers, Gilbey returned a positive performance in just his sixth Colts game for the season. The 185cm defender boasts a few handy weapons, headlined by his penetrating left-foot kick. He hit targets over long distances both on the rebound and going inside attacking 50, weaponising that side of his game in addition to some handy intercept marks. Gilbey finished the game with 21 disposals (15 kicks), four marks and four inside 50s.
#29 Jahmal Stretch
While he only registered nine disposals, Stretch made a big impact on the contest with six tackles and 2.3 as Claremont’s most likely small forward. The National Combine invitee loves to leap at the ball and very nearly pulled in some eye-catching grabs, with his two marks for the day coming at full stretch overhead. The electric Halls Creek native also impacted at ground level, hitting the ball at pace and taking it cleanly, before dishing off to bring others into the play or manufacturing his own shots on goal. His majors came in the second and third term, and could easily have been more as he hit the post twice.
#32 Jacob van Rooyen
Stationed back in his usual key forward post, van Rooyen looked in ominous touch early on. He took a couple of marks inside 50 and began to cause a bit of panic for Swans defenders, attracting a holding free kick for his first goal. The 194cm bigman made it two in a term when he won a wrestle to mark one-on-one, converting another set shot. He would go on to work further up the ground and while his marking influence was quelled, van Rooyen contributed one-percenters like blocks on fast breaks, unrewarded chases, and plenty of follow-up pressure after flying for marks. A quiet second half saw him finish with two goals from seven disposals and four marks.
#36 Eric Benning
One who warmed to the contest and built his impact over time, Benning popped up with some nice moments as a ruck-forward rotation. He began to get his hitout game going in the second term, palming some nice balls down to his midfielders’ advantage and carrying that trend forward. The Fremantle NGA prospect also won his own clearances and a few of them ended up producing marks inside 50. Benning managed 12 disposals, 19 hitouts and six inside 50s for the day.
Midfield pair Jacquin Ciminata (26 disposals, eight inside 50s, one goal) and Kendyll Blurton (23, five, one) both helped Claremont get on top early with their momentum from the middle, while Arthur Jones (21 disposals, eight inside 50s) was dynamic on the outside. Kieran Kavanagh also got his hands dirty, as Max Mumme flashed forward and bottom-ager Luke Brown took a couple of nice grabs with his long reach.
#2 Max Chipper
The Swan Districts accumulator was at it again on Saturday, picking up an unassuming 26 disposals and six marks from the engine room. Chipper showcased his running capacity throughout the day as he often dropped back to help move the ball out of defence, proving neat with his disposal despite relaxing on a few kicks. His consistent output has been terrific on both sides of midfield this season.
#8 Elijah Hewett
Another impressive bottom-ager, Hewett made a genuine impact on the game with his work from midfield. The 182cm prospect has a mature built for his age and used every bit of it to power out of congestion, either with a turn of speed or by dishing off in tackles. He started brightly with nine touches in the first term and went on to collect 24 for the match, also adding a goal in term three. He could have had another in the fourth, but instead made his mark with his intent to move the ball on quickly even if his kicks did not always hit the target.
#20 Bryce Watson
The fast rising defender showcased some of his best traits off half-back once again, racking up a game-high 28 disposals (21 kicks) and five marks. Watson was constantly there to mop up the ground balls, but also set up rebounds by positioning for intercept marks and spoils in the air. He often remained calm under pressure and spun nicely out of trouble, kicking to advantage up the field when moving at pace. While he grubbed a couple of kicks, Watson won some key possessions and ensured plenty of play went through him out of the backline.
#32 Tyrell Metcalf
Swan Districts’ main source of goals throughout the season ended up being a match winner on Saturday, booting 2.3 from 13 disposals and seven marks – including the one to put his side in front. Both of Metcalf’s goals came from set shots and he had a great knack of getting free inside 50, but was also made to work up the ground with few looks in the first half. He could have ended up with a bag if not for some inaccuracy, as he constantly looked to make things happen. Metcalf may well miss some finals action after a very ordinary act at three quarter time, and a few undisciplined moments were the only real blights on an otherwise exciting performance.
#38 Darcy Jones
The zippy bottom-ager again produced some really productive spurts on the wing, speeding his way forward with sharp skills. Jones was dangerous on fast breaks, using his pace to burn opponents behind him, before baulking the ones in front and making something happen inside 50. He was clean at ground level and went on one particularly swift running bounce foray, which we are sure to see more of in future.
Along with Watson, Lawson Humphries proved a reliable rebounder with his 23 disposals and eight marks from defence, doing most of his work by foot. Ben Hewett notched 18 disposals from midfield, while Angus Laurisson (14 disposals, five marks) played a key role on van Rooyen in defence after quarter time. Elsewhere, Kobe Farmer formed a handy partnership with Metcalf up forward, and 2005-born talent Riley Hardeman popped up with some eye-catching moments off the wing.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
Peel Thunder won out by 15 points against Subiaco in a battle between seventh and eighth, adding a consolation sixth win to their season tally. The Thunder trailed at the final break and had less of the ball overall, but created 51 inside 50s to 22 to overwhelm the Lions at the death. Michael Sellwood racked up a game-high 28 touches for the victors, while draft combine addition Luke Polson booted 2.2 from 17 touches. Bottom-ager Jacob Evitt was again productive for Subi, snaring a goal from his 22 touches.
An eight-goal to nil opening term set the tone for West Perth’s 102-point beatdown of Perth, who finished the season last at 0-16. The Falcons dominated with 126 more disposals and 31 more inside 50s, culminating in 32 scoring shots to five in the run-in to finals. Jack De Marte (30 disposals) lead all comers, while the likes of Darcy Dixon, Kane Bevan, Luke Michael, and Lochlan Paton were the other Falcons to find plenty of ball in an even team spread.
East Fremantle was another side to show ominous form on the eve of finals, besting fellow top five contender East Perth by 31 points. State Under 19s pair Josh Browne and Corey Warner both racked up over 30 touches, while recent draft combine additions Taj Woewodin and Josh Cripps each booted two goals in big performances. Promising tall Jack Williams also snared three goals for the Sharks. James Tunstill lead the Royals’ disposal count with 26 as Kade Dittmar managed 17, and Jye Amiss registered a steady 2.2 in the defeat.
Up the grades, Peel Thunder utility Brady Hough was exceptional on League debut with 22 disposals, nine marks and a goal playing off half-back and the wing. Over-age defender Jack Avery rounded out a solid season with Perth, while Jesse Motlop proved his worth in South Fremantle’s side ahead of finals with 2.2 from 13 disposals.
Image Credit: Swan Districts Football Club