2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Grand Final – Claremont vs. Swan Districts
SWAN Districts claimed the 2021 WAFL Colts premiership on Saturday afternoon, besting Claremont 12.14 (86) to 12.6 (78) in a free-flowing decider at Optus Stadium. It was the minor premiers’ fourth meeting with their closest rival for the season, and produced another margin under 10 points in what was a thrilling end to the Colts campaign.
The result saw Swan Districts go from last in 2020 to the competition’s summit this time around, while Claremont has been the unfortunate loser of the last two grand finals. Bailey Jenkin came up clutch for the victors with two final term goals, seeing him claim the Mel Whinnen Medal as the best and fairest player afield.
Star Tigers forward Jacob van Rooyen looked in ominous touch as he helped his side skip to an early lead with two goals in the opening five minutes, finishing with three in the first term which was won by Claremont. Swans hit back though, getting on the move at stoppages and applying great pressure to lead by 11 points at half-time.
Despite running against the flow of play, Claremont remained within striking distance in term three and Angus Sheldrick ensured the Tigers would pounce, booting consecutive goals to put his side ahead. van Rooyen slotted a fourth goal late to make it an eight-point margin at the final break, setting up a grandstand final quarter.
With Claremont refusing to go away, Jenkin’s goals came in handy for the black and whites and it was only fitting that leading goalkicker, Tyrell Metcalf had the final say. Coming off a two-week suspension, the lively forward converted his third major to see the Swans run out eight-point winners, and premiers.
We highlight some of the top performers in our Scouting Notes, with a particular focus on state Under 17 and 19 squad members.
Claremont 12.6 (78) def. by Swan Districts 12.14 (86)
#1 Arthur Jones
The electric wingman showcased his high work rate and looked particularly productive in the first half, leaning on his pace and evasive skills to make an impact. He dropped back several times to help generate a bit of drive out of defence, moving on quickly and taking on opportunist kicks. Jones’ little darts left and right bought him time on the ball, but backed himself to take a mile when given an inch of space on the outer. Covering plenty of ground for Claremont, the West Coast Next Generation Academy (NGA) member finished with 10 disposals and three marks.
#27 Angus Sheldrick
It is said that Sheldrick has played himself into draft contention and that is evidently the case after he put in another massive shift for Claremont on Saturday. Despite sporting a heavily strapped left quad, the bustling ball winner looked the man most likely drag his side over the line. He finished with a game-high 27 disposals and gave the Tigers every chance of winning with consecutive goals to put them ahead in term three. Sheldrick showcased his power and toughness, along with some really neat foot skills on his left side between the quickly hacked clearances. It was a warrior-like effort in Claremont’s losing cause.
#29 Jahmal Stretch
Stretch does not need many touches to make an impact and that notion was tested on Saturday as he finished with just five, playing his usual small forward role. Despite not being as prolific as others, the Halls Creek talent brings a rare presence to the contest and his defensive pressure (six tackles) is always a feature. The ball didn’t quite bounce his way sometimes, but he made good decisions and was able to hit dangerous areas for Claremont.
#32 Jacob van Rooyen
It looked like being van Rooyen’s day after he snared two goals in the opening five minutes, before Swan Districts made an important switch. The physically gifted forward converted three majors in the opening quarter with two coming from contested marks, while also assisting Claremont’s other two goals in the first half. Similar success evaded him after half-time, but van Rooyen still drew two opponents at each contest and brought the ball to ground, before working further afield in term four. During the previous period, he added a fourth goal with yet another strong contested mark.
#36 Eric Benning
The Fremantle NGA prospect had a big role to play for Claremont and after arguably being beaten in the ruck contest during the first half, he came to life with a massive third quarter. Benning began to not only win more hitouts, but also thrust forward a series of clearances to really impose himself on the contest and showcase his dynamism. That kind of follow-up work around the ball makes him a real asset in the ruck, and he finished with 11 disposals, four tackles, and 25 hitouts for the day.
Midfield mainstays Kendyll Blurton and Talon Delacey provided great value at the coalface for Claremont, each contributing 21 disposals in support of Sheldrick. Jacquin Ciminata and Max Mumme were ones to drive forward and give consistent effort, while Sean Williams, Jaxon Hayden, and Campbell Rogers played important roles in defence, and Patrick Kitchener looked lively at half-forward.
#1 Rhett Bazzo
Keen watchers got the match-up they would have wanted when Bazzo went to van Rooyen late in the first term, pitting two state representatives against each other. Knowing his opponent’s game well, Bazzo assumed his usual position on the back shoulder and opted not to engage in physical tussles. He was also helped by teammates giving him a chop-out as the third man up, but did plenty to quell van Rooyen’s influence himself. In possession, Bazzo was his usual composed self and distributed well by foot, finishing with nine disposals (seven kicks) and two marks in an important team role.
#2 Max Chipper
Chipper was not at his most prolific on Saturday, gathering 14 disposals and releasing plenty of them quickly. He played his usual role of being the outlet player, helping bring others into the game as they moved into space around him. The Swans wingman did manage to find a bit of green ball in the second quarter off a turnover in the corridor, running his measure and kicking long inside 50.
#8 Elijah Hewett
One of the more impressive bottom-agers afield, Hewett’s build and style of play suited the grand final occasion to a t. Through sheer will and strength, he broke many a tackle and managed to dish off handballs in situations where others wouldn’t. While impressively clean by hand, Hewett’s kicking left a little to be desired but his best work was done on the inside. He was caught holding the ball at a stoppage early in term four though undeterred, continued to challenge tacklers and produced a mercurial goal assist later on. Hewett’s elite endurance showed in his work rate, as he contributed 22 disposals and six inside 50s.
#20 Bryce Watson
With a few different balls to juggle on Saturday, Watson played a well-rounded role in defence and can hold his head high having notched 15 disposals and four marks. He mopped up plenty at ground level and looked to gain meterage with his kick penetration, but arguably looked sharper when using short options. Watson also read the play well to take multiple intercept marks and chimed in to impact aerial contests inside defensive 50 as the third man up – playing above his 182cm height.
#38 Darcy Jones
After a very quiet opening quarter, Jones quickly stamped himself on the game thereafter with spurts of speed when breaking into attack. He put pace on the ball every time he got hands to it, accelerating into space and putting the ball to the advantage of teammates by foot. That end product can do with some refining, but Jones’ positive intent and defensive efforts were important for Swan Districts. He finished with 10 disposals, four tackles, and three inside 50s.
#45 Riley Hardeman
With the match-up on lively Claremont forward, Kitchener, Hardeman had his hands full but fought his way into the contest. He was worked over in the early stages before getting his own back, using his patented pace to break on the counter and carry Swan Districts out of defence. Like Jones, the 2023-eligible prospect can refine his disposal at speed, but showed good intent to take on risky kicks and get his side looking dangerous on the rebound.
Swans had many great contributors on Saturday, as has been the case all season. Along with Watson, Lawson Humphries (16 disposals, three marks) was there to help Bazzo and impact on the rebound, while the likes of Noah Hannan (15 disposals) and skipper Ben Hewett (14, eight tackles, one goal) put in shifts through midfield. Goals from Ayden Cartwright, Bailey Jenkin (both two) and Tyrell Metcalf (three) also came in handy for the premiers, and Brodie Morris fared well in the ruck alongside under-ager Tristen Burgess.
Picture credit: WAFL