AFTER an unforeseen week away due to West Australian lockdown, the WAFL Colts returned on the weekend for Round 5. The latest featured game saw East Perth take on Swan Districts at Leederville Oval on Saturday morning, with the Royals running away 34-point victors to remain top of the table.
A fast start saw the hosts look like beating their opponents black and blue, booting four goals to nil in the opening term. But Swans wrestled back some momentum and territory during the second and third quarters, answering each Royal run to remain just within striking distance at both of those breaks.
But a powerhouse final period saw East Perth pick up its third victory of the 2021 season, bookending the game nicely with a further five goals to put some meat onto the bones of its winning margin. Boasting a terrific conversion rate, the Royals won out 13.5 (83) to Swans’ 7.7 (49), with both sides now losing players to the Public Schools Association (PSA) competition.
#4 Ethan Regan
The West Coast Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect showcased some exciting traits in the forward half, starting brightly and capping off his game with a couple of nice moments. Regan got amongst it early through sheer work rate, impacting ground level contests and applying good defensive pressure. He cut across to take a nice intercept mark inside forward 50 in term one, which saw him kick his sole goal of the game. Regan’s speed and skill would later come to the fore as he combined well with Jye Amiss, streaming forward and hitting targets by foot. Late in the piece, he popped up with a pair of eye-catching overhead marks on the move, reaching the ball at its highest point.
#7 Jye Amiss
Another who started brightly for the Royals, Amiss snared three of his four goals by 4:30 into the second quarter. Stationed almost exclusively inside attacking 50, the promising key forward had two goals on the board in a flash through terrific forward craft, quick reactions and innate goal sense. He is said to have improved his ground level work this year, and it showed in those moments. An in-the-back free kick during term two gifted Amiss his third major, while number four came in the final quarter after a mark on the lead. Goalkicking exploits aside, Amiss also had a nice moment in the third term as he desperately ran down an opponent, holding the ball.
#9 Kade Dittmar
While he was a force for most of the game, Dittmar really came to prominence during a powerhouse final quarter. His explosive ability from the centre bounces was evident, as well as his power running through the middle of the ground. Dittmar would be seen getting first hands on the ball, breaking away to bomb inside 50, and following up his kicks all in the same chain. His ability to stand up under opposition heat, fend off, and dish out was also noticeable in the earlier stages, before Swan Districts’ midfield got on top in term two. Still, Dittmar was able to impact through the middle and was very clean with his shorter-range disposal by foot – especially for such a bullocking inside type. Considering his primary role, he seems quite well balanced.
#26 Kaden Harbour
Harbour is a handy small forward who also rotates through midfield, providing a good amount of spark wherever he goes. He arguably looked most comfortable inside attacking 50 during this outing, where he was able to snap up a couple of goals and take eye-catching aerial marks. After an indifferent opening half, Harbour began to better impact as the contest wore on, helping East Perth break clear at the start of the third quarter with two goals in quick succession. The first came from a big contested mark close to goal, where Harbour rose from the back, while the second was a quick snap just as deep as he arrived first to the spillage. Known for his high flying, he’s difficult to miss in full flight.
Jake Littleton was in plenty early on for East Perth, operating on a wing and catching the eye under his helmet. Through midfield, James Tunstill found plenty of the ball, as Jayden Peak provided a bit of spark moving forward. The raw talent of Sokaa Soka, another West Coast NGA talent, became more prominent as the game wore on, while Luke Lombardi did some nice things exiting out of defence.
#2 Max Chipper
A permanent fixture in Swan Districts’ midfield, Chipper ended as his side’s most prolific ball winner and did so with plenty of quick-minded plays. Reasonably clean at ground level, the diminutive mover is not the most quick or agile out of congestion, but makes up for it with good vision and decision making on the ball. He tended to air his kicks a touch but generally hit targets and backed himself to do so heading into potentially risky areas. After a slow start, he worked into the game well during the second term and nearly nabbed a goal on the run from long range. After a solid outing in the black and white, Chipper appeared to limp off late in the final quarter after miscuing a kick.
#23 Luke Taylor
Potentially the most impressive player afield, Taylor proved his pedigree with a three-goal haul full of promise. The brother of GWS defender Sam, Taylor is a raw key forward with equally good potential in the air. While it was not always rewarded, Taylor’s work up the ground and ability to provide a contest allowed the Swans a chance to chain up play forward of centre. He brought the ball to ground on multiple occasions and had a few almost-marks, which he should begin to hold as he grows. Taylor kicked his first goal in the second quarter, using his reach to pluck a high ball in the goalsquare before duly converting. His clever leading patterns saw him gain separation and become an inside 50 target during the third term, which led to goal number two. Capping off his day, Taylor was gifted a third major via a 50-metre penalty, proving a handy reward for effort.
19-year-old Ty Sears had some nice moments running off half-back and the wing, without always possessing the finished product he would desire. Ben Hewett and Noah Hannan were both productive in midfield, while West Coast NGA talent Lawson Humphries stood up in defence. Up the other end of the ground, Bryce Watson popped up for a couple of handy goals, as Darcy Jones showed good promise and zip at ground level and Tyrell Metcalf got busy.
AROUND THE GROUNDS:
Headlining the news around Western Australia’s latest draft crop this week was the League debut of Matthew Johnson. Fresh off a solid showing for the AFL Academy, the tall Subiaco midfielder notched 11 disposals and five tackles as the Lions went down to South Fremantle. Elsewhere, star key forward Jacob Van Rooyen is being rested by Claremont after his glandular fever diagnosis, as reported by the West Australian’s Jordan McArdle. The start of the PSA season has also seen a raft of players become unavailable for WAFL Colts selection.
Back in the Colts competition, East Fremantle found a way to edge Perth in their clash on Saturday morning. Key forward Jack Williams again played a starring role with four goals, as Josh Browne (35 disposals) had the ball on a string in midfield and Melbourne father-son prospect Taj Woewodin (27 disposals) continued his good form. Jack Avery was a Goliath-like in Perth’s defence with 41 touches and 13 marks, as Zak Meloncelli proved his class having dropped back down to Colts level from the Reserves grade.
West Perth notched its first win of the season with a 23-point triumph over Claremont, with gun midfielder Lochlan Paton again finding plenty of the ball. He racked up 27 disposals and nine marks after managing 28 touches last round, while Zac Fleiner (26 disposals), Jordan Berry (10 marks), and Zarne Robis (four goals) all contributed in different ways for the victors. Talon Delacey delivered 20 of his 27 disposals by foot for Claremont, as Kendyll Blurton showed plenty more promise for 24 touches and six inside 50s.
South Fremantle became the third team to land on three wins as the Bulldogs beat Subiaco by eight points, with Liam Brandis and Jacob Plunkett combining for seven goals. Caleb Stephens (29 disposals, nine marks) was also fantastic in the win, as Fremantle NGA talent Ashwin Malik more than held his own in defence. Fellow NGA prospect Jesse Motlop kicked a goal from his 10 touches. Meanwhile, Jacob Evitt (18 disposals, two goals) and Blake Morris (13 disposals, seven marks) were solid for Subiaco.