WAFL Round 15 Wrap
South Fremantle and West Perth have played out the WAFL’s first draw in ten years, sharing the points in an absorbing tussle as part of round 15 on Saturday.
Tyler Keitel won a free kick and kicked truly in the dying moments to keep the Falcons top of the ladder, Souths dropping to fourth spot thanks to wins for Claremont and East Fremantle on the afternoon.
The Sharks thrashed Perth by 96 points at the WACA to hold second spot on the table, Jonathon Marsh finding some form with five goals as Bill Monaghan’s men had 13 individual goal kickers in a dominant showing.
Claremont staved off a desperate Swan Districts side by nine points at Revo Fitness Stadium, pushing their opponents out of the top five in the process with Peel Thunder having a crushing 53 point win over East Perth at East Fremantle Oval, the game played at a neutral venue due to Leederville Oval being deemed unfit to host WAFL football due to constant Perth rain.
Game of the round was at Fremantle Oval between third placed South Fremantle and top of the table West Perth, the 91.3 broadcast game for the round in a season shaping clash for both teams.
Tyler Keitel kicked the game’s opening goal after finding space behind the Bulldog defence inside 50 before goals to Manfred Kelly and Haiden Schloithe steadied the home team, setting the tone for an arm wrestle of a contest.
A Rudy Riddoch snap saw the margin a solitary point to the red and whites at quarter time, West Perth gaining control in the second term but squandering opportunities, kicking four straight behinds before Brandon Donaldson kicked accurately for the Bulldogs at the other end.
In slippery conditions it was the Falcons small forwards who looked more dangerous, the returning Sasha Kernutt and Riddoch finally hitting the target as the heavens opened, West Perth up by ten points at the half.
After a sluggish second term Souths hit back within a minute of the third term through Caleb Datson, the teams going goal for goal for the remainder of the term in an absorbing contest.
West Perth led by just two points at the final change, a thrilling finish in store for two premiership contenders.
Mitch Dobson got free at the top of the goal square in the opening stages of the final stanza to kick a major for West Perth, Nick Suban providing a target for the home side at the other end as he squandered one goal kicking opportunity but atoned moments later, levelling the scores for the first of three occasions in the last term.
Tom Blechynden looked like he might be the hero when he snapped truly from 30 metres after a brilliant hard ball get from Haiden Schloithe got the ball out to the young gun, the teams trading behinds before Aidan Lynch marked a Nathan Alexandre kick inside 50 for the Falcons, playing on and kicking truly to put West Perth back in front at the 23 minute mark.
Dylan Main responded with a stunning snap from the pocket, the Bulldogs captain looking like he was going to be the match winner as he gave his side back the lead.
But with just seconds remaining Hamish Free gave away a free kick in the ruck deep inside West Perth’s forward 50, the reigning Bernie Naylor Medallist kicking truly from 30 metres to deadlock the scores once more.
Souths made one last frantic move forward in the dying seconds, time expiring before a shot on goal could be completed as scores finished at 9.11 (65) apiece.
It was the first draw at league level in the WAFL since 2012, and could yet prove to be a handy two points for both teams in the run to finals football in season 2022 in what was a thrilling contest.
Shane Nelson had 32 disposals to be among the best players afield, Mitchell Peirce (24 disposals) and Aidan Lynch (23 disposals and 1 goal) also influential in the clinches.
South Fremantle were led by Tom Blechynden (29 disposals and a goal) and Haiden Schloithe (24 and 1) who performed strongly in midfield in a hotly contested match, fans left wanting more heading in to September.
Claremont faced Swan Districts at Revo Fitness Stadium in another crucial clash for both sides, the Tigers looking to build on wins over West Perth and Subiaco against a Swans side hoping to remain in the top five in a largely impressive 2022 campaign.
The Tigers were inaccurate early, midfielders Jye Bolton and Ryan Lim both kicking two behinds in the opening quarter as the home team registered 3.5 to Swans 2.1 to somewhat squander their early dominance.
Swans were without a first choice ruckman for the clash, Brayden Noble forced in to the centre square from the forward line with both Matthew Germs and Nathan Ireland unavailable due to injury.
It allowed Ollie Eastland and Kieran Gowdie to win the ruck battle, giving the midfield brigade of Bailey Rogers, Ben Edwards, Bolton and Lim first use around the contest.
The Tigers had 15 scoring shots to six in the opening half but only led by four goals at the major break, Swans staying in the contest thanks to late goals from Jarvis Pina and Aidan Clarke.
First gamer Darcy Jones and Noble kicked goals in the opening 11 minutes of the third term to bring the visitors back to within two goals, a much more even contest playing out as Adam Pickering’s men fought hard to work their way back in to the game.
Lachlan Martinis and Tyron Smallwood both kicked majors to steady the Tigers, still holding a 24 point lead with a term to play.
A young Swans side finished full of running in the final stanza but ran out of time to overhaul their deficit, kicking three goals to one to fall nine points short of a comeback victory.
Bolton continued his love affair with Swan Districts as he racked up 38 touches, having had 51 against the same opponent earlier this season.
Bailey Rogers (37) and Ben Edwards (34) also racked up the ball, the Tigers with nine individual goalkickers in a good team performance.
Aidan Clarke was superb for Swans, kicking two goals from his 28 disposals in a supreme midfield performance while Jesse Turner recorded 25 touches in another fine showing.
Swans will be left to rue their own inaccuracy in the last quarter, kicking 3.5 to the Tigers 1.2 to slump to another narrow defeat, now outside of the top five with four matches to play.
Peel Thunder claimed Swans spot thanks to a comprehensive win over East Perth at East Fremantle Oval, the match moved from Leederville Oval due to unsatisfactory conditions from recent heavy rain.
The Royals were never really in the contest, Peel kicking the first three goals of the game and controlling the match from there on in, Matthew Johnson’s opening goal of the game from 70 metres one of the highlights of the clash.
Darcy Tucker was dominant in midfield, one of 12 Fremantle listed players in the Peel side who proved far too classy for a Royals outfit that lacked a genuine forward target to kick to throughout the match.
Tucker kicked three goals and could easily have kicked more having had five shots on goal, Sam Sturt pressing his claims for his first game at AFL level this season as he finished with a game high four goals.
28 scoring shots to 10 represented a dominant performance from the Thunder, winning every quarter as they look to make their move in season 2022.
Tucker had 38 disposals and kicked 3.2 to be his side’s best, while Connor Blakely (34 disposals and 11 tackles), while young midfielder Neil Erasmus had 32 disposals and kicked 1.2 to showcase his talent to the Fremantle coaching staff.
The Royals only managed 3 goals in the first 3 quarters for a second straight game, Nick Robertson and Nick Bonomelli each with two majors while Angus Scott (32 disposals) and Hamish Brayshaw (30) found plenty of the ball.
East Fremantle hit back strongly from their disappointing loss to South Fremantle in round 14, thrashing a dismal Perth side by 96 points at the WACA.
The Sharks were never headed after a five goal opening term, the returning Blaine Boekhorst with a goal in the opening 30 seconds to set the tone.
Young draft hopeful Jed Hagan snapped a brilliant goal in his league debut for East Fremantle, looking composed to showcase his ability for recruiters ahead of this year’s draft.
After kicking just one goal in the opening term Perth mounted a comeback of sorts in the second, Harry Quartermaine kicking three goals for the term but not enough to eat in to the Sharks lead.
The second half was a domination for the team in blue and white, piling on 13 goals to kick their highest score of a season, Jonathon Marsh with 5 goals after back to back goalless games as his season sprung back to life.
In all East Fremantle had 13 individual goal kickers, the 23.14 (152) to 9.2 (56) result Perth’s tenth straight loss in a season that goes from bad to worse, Haydn Busher unable to finish the game through injury.
Milan Murdock (32 disposals), Boekhorst (32 and 2 goals) dominated in midfield with support from Josh Schoenfeld (31 disposals and 9 tackles), the Sharks with winners all over the field in another percentage boosting win.
Corey Byrne (24 disposals and a goal) continues to try hard for the Demons with little support, Sam Stubbs with 3 goals and 16 disposals to support Quartermaine up forward, who faded after his second quarter heroics.
West Perth holds a two point advantage at the top of the ladder thanks to their draw with the Bulldogs, East Fremantle in second followed by Claremont while South Fremantle drops to fourth, Peel Thunder now in fifth.
Swan Districts sit in sixth just percentage behind Peel, the sides clash in round 20 looming as a potential elimination final ahead of finals time.
East Perth’s finals hopes now seem dashed two games behind both Peel and Swans with an inferior percentage, Subiaco, Perth and West Coast all certain to be spectators come September.
Round 16 sees only two matches due to a split round, Subiaco hosting West Coast at Leederville Oval while West Perth takes on East Fremantle in a top 2 heavyweight clash at Arena Joondalup in the 91.3 Sport FM broadcast game.
IMAGE: The West Australian.