WAFL Round 6 Wrap
Perth is one win away from a return to finals football for the first time in 23 years, after a stirring 17-point triumph over Claremont at Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday.
Meanwhile Subiaco’s premiership defence is in freefall after suffering a shock loss to East Perth, the Royals leading for most of the day in recording a nine point win at Leederville Oval.
East Fremantle missed a chance to land a major scalp as they botched a 29 point third quarter lead to lose to West Perth at Arena Joondalup, while Swan Districts recorded their first win of the season against Peel Thunder at Bassendean Oval.
Game of the round was the Tigers-Demons clash, Claremont looking to lock away their finals spot while Perth was searching for a positive result to keep themselves locked inside the top four.
The home side dominated territory in the opening term with 17 inside 50’s to 2, but only had a nine point lead to show for it thanks to goals from Alec Waterman and Harrison McCracken, the former having an absorbing duel with acting Demons skipper Michael Sinclair.
Perth lifted around the ball in the second term and took their opportunities inside 50, Chris Masten slotting a running boundary line goal and Lennon Marlin, a late inclusion for the injured Brant College doubled his goal scoring tally for the afternoon with his second major.
Former Tiger Jack Richardson put his new club in front on the stroke of half time, Darren Harris’ men needing to find a response after the main break.
Ben Edwards opened the goal scoring for the Tigers in the third stanza, but Perth had assumed control of the contest in the middle of the ground with experienced pair Brady Grey and Masten having a telling impact at stoppages.
Logan McDonald bobbed up with a boundary line snap to hand the visitors back the lead, before Dakota Baldwin-Wright calmly slotted a set shot goal from distance to give the Demons a handy buffer.
Waterman broke free of Sinclair to respond for Claremont late in the quarter, a goal in it at the final break.
McDonald kicked the first of the final term for Perth but Waterman was a man inspired for the Tigers, kicking two set shot goals in a minute to level the scores and set up a grandstand finish.
With the game on the line it was the Demons who stormed home, kicking the final three goals through Sam Stubbs, Fraser McInnes and debutant Nathan O’Driscoll, the 18 year old draft prospect with the sealer deep in to time on.
The 11.4 (70) to 7.11 (53) result improves Perth’s record to 4-1, needing just one more win to lock away their first finals appearance since 1997.
Grey was best afield with 28 disposals for Perth, while defenders Matthew Taylor (29) and Jacob Coniglio (23) held up well under immense pressure throughout.
Star Tigers midfielder Jye Bolton had 25 disposals without his usual impact, while Bailey Rogers continued evolution as a midfielder continued with 25 touches of his own, Waterman with a career high four goals in Claremont’s first home loss of the season.
Subiaco is in danger of missing the finals for the first time since 2013 after suffering their third loss of the season to East Perth at Leederville Oval.
In a battle of the co-tenants, the Royals kicked the first two goals of the contest to show they were well and truly up for the fight, before the reigning premiers responded with the next two to sees scores level at the first change.
East Perth’s midfield was bossing the game, giving their forwards more opportunity as Eddie Simpson and Matthew Young looked dangerous in attack.
A four goal second term gave the Royals breathing space at the half, before the Lions got up off the canvas in the third term, led by captain Leigh Kitchin and key forward Ben Sokol.
However they were wasteful in front of goal, kicking 2.5 to 2.2 for the term to keep East Perth in the ascendency.
Try as they might in the final term East Perth’s lead proved insurmountable for the Lions, Jeremy Barnard’s men holding on for their first win over Subiaco since 2015, 9.9 (63) to 7.12 (54).
Dual best and fairest Nathan Blee was outstanding all day for the Royals, finishing with 31 disposals with great support from midfield trio Jackson Ramsay (29 disposals), Rohan Kerr (28 and 11 marks) and Angus Scott (26 and 10 marks).
Skipper Kitchin had 25 touches for the Lions, Greg Clark with 22 while Sokol kicked an equal season high three majors.
Swan Districts won the battle of the two winless sides against Peel Thunder, pushing away from their opponents in the last term to win by 29 points.
In what was a low scoring contest throughout, Swans nudged ahead early thanks to the work of George Hampson and Sam Fisher in midfield, Corey Gault controlling the ruck against undersized opponent Bradley McGowan.
The black ducks led by 12 points at half time but the Thunder came out with renewed vigour in the third term, kicking the first two goals to lead momentarily half way through the quarter.
They would botch opportunities to go further ahead, kicking 2.5 in the term as Swans hit the front again late in the quarter, a lead they would fail to relinquish for the rest of the game.
Four goals to one in the last term gave the black and white faithful something to cheer about, the Thunder with more inside 50’s but only four goals to show for their troubles as Swan Districts triumphed 9.8 (62) to 4.9 (33).
Hampson was outstanding for Swans with 25 disposals and 2 goals, but failed to complete the match with a suspected hamstring injury, in what was just his third match of the season.
Jackson Merrett’s terrific season continued for Peel as he accumulated 26 disposals, Ben Hancock with 25 touches and a goal and James Sturrock 21 of his own as part of a young improving midfield brigade.
East Fremantle fluffed their lines late after outplaying West Perth for most of the day at Arena Joondalup, the Falcons outlasting the lowly placed Sharks to win a thriller by four points.
Keegan Knott kicked the games opening goal, but the Sharks midfield began to lift their work rate and surge the ball forward, kicking the remaining three goals of the term.
Midfielders Cameron Eardley, Jordan Snadden and Jarrad Jansen were having a telling impact, although the Sharks vice-captain will face a nervous wait after being reported for striking Falcons skipper Aaron Black in the opening term.
West Perth couldn’t make any ground in the second term as the Sharks led by 17 at half time, extending their lead to 29 halfway through the third with a major boilover looming.
A costly free kick given away by East Fremantle in their forward 50 changed momentum, as the Falcons surged the ball forward for the first of three goals in the space of five minutes to reduce the deficit to 11 points at the last break.
In a tense final term the home side lifted, Black outstanding in midfield with support from Shane Nelson and Trent Manzone as they edged ahead at the ten minute mark of the last quarter.
There would be no more goals in the game as West Perth defending their four point lead, despite the Sharks best efforts to conjure a match winner, the final score 8.11 (59) to 8.7 (55).
Black had 26 disposals as he firms for a second Sandover Medal in a stellar career for the Falcons, Shane Nelson with 24 touches to offer able support and Manzone with 23 in another hard running showing.
Eardley was outstanding even in defeat for East Fremantle, racking up 28 touches, Jansen with 24 and Snadden 23 while skipper Jon Griffin dominated the ruck, recording 42 hitouts to give his midfielders first use.
The result seals West Perth’s spot in finals with two games remaining as they head in to their bye, East Fremantle set to miss finals for a sixth straight season.
Round seven sees Perth host Subiaco in the most significant game of the season, a win for Perth to seal a return to finals football and end Subiaco’s dream of a three-peat in the process.
Other matches see South Fremantle play Peel Thunder at Rushton Park, East Fremantle and Claremont meet at East Fremantle Oval and East Perth face Swan Districts at Leederville Oval.
IMAGE: WAFL website.