It’s a WAFL mystery. Peel, aligned with Fremantle, have won the past two premierships and few teams have looked so impressive during a pre-season. Meanwhile, East Perth, aligned to a better performing AFL club, didn’t make the finals last year and have started the new season looking hopeless.
At Rushton Park an ‘old’ concern raised its head for the aligned Thunder – finding a place for too many big blokes. While Sean Darcy controlled the ruck, Peel had Michael Apeness, Lloyd Meek, Scott Jones and Hugh Dixon loitering in the forward line – they took six marks (four by Apeness) between them and kicked one goal. Fellow Freo listed big man Luke Strnadica had 60 hit outs in the reserves while Jonathon Griffin, left out of Peel’s grand final team last year, was on the ground but fortunately back with his old club East Fremantle. Taylin Duman in defence and on a wing was Peel’s best player, Darcy Tucker got plenty of the ball, as he needs to do, so did Danyle Pearce, Traye Bennell’s marking in defence in the last quarter capped a very good game, Gerald Ugle kicked three goals and Sam Switkowski did some classy things. East Fremantle’s defence did very well in the land of the giants. Jonathon Marsh’s move to full back was a winner while Dylan Winton and Matthew Jupp were good stoppers. Jayden Schofield’s run from the back line was inspiring and Sean Fletcher kicked three goals in an impressive display. This was a better than expected performance by the Sharks.
Peel 11.12 (78) East Fremantle 9.9 (63)
The Lions are angry. They reckon the system has robbed them of the past two premierships* and want nothing less than a flag in 2018. They began the season on Good Friday by demolishing the Royals. Kyal Horsley, the most motivated Lion, was in brilliant form, Brad Stevenson kicked seven goals and Rhys Waters five. Ryan Borchet made a good debut scoring three goals – once again Subiaco have show their ability to replenish. Fraser McInnes worked well in the ruck for East Perth and kicked two goals.
Subiaco 29.14 (188) East Perth 10.10 (70)
Swan Districts pulled off one of the recruiting coups of the off-season by enticing Rhys Palmer to Bassendean. The 2008 AFL Rising Star award winner was best-on-ground and kicked three goals for Swans at Lathlain Park against Perth. Former AFL players Kirk Ugle and Todd Banfield also played well for the visitors. Spencer White kicked four goals for the Demons, Cody Leggett was good in defence and Corey Yeo’s first game for the Demons was a good one.
Swan Districts 16.16 (112) Perth 10.7 (67)
New captain Aaron Black starred for West Perth in a solid win over Claremont at Arena Joondalup. In addition to his usual many many disposals, Black made 16 tackles. Rudy Riddoch and Tyson Moulton each kicked three goals and Andrew Strijk used the ball well. The Tigers have found another good big man in Jeremy Goddard, Kane Mitchell’s return game was outstanding and Beau Maister kicked three goals.
West Perth 14.9 (93) Claremont 12.3 (75)
Round two: East Fremantle vs Perth; East Perth vs West Perth; Swan Districts vs Peel; South Fremantle vs Subiaco.
*Bad kicking in the 2017 grand final didn’t help.