WAFL round one
The pre-season view was that 2017 would be ‘one of the closest seasons ever’ – fair enough too. We never really know what’s in store for a WAFL year, for example 13 of Peel’s premiership players from 2016 didn’t line up in round one of 2017 – some are no longer at the club, some are in line for AFL honours with Fremantle next week and some are injured. Other teams have lost and gained while two new coaches have entered the picture Darren Harris at Claremont and Luke Webster at East Perth.
South Fremantle made a powerful start against Subiaco at Fremantle Oval and, aided by two goals from the new stricter interpretation of the forced behind rule, led by 23 points at quarter time. The Bulldogs look quick, kick well and have good targets in the forward line. Ben Saunders kicked four goals, Zac Strorm scored three and Mason Shaw got two in the first quarter but was kept quite after that by Declan Jackson. Subi showed signs of things to come with a good third quarter but Ashton Hams, who finished with three goals, helped steady the Bulldogs in the last quarter and they won comfortably. Brandon Donaldson kicked three goals in a lively display for South, Marlion Pickett was very effective in defence. Big man Jake Solomon, in just his third game, looked good for the Bulldogs. Max Walters showed he will become a regular for the Lions in 2017 with a powerful effort in the midfield that included two great goals, ruckman Damon Guiness worked very hard on debut, Liam Ryan kicked three goals after recovering from a couple of big knocks in the first half and Christopher Bryan was good in defence. It was a new-look Subiaco with about a dozen of last year’s grand final team missing – some forever.
South Fremantle 17.14 (116) Subiaco 11.11 (77)
When I tuned into the East Perth vs Peel game on Channel Seven from Leederville Oval the score was 1.8 (14) apiece and it was about six minutes into the third quarter. I won’t go looking for vision of that first half. Peel took control in the third quarter due mainly to remarkable performance from Leroy Jetta who finished with four of his team’s seven goals and set up another one. The Royals showed a bit in the last quarter but never got close enough. Hayden Crozier looked good for Thunder, Ethan Hughes and Sam Collins were assured in defence, Rory O’Brien was busy as usual and Harley Balic won a lot of the ball. Francis Watson was good for East Perth, Kurt Mutimer played his best game at league level and Tom Barrass kicked two last quarter goals when moved into attack.
Peel 7.11 (53) East Perth 4.12 (36)
There was a little bit of unease at East Fremantle after their season collapsed in 2016. Poor pre-season form didn’t improve the mood. The Sharks kicked the first four goals of their game against Claremont but then the fun ended. The Tigers kicked eight goals in the last quarter in a runaway victory. Tom Lee kicked five goals on his return, Zac Langdon kicked three in an impressive effort, Sandover Medallist Jye Bolton started the season in top form, Ryan Lim was good in the midfield and Beau Maister kicked three goals. Jesse Adamini was East Fremantle’s best player, Jonathon Marsh was good in his WAFL league debut after 15 games for Collingwood and Matthew Watson kicked three goals.
Claremont 19.9 (123) East Fremantle 9.7 (61)
Swan Districts and Perth filled the bottom two spots on the ladder in 2016 so their meeting at Bassendean Oval had a bit of extra meaning. It was close with the home team, inspired by Xavier Ellis with four goals, getting over the line. David Allard and Ryan Crowley were part of a strong midfield for Swans while Jake Nuich in the ruck also impressed. Michael Sinclair picked up from where he left off for the Demons, Clint Jones started the season well and East Perth recruit Clayton Giblett showed he’ll be a valuable pick up.
Swan Districts 12.11 (83) Perth 11.5 (71)
Next week: Saturday: Peel vs East Fremantle; Swan Districts vs South Fremantle; Subiaco vs Perth; Sunday: West Perth vs East Perth.