WAFL Round 8 Wrap
South Fremantle showcased their premiership credentials with a stunning eight goal final quarter against East Perth, overcoming a 27 point three quarter time deficit to defeat the Royals at Fremantle Oval.
Perth’s quest for a return to finals is now in jeopardy after dropping out of the top four with a 27 point loss to Swan Districts at Bassendean Oval, Claremont kept their hopes of a double chance alive with a 31 point win over West Perth at Claremont Oval and Subiaco returned to the top four with a 43 point win over East Fremantle at Leederville Oval.
East Perth had everything to play for in their match against the ladder leaders South Fremantle, needing an upset win to keep their finals hopes alive.
It looked on track early as the visitors burst of the blocks with five of the game’s first six goals, Ajang Ajang with a mark of the year contender as he soared over Brock Higgins to illustrate his team’s early dominance.
Jackson Ramsay, Rohan Kerr and Aidan Lynch were industrious in midfield while Bulldogs playmakers Jake Florenca, Haiden Schloithe and Jacob Dragovich were lacking their usual impact.
The Bulldogs closed back to within two goals at half time thanks to majors from leaders Mason Shaw and Dylan Main, but the Royals continued their dominance kicking with the aid of the breeze in the third term, Jayden Magro with two long range bombs as East Perth pushed their lead out beyond five goals.
Shaw kicked his side’s only two goals of the term as he broke free of opponent Corey Watts, but the result looked beyond doubt with Jeremy Barnard’s side leading by 27 points at the final change.
Having been beaten by Scott Jones for the first three quarters veteran ruckman Brock Higgins helped turn the game in the last quarter, grabbing the ball out the ruck on multiple occasions and rushing the ball forward to give forwards Shaw and Jimmy Miller one on one marking opportunities.
In the blink of an eye the Royals lead had evaporated, the Dogs slamming on six goals in 13 minutes to hit the front.
Shaw kicked his fifth major to continue his claim for a Bernie Naylor Medal, Schloithe putting the red and whites in front as time on arrived.
Goals to Caleb Datson and Main made sure of the result, South Fremantle kicking 8.2 to 0.1 for the quarter to remain undefeated and lock away the minor premiership with a round remaining.
Defender Chad Pearson was again rock solid with 22 disposals for the winners, Zach Strom with 20 touches in his newfound role on a wing while Schloithe and Florenca lifted in the second half with 17 disposals each.
Ramsay was outstanding again for East Perth with 28 disposals and 10 tackles while Rohan Kerr had 27 touches, Nathan Blee solid as a rock down back with 20 disposals.
The loss almost certainly ends the Royals finals hopes despite playing bottom placed Peel Thunder in round 9, needing both Perth and Subiaco to lose and a significant win themselves to qualify.
Four goals from in form forward Alec Waterman was a catalyst for Claremont’s 31 point win over West Perth at Revo Fitness Stadium, giving the Tigers a chance at a top two finish.
Despite missing talls Dylan Smallwood (hamstring) and Anton Hamp (knee) the Tigers started the better, kicking five goals to two to set up an early advantage that they never relented.
Waterman had two by the first break opposed to Zac Guadagnin, Ryan Nyhuis also hitting the scoreboard after starting forward to cover the loss of Hamp.
The Falcons were wasteful with the ball going forward, midfielder Mitchell Peirce kicking his side’s two opening term majors as forwards Tyler Keitel and Michael Lourey struggled for supply.
Tristan Hobley and former Tiger Keegan Knott pulled a couple back in the second term but the Tigers midfield group was outworking the Falcons, Jye Bolton, Declan Mountford, Kane Mitchell and Ryan Lim all having a telling say on the match.
Dylan Yem was stretchered from the field early in the third term with a leg injury, Claremont finding some momentum after that as Waterman kicked his third, debutant Max Spyvee kicking his first goal at league level to help the Tigers to a 32 point three quarter time lead.
There was no comeback from the Falcons in the final term as the home side closed things out for their sixth win of the season, moving above West Perth in the process ahead of their final round bye.
A Falcons loss to Subiaco will mean the Tigers remain in second and get the coveted double chance, while if West Perth defeat the Lions the teams will again swap places on the ladder.
Jye Bolton starred with 37 disposals for Claremont, Bailey Rogers (27) and Ryan Lim (23) having big games, Waterman with 16 disposals to go with 4.2 as the dominant forward on the ground.
Defender Blake Wilhelm held up well under immense pressure for the Falcons with 23 disposals and 8 marks, skipper Aaron Black with 22 touches but without his usual impact along with Connor West.
Subiaco overcame a third quarter deficit to produce a dominant final term of their own against East Fremantle, putting themselves in the top four for the first time this season with a 12.12 (84) to 6.7 (43) triumph at Leederville Oval.
Having lost three games by under a goal in succession the Sharks were hunting a big scalp and started the match well, kicking the first two goals of the game to lead at quarter time.
The Lions lifted their work rate in the second term through household names Lachlan Delahunty, Kyal Horsley and Leigh Kitchin, kicking three goals to one to cut the Sharks lead to a point at the major change.
Ambrose Ryan was having the best game of his young career for East Fremantle as a high half forward, while fellow youngsters Milan Murdock and Tim Bockman were finding plenty of the football and providing some spark for the Sharks.
Lachlan Bailey was providing the target in attack as he kicked his second major early in the third term, the visitors lead 12 points nearing the end of the quarter.
A late Kyal Horsley goal left things intriguingly poised at the last change, giving his side the lead that as it proved they would never relinquish.
The reigning premiers pushed right away from their opponents in the final stanza, kicking 6.5 to 0.1 to record a comfortable 43 point victory.
Horsley emphasised his importance to the Lions side with 26 disposals and two critical goals, Kitchin with 26 of his own while young gun Liam Hickmott had 24 disposals in just his second league game.
Ryan had 24 disposals for the fading blue and whites, Murdock with 22 and veteran utility Kody Manning having 20 touches across half back.
Perth’s finals dreams are hanging on by a thread after a shock loss to Swan Districts at Bassendean Oval, the Black Ducks leading all day in recording their second win of the season 11.9 (75) to 7.6 (48) in veteran Matt Riggio’s 200th WAFL game.
Swans burst out of the blocks, kicking three of the game’s first four goals before talls Logan McDonald and Fraser McInnes hit the scoreboard, a one-point game Swans way by the quarter time siren.
A six goal second term from the home side put the Demons on the back foot, Swans controlling the play and launching repeat inside 50’s to put Perth’s defence under pressure.
Talls Leigh Kohlmann and Tony Notte were having an impact and milestone man Riggio was in everything as Swans led by 22 points at half time.
After nine goals between the teams in the second term the third quarter was a bizarre affair, Perth squandering four chances to make an imprint in to the deficit while keeping Swans scoreless in what was a goalless quarter of footy.
The second half lacked the spark of the first but it didn’t matter for Swan Districts as the damage was done early, Perth only able to kick one second half goal as the black and whites soared to their second win of the season.
Kohlmann kicked 3 for the winners, Notte with two while midfielders Jesse Turner (27 disposals), Frank Anderson (24) and Sam Fisher (23), while Denver Grainger-Barras had 16 disposals and 8 marks in an absorbing duel with fellow young tyro Logan McDonald.
McDonald kicked 3 but lacked his usual impact, McInnes and Marshall Jones the only other two goalkickers with two majors apiece.
Startingly not one Demons player had 20 or more disposals, McInnes with 17 to go with 19 hitouts as he led the ruck, Brady Grey with 16 in midfield and Nathan O’Driscoll with 15.
The loss pushes Perth out of the four ahead of a final round meeting with South Fremantle, needing a win and a Subiaco loss to return to finals for the first time since 1997.
Round nine sees three Saturday matches, East Perth hosting Peel Thunder at Leederville Oval, West Perth and Subiaco squaring off at Arena Joondalup, Perth at home to South Fremantle before the final home and away match of the season takes place on Sunday, East Fremantle facing Swan Districts at East Fremantle Oval.
IMAGE: WAFL website.