WAFL Round 15 Wrap
West Perth prevailed over East Fremantle in one of the games of the season on Saturday, Nathan Alexandre the hero with a goal inside the final minute at Arena Joondalup.
In a wildly fluctuating contest the Sharks led at one stage by 29 points early in the second term before the Falcons steadied, heading in to the final term with a 28 point advantage before Bill Monaghan’s men stormed home to grab the lead in time on of the last.
There were three lead changes in the final ten minutes of the match, Alexandre kicking truly after marking 20 metres out directly in front to give his side a memorable victory.
In other results East Perth made it three wins from their past four matches with a 9 point triumph over Perth at Lathlain Park, South Fremantle stamped their premiership credentials with a second straight win over a fellow finals aspirant, defeating Swan Districts by 36 points at Bassendean Oval.
Subiaco produced a barnstorming final quarter to power past West Coast at Leederville Oval, while at Rushton Park Claremont broke a two game losing run with a gutsy nine point win over Peel Thunder.
West Perth were eyeing a fifth straight win for the season when they hosted East Fremantle at Arena Joondalup, also shooting for nine wins in a row over the Sharks dating back to 2016.
Under overcast skies the visitors made an inspired start, jumping out to a 27 point lead at the first change with midfielders Cameron Eardley, Blaine Boekhorst and Jarrad Jansen leading the charge.
The rain arrived in the second term to make West Perth’s task even harder, the Falcons inaccurate in front of goal as they started to gain the ascendency around the contest, at one stage registering 1.9.
Tristan Hobley finally broke the drought for the home side before goals to star forwards Tyler Keitel and Keegan Knott had Geoff Valentine’s men within seven points at the half.
The game broke West Perth’s way decisively in the third quarter, Rudy Riddoch influential along with captain Aaron Black.
Keitel broke free of dour Sharks defender Matthew Jupp to kick three goals for the term, the Falcons kicking six goals to one to completely transform the match and lead by 28 points at the final break.
Just when it seemed normal service had resumed the visitors surged again in the last, Jarrad Jansen inspiring a revival after being thrown in to the ruck.
In the blink of an eye the Sharks had kicked five in a row and stolen the lead back, Lachlan Bailey and Alex Montauban looking dangerous inside 50.
In an epic finish to the contest the lead would change hands three times in time on, Keegan Knott winning a free kick deep in the left forward pocket and snapping truly before Bailey responded from a set shot a minute later to return the lead to the Sharks, leaving the visitors two points up.
With time ticking away Tyson Moulton speared a central kick to Nathan Alexandre, who tumbled in to mark 20 metres out and calmly slotted the match winner, the siren sounding just moments later as East Fremantle tried valiantly to go forward.
The 12.18 (90) to 13.7 (85) result gave West Perth some breathing space inside the top 5, Swans loss to South Fremantle putting them a game clear in fourth spot.
Black had 38 disposals for the winners, Keitel with four majors while Lachlan Bailey slotted four of his own for the Sharks, including three in the final term as his side fell just short.
Jansen (24 disposals, 10 marks, 9 tackles and 9 hitouts) was his side’s best player, ably supported by Cameron Eardley (26 disposals) and Blaine Boekhorst (24 disposals and 7 inside 50’s).
South Fremantle’s class shone through against Swan Districts at Bassendean Oval, controlling the match from start to finish as the reigning premiers made a statement under two months from finals.
It was a fairly even opening term with the visitors outscoring Swans two goals to one, dealt an early injury blow with reigning best and fairest Zachary Strom suffering a broken hand.
The Bulldogs were too strong around the ball and devastating going inside 50, the returning Mason Shaw and the redeployed Blake Schlensog forming a potent combination in attack.
Midfielders Haiden Schloithe, Tom Blechyden and Jacob Dragovich all starred for the red and whites, veteran Nick Suban also having a key impact.
There was no second half comeback from Swans who lacked any potency inside their forward 50, Jesse Palmer well held and Warrick Wilson going goalless.
The visitors lost defender Zac Dent to be down to 20 fit men for the second half but powered away in any event, Shaw with five goals as he looks to recapture his Bernie Naylor Medal form of last year.
Schlensog showed his remarkable versatility with four goals after two against Claremont in round 14, debutant Jesse Motlop (son of former North Melbourne and Port Adeliade player Daniel) kicking two majors in an impressive first up showing.
The 15.5 (95) to 9.5 (59) result saw South Fremantle retain the John Todd Cup, in honour of the legendary former Bulldogs player and Swans premiership coach, now setting their eyes in a bigger cup in September.
Schloithe (33 disposals), Dragovich (32) and Blechynden (33) all found plenty of the ball for the winners, who face an anxious wait on the severity of both Strom and Dent’s injuries despite remaining in touch with both Subiaco and Claremont.
Swans had few winners on a disappointing day at home, Sam Fisher (27 disposals) and Aidan Clarke (20 disposals and 9 tackles) among their best.
Subiaco overcame a three quarter time deficit to defeat West Coast at Leederville Oval, extracting revenge for the round 11 result that saw the Eagles record their first win of the season.
In a game that saw 18 of the 21 goals scored to the northern end of the ground, the Lions capitalised on the wind advantage in the last term with five goals to none, having trailed by 11 points at the final change.
The Lions were without ruckman Lachlan Delahunty due to a business trip to Victoria which left the 2019 Sandover medallist in quarantine, leaving second gamer Oskar Matthews and Jakob Atkinson to contend with Eagles big man Nathan Vardy.
Matthews was fighting a lone battle by quarter time when Atkinson exited the game with a hamstring injury, the home side down by 12 points.
The Lions famed midfield lifted in the second term, captain Leigh Kitchin, Greg Clark and Chad Harris all finding plenty of the ball while brothers Brandon and Bailey Matera looked dangerous inside forward 50.
A five goal to one quarter gave Subiaco a two goal lead at the half, but the Eagles hit back in the third term as Jake Waterman broke free up forward, looking like the match winner West Coast needed as he had four goals to his name.
Zane Sumich (21 disposals and 9 marks) was doing a superb job on former Bernie Naylor Medallist Ben Sokol for the Eagles, who were sensing a second upset over Subiaco for the season with a quarter to play.
It wasn’t to be as the Lions rallied in the last, Brandon Matera with three goals for the day as Subiaco held their opponents goalless in the final stanza to record a much needed win.
Kitchin was superb in midfield with 32 disposals and six marks, Clark with 30 touches and Chad Harris recording 24 disposals and two majors in a telling showing off a wing.
Waterman was his side’s best with a staggering 29 disposals, 16 marks and four goals, pressing his claims for a recall to the AFL side while Brayden Ainsworth had 33 touches, skipper Hamish Brayshaw with 30 touches as the bottom placed Eagles slumped to their tenth loss of the season.
East Perth recorded their third win from four matches with a narrow win over Perth at Lathlain Park, overcoming a late charge from the Demons to win 11.12 (78) to 10.9 (69).
The home side were down to 20 men for most of the day having lost Fraser McInnes and Kasey Nicholas in the first quarter due to injury.
The Royals broke the game open in the second term kicking five goals to one, East Perth’s midfield far too strong with Angus Schumacher, Jackson Ramsay, Rohan Kerr, Aidan Lynch dominating in the clinches.
Eddie Simpson looked the most dangerous forward on the ground, midfielder Schumacher producing one of the highlights of the match with a 70 metre goal, his first in Royals colours.
Six goals either side of half time gave East Perth the decisive break in the game, Perth launching a brave fightback in the last quarter that gave them a sneaky chance deep in to time on that fell just short.
Schumacher was his side’s best player with 33 disposals and two goals, Rohan Kerr finishing with 41 disposals across half back while Scott (33) and Jackson Ramsay (30 and 1 goal) also had an impact on the contest.
Perth were best served by defender Matthew Taylor (27 disposals) and Corey Byrne (24 disposals and 1 goal) while Jordon Reid led the ruck gallantly with little support due to McInnes’ injury in recording 19 disposals.
Claremont completed the round with a hard fought win over Peel Thunder at Rushton Park, winning by nine points in a rare Sunday WAFL fixture.
With the ground engulfed with mud due to plenty of overnight and morning rain skills were at a premium for both teams, the Thunder making an early break with the final three goals of the opening term.
Having been well held in the first quarter Jye Bolton sparked a Tigers comeback in the second term, providing forwards Jack Buller and Alex Manuel with enough opportunities to hit the scoreboard.
Defender Dylan Smallwood had already put forward his nomination for mark of the year with a towering grab over Thunder skipper Ben Howlett, one of few highlights in a dour contest.
Lachlan Martinis’ fine season continued for Claremont as he provided run off half back, the Tigers grabbing the lead early in the third term and failing to relinquish it for the remainder of the match.
Tyron Smallwood kicked three goals on a day tailor made for small forwards, Buller and Manuel with two each as Claremont broke through for a much needed win, 11.9 (75) to 9.12 (66).
It was the Thunder’s fourth loss by under ten points this season, showing once again they are good enough to compete with the best teams but ultimately not good enough to beat them.
Martinis had 34 disposals for the winners while Bolton had 26 disposals to strengthen his claims for a remarkable third Sandover Medal, Bailey Rogers (25 disposals and 1 goal) also amongst his side’s best.
Peel premiership player Ben Hancock had 32 disposals, Fremantle midfielder Connor Blakely with 31 disposals and a wasteful 0.4, Michael Randall (29) and Jackson Merrett (28) also with plenty of the ball.
Joel Western and Lachlan Cullen each kicked three goals, Peel still in sixth spot three wins out of the top five with six matches remaining.
Top three Subiaco, Claremont and South Fremantle remain only separated by percentage, West Perth now a game clear of Swan Districts in fourth and fifth respectively.
Peel Thunder, East Fremantle, East Perth and Perth are all 4-8 through 12 games, West Coast two games clear on the bottom of the table.
Round 16 sees West Perth back at home to host Peel Thunder, Claremont taking on East Fremantle at Revo Fitness Stadium, East Perth play West Coast at Leederville Oval, Swan Districts face Perth at Bassendean Oval while on Sunday game of the round is back at Leederville between Subiaco and South Fremantle.
IMAGE: Belinda Taylor/West Perth Football Club.