WAFL Round 7 Wrap
Subiaco and East Perth have kept their finals hopes alive in season 2020, with wins over Perth and Swan Districts respectively as part of round 7 of the WAFL season on Saturday.
South Fremantle maintained their unbeaten season with a scrappy 35 point victory over Peel Thunder at Rushton Park, while it was another heartbreaking defeat for the luckless East Fremantle, Claremont holding on to win by 5 points at East Fremantle Oval.
All eyes were on Lathlain Park for the early game of the day between Perth and Subiaco, the Demons trying to lock away a top four spot and return to finals, extinguishing the dream of a Lions three-peat in the process.
Subiaco welcomed back premiership stars Kyal Horsley and Rowen Powell for the fixture, as well as debutants Aaron Breman (son of Todd) and Liam Hickmott (son of Adrian), while the Demons lost star midfielder Chris Masten, who will likely miss the remainder of the season with a broken thumb.
The Lions laid down the marker early, registering 11 scoring shots for a return of 4.7 as backup ruckman Jakob Atkinson starred with two majors and nine disposals.
Brady Grey and Logan McDonald took their opportunities for Perth, but an early buffer had been created by the first change, the home side never able to recover.
Star midfield brigade Leigh Kitchin, Lachlan Delahunty and the returning Horsley were controlling the contest, the Lions taking a 32 point lead in to half time.
Young gun McDonald tried to lift his team in the second half, taking the lead in the Bernie Naylor Medal race with his third goal.
The reigning premiers always had an answer though, despite Perth closing to within 20 points at one stage. Atkinson capped off his finest game at league level with 3 goals, Max Walters and Rhys Waters with two each to compensate for a goalless showing from an out of sorts Ben Sokol.
The 13.12 (90) to 9.10 (64) triumph lifts Subiaco off the canvas in season 2020, now only a win outside the four with matches against East Fremantle and West Perth to complete the home and away season.
Horsley (23 disposals), Kitchin (20) and Delahunty (19 and 23 hitouts) were outstanding for the Lions, Drew Rohde playing a terrific defensive game to have 19 touches, Atkinson in line for Sandover Medal votes with 18 disposals to accompany his three goals.
Perth missed talisman Masten in the middle of the ground, but defender Matthew Taylor and second gamer Nathan O’Driscoll (both 20 disposals) both had terrific showings, Brady Grey also prominent with 15 disposals and a goal.
Fraser McInnes came in to the game late with three goals to lend a helping hand for young tyro McDonald, but it wasn’t to be for Earl Spalding’s side who must win at least one of their last two games to play finals.
East Perth overcame a determined Swan Districts side at Leederville Oval, a five goal to nil final term giving the Royals back to back wins for the first time in 2020.
In a game that struggled for free flowing passages and exciting moments, it was East Perth who started the better of the two sides, kicking the first two goals of the game through Patrick McGinnity and Shaquille McKenzie.
Youngster Denver Grainger-Barras kicked his goal at WAFL league level to put Swans on the board, but East Perth were playing the game on their terms and led by nine at the first break.
Big men Eddie Simpson and Thomas Amos kicked the Royals further ahead in the second term, Scott Jones winning the ruck battle with Corey Gault to give his team first use of the ball in the centre.
While wasteful the home side led by 16 points at half time, Swans only able to kick two goals for the half.
The Black Ducks came out a different side in the third term, kicking the first three goals through Leigh Kohlmann (two) and Nathan Ireland to claim the lead for the first time in the match.
The game went up a gear as East Perth strove to keep their season alive, Simpson the most dangerous forward on the ground as he kicked his second, Jones capping off his ruck dominance with a strong mark and goal late in the term to put his team back in front.
With the aid of the breeze in the last term and knowing what was at stake the Royals pushed away from their plucky opponents in the final stanza, Rohan Kerr’s long range set shot starting the quarter in ominous fashion before Simpson capped off his best showing at WAFL level with two more majors, giving him four for the match.
Swans failed to add to their score at all in the final quarter, East Perth comfortable winners 11.9 (75) to 6.4 (40).
Jackson Ramsay’s outstanding form continued with 30 disposals for the Royals, Aidan Lynch (31) and Angus Scott (28) also racking up plenty of possessions as part of an accumulative midfield.
Swans recruit Sam Fisher led all comers with 37 disposals, more than double the next most for his side with fellow former Northern Blues player Frank Anderson having 18 disposals and 9 tackles.
Former Royal Steven Payne had 14 touches, Corey Gault with 14 of his own to go with 23 hit outs but without his usual impact.
The result leaves the Royals a win outside of the top four (plus percentage) with two rounds to play, needing to force an upset over South Fremantle in round 8 to keep themselves in the finals race.
East Fremantle visited heartbreak hotel for the third game in a row, a late rally not quite enough to topple Claremont at East Fremantle Oval.
The Tigers had no margin for error against the eighth placed Sharks, needing a win to feel comfortable about their finals spot with a nervous final round bye looming.
The visitors kicked the game’s opening goal through Alec Waterman, the fourth time this season the forward has kicked the opening major of a match.
By quarter time the Tigers had a handy advantage, kicking the only three goals of the term as debutant Edward McGinty kicked a goal with his first kick at league level.
The Sharks found their way back in to the game slowly in the second stanza, Jarrad Jansen and Ambrose Ryan finding the major opening.
Claremont were still 22 points ahead at the half, Sandover medal duo Jye Bolton and Kane Mitchell in vintage form as both players kicked first half goals.
The Sharks were unable to get much closer in the third term despite the best efforts of Cody Leggett, Tom Bennett and Jordan Snadden, the visitors on track for a comfortable victory with a quarter to play.
The margin pushed out to 29 points halfway through the final term, but the Sharks came storming home with the final four goals to reduce the margin to under a goal with only minutes remaining, Leggett kicking two goals in his best performance yet in an East Fremantle jumper.
Bill Monaghan’s men left their run just a little too late, the first time in club’s history the Sharks have lost three consecutive matches by a goal or less as Claremont clung on 10.5 (65) to 9.6 (60).
Bolton was best afield for the Tigers with 29 disposals and 2 goals, Mitchell with 20 touches and a major of his own, Declan Mountford pivotal in the clinches with 19 disposals, while Anton Hamp kicked 3 goals after overcoming a knee knock early in the game.
Claremont’s finals spot is now almost secure, with a huge game against West Perth at Revo Fitness Stadium to round out their home and away season next week.
Bottom placed Peel Thunder had their moments against undefeated ladder leaders South Fremantle at Rushton Park, but the inaccurate Bulldogs pulled away in the last to win 9.16 (70) to 5.5 (35).
In what can only be described as a bizarre opening term no goals were scored by either team, the Bulldogs wasteful in kicking eight behinds while Peel failed to score at all.
The Thunder kicked the first two goals of the second term before Kyle Russell finally kicked the red and whites first goal of the game in time on of the second term, having recorded ten behinds before an accurate shot on goal.
The home side continued to match it with their highly fancied opponents for most of the third term, the Bulldogs finally finding their radar as Mason Shaw began to impose himself up forward.
Hayden Ballantyne had two majors to have an impact in attack for Cam Shepherd’s side, only nine points down with a quarter to play in what would have been the boilover of the season.
The premiership favourites lifted in the last, kicking five goals to one to record a sixth straight win and have one hand the minor premiership and the coveted double chance with two games to come.
Jake Florenca’s outstanding season continued as the young Bulldogs midfielder had a game high 36 disposals, former Thunder player Nick Suban with 21, Jacob Dragovich returning from a three game absence to have 17 touches in midfield.
Shaw finished with four goals to be the dominant forward on the ground, his team’s only multiple goalkicker.
Jackson Merrett was outstanding again for the winless Peel, recording 25 disposals and kicking a goal, Brayden Lawler with 21 and key defender Josh Bootsma with 19.
It would appear only one spot is up for grabs inside the top four with a fortnight of football remaining, South Fremantle, West Perth and Claremont well placed with Perth holding the most tenous grip on a finals spot in fourth.
Subiaco and East Perth are looking to usurp the Demons, the Lions with a superior percentage( by 0.77%) and the Royals not far behind.
Round eight sees Subaico host East Fremantle, Claremont face West Perth, South Fremantle takes on East Perth and Swan Districts are at home to Perth, Peel with the bye.
IMAGE: WAFL website.