THINGS might have gone to script in the West Australian Football League’s (WAFL) most senior competition, but it was upsets galore in the Reserves and Colts with the lower ranked sides in both grades winning their respective finals.
Subiaco 11.7 (73) defeated South Fremantle 8.3 (51)
Claremont 14.8 (92) defeated West Perth 10.8 (68)
Minor premiers Subiaco booked their spot in the 2021 WAFL Grand Final, forcing a rematch between top three sides South Fremantle and Claremont. The Lions dominated the opening half with seven goals to one to lead by 34 points at half-time, before a five goals to three third term – and seven goals to four second half – saw the Bulldogs fight back, but not enough to get the win. South Fremantle dominated the hitouts (69-39), but Subiaco had more disposals (279-236) and inside 50s (43-28) to get the win.
Gregory Clark lead the way for disposals with 25 touches, 13 tackles and six inside 50s for the home side, as Hayden Kennedy (21 disposals, three marks, two tackles and four inside 50s) and Wil Hickmott (20 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two inside 50s battled hard. Lachlan Delahunty (18 disposals, 29 hitouts, seven tackles and four inside 50s) did his best against a ridiculous stoppage effort from Brock Higgins (56 hitouts), and worked well across the ground. Ben Sokol slotted three goals from 12 touches and eight tackles, with former AFL-listers Jack Mayo and Brandon Matera kicking a couple of goals each. For the Bulldogs, Mason Shaw (two goals) was the only multiple goalkicker, as Zachary Strom (28 disposals, five marks, five tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Matthew Parker (26 disposals, five marks, 10 tackles and four inside 50s) were also lively.
Meanwhile, Claremont earned a second crack at the Bulldogs courtesy of a four-goal win over West Perth in the do-or-die semi-final. Trailing at quarter time (seven points), half-time (11) and three quarter time (six), Claremont stormed home in the final term to slot 6.1 to 1.1 and run over the top of the Falcons to record a 14.8 (92) to 10.8 (68) victory. The Tigers had more disposals (349-301) and inside 50s (41-36) in the victory.
Jye Bolton was his usual consistent self, racking up another 28 touches, five marks, six tackles, five inside 50s and booting two goals for the winners. He was far from alone though with a remarkable seven players with 20 or more touches, including Declan Mountford and Lachlan Martinis (both 27), and Bailey Rogers and Callan England who combined for 42 touches, 13 marks, 12 inside 50s and 6.3 in dominant performances. Oliver Eastland had another 34 hitouts in the victory, with Alexander Manuel also slotting two goals. West Perth leaned on Tyler Keitel and Keegan Knott for three goals apiece in the game, with Rudy Riddoch (two goals from 16 touches, three marks and six inside 50s) the Falcons’ other multiple goalkicker. Shane Nelson (28 disposals, two marks, five tackles and seven inside 50s) and Aaron Black (21 disposals, two tackles, two inside 50s, one goal and a remarkable seven frees for) were others who impressed in defeat.
Swan Districts 8.5 (53) defeated by Subiaco 11.11 (77)
Claremont 10.8 (68) defeated by Perth 11.6 (72)
In the reserves, second placed Swan Districts were sent packing in straight sets, and the minor premiers Claremont were stunned in their semi-final, to now face a raging fourth placed Subiaco in the preliminary final. The Swans were bundled out by four goals against the Lions in the do-or-die semi, as the top of the table Tigers suffered only their second loss of the season to Perth, as the Bombers booked their spot in the decider after back-to-back wins over the top two sides.
With scores level at the final break, Perth kicked three goals to two in the final term to run out narrow four-point winners. Jayden Quill slotted two majors from 22 touches, three marks and four inside 50s in the win, as Conor McPartland (21 disposals, four marks and two inside 50s) and Marshall Jones (18 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and seven inside 50s) were also lively. Jack Steel (three goals) and Christian Eyres (two goals, 33 hitouts and 15 touches) were also able to hit the scoreboard multiple times. Ben Elliott had a match-high 23 disposals for the Tigers, also collecting three marks, four inside 50s and laying five tackles. Luke Knight (18 disposals, three marks and four hitouts), Samuel Alvarez (17 disposals) and Max Minnear (three goals) were also important despite the defeat.
Meanwhile, Subiaco sent Swan Districts out in straight sets courtesy of a four goals to one final term to run out 11.1 (77) to 8.5 (53) victors. Teenage talent Matthew Johnson racked up 27 disposals, four marks, three tackles and four inside 50s in the win, with Corey Robinson (23 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s) the other key ball-winner. Lewis Putt (15 disposals, nine tackles, 20 hitouts and a goal) was busy in the ruck, while Jordan Faraone and Jake Stergiou both slotted two majors in the win. Mitchell Bain had a team-high 21 disposals and five inside 50s in the Swans’ loss, with Thomas Edwards (three goals) and Nathan Ireland (two) the multiple goalkickers. Matthew Germs (14 disposals, 39 hitouts) was prominent in the ruck for the Swans.
East Perth 5.6 (36) defeated by East Fremantle 7.11 (53)
Swan Districts 11.5 (71) defeated by Claremont 11.14 (80)
Third placed East Perth have suffered a straight sets exit at WAFL Colts level, going down in a low-scoring loss to East Fremantle. The Sharks now set their sights on minor premiers Swan Districts, who after the week off, lost only their second game of the season to Claremont. The Swans finished three wins clear of the Tigers, but went down in a nine-point nail-biter.
Leading by 14 points at the final break, Swan Districts surrendered the lead as the Tigers booted an inaccurate 4.7 to 1.2, but it was enough to get across the line, 11.14 (80) to 11.5 (71) and advance through to the grand final. Kendyll Blurton was busy with 21 disposals, two marks, seven tackles and eight inside 50s, as AFL Draft prospects Angus Sheldrick and Jacob van Rooyen staked their case. Midfielder Sheldrick slotted three goals from 18 touches and three inside 50s, as van Rooyen kicked 4.4 from 13 touches and five marks in the win. Eric Benning (15 disposals, 15 hitouts and seven inside 50s) was also busy. Elijah Hewett picked up the most disposals in the game with 26, as well as three marks, five tackles and six inside 50s. Max Chipper (22 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) and Bryce Watson (21 disposals – 20 kicks – three marks and four tackles) also found plenty of the ball, as James Sullivan slotted four majors from eight touches.
An impressive four goals to one final term saw the Sharks also run over the top of the Royals after trailing by less than a kick at each of the quarter breaks. Down by two points at quarter and half-time and three points at the final break, East Fremantle finished the stronger of the sides with 4.3 to 1.1 in the last term to win, 7.11 (53) to 5.6 (36) and knock East Perth out of the premiership race. Josh Browne did his draft chances no harm with 30 disposals, five marks, two tackles and four inside 50s in the win, with fellow ball-winner Corey Warner (21 disposals, two tackles and six inside 50s) also lively. Taj Woewodin (19 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three inside 50s), Samuel Emery (20 disposals, seven arks, four tackles and four inside 50s) and Jed Hagan (18 disposals, four marks and seven tackles) also found plenty of it, while Jack Williams slotted 2.3 from 17 touches, nine marks, four tackles and seven hitouts. James Tunstill (23 disposals, six marks, five tackles and three inside 50s), Kalani Brooks (25 disposals, three marks and three tackles) and Luke Lombardi (22 disposals, seven marks) did all they could in the loss.
Picture credit: via WAFL Twitter