WAFL round 17
A lack of a plan B is a regular criticism in footy circles. I had one this week, it worked perfectly but ultimately brought me no good. First stop was the early game at Leederville Oval where the improving Perth faced the impossible-to-read East Perth and a chance to make that first-finals-spot-in-a-million-years a near certainty. The Royals were in control at three quarter time, 26-points up. The WAFL app was promising the upset-of-the-year at Claremont Oval so I took off – and heard a gate attendant try to charge a mum with a couple of kids $15 to get in in – at three quarter time! A walk to West Leederville station, immediate train arrival and I was at Claremont Oval for the closing moments of the third quarter, clinging to their lead over the unbeaten Subiaco. A check of the app showed Perth in the lead at Leederville – I’d missed that comeback but was still in with a chance of seeing the Lions lose, a rare sighting. Turns out neither of the romantic results came in but the fans had two three-point thrillers and I was, perhaps, the only one to attend both games.
Claremont were 17 points in front of Subiaco at half time. Accuracy was a factor with the Lions 11.1 late in the third quarter, eight scores fewer than the Tigers but only a few points behind. The last quarter was a thriller, the Tigers seemed out on their feet and fell well behind but lifted and a goal on the siren made the margin just three points. Subi’s gun midfielders Chris Phelan, Leigh Kitchen and Kyal Horsley kept the pressure on, Josh Deluca was constructive, Zac Clarke controlled the hit outs and Jordan Lockyer was cool in defence. Youngster Thomas Edwards-Baldwin kicked three goals including his team’s last. Anton Hamp was again impressive in the back line for the Tigers, Jye Bolton and Keifer Yu provided plenty of run, Dylan Smallwood did a big job in defence while Ian Richardson and Kaiden Gilbert each kicked three goals. It was a performance that had Tigers written into a number of little black books as a threat… if they can make the finals.
Subiaco 16.3 (99) Claremont 14.12 (96)
Perth did hit the front in the last quarter but a goal by Kyle Anderson after the final siren snatched a victory for East Perth. There was another turning point in this game. It came in the second quarter with Perth controlling play and Mitchell Browne about the take a set shot for goal. Some ill-discipline from Cody Leggett meant the ball was taken off Browne, swept downfield and in the blink of an eye Will Maginness was running into an open goal at the other end. Maginness scored again soon after and the Royals had a a buffer. Game changing? Sure was. Mitchell Dobson was a powerful performer for East Perth, winning the hard ball and using it well, Fraser McInnes rucked strongly and marked well, Maginness kicked three goals, Liam Ryan kicked just two goals but his pace was a constant worry for the Perth defence – one of his goals, that started with a smother in the middle of the ground, was astounding. Oscar Allen looked very assured and Patrick McGinnity worked hard. Veteran Clint Jones received a lot of attention but worked his way around it for Perth, Brant Colledge was strong in the midfield, Mitchell Henderson impressed and Corey Byrne made some blues but battled on and kicked three goals. It was a televised game and some Perth players may not like the clarity of the footage during the review early this week.
East Perth 12.11 (83) Perth 11.14 (80)
It’s been a horror season for East Fremantle and the lead-up to their game against out-of-form Swan Districts was a bit shaky. The leadership group introduced some non-negotiables early in the season in an attempt to sure-up discipline. One was about the importance of Sunday morning recovery sessions. Promising (vital) big man Cameron Loersch was late last week and, under the rules, should have lined up with the reserves. The “club” stepped in and Loersch kept his place in the league team. The result? Loersch kicked six goals and East Fremantle lost by 34 points. We wonder what the learnings would be from that one. Patrick Italiano was brilliant for Swans and kicked three goals in just his second league game, Kirk Ugle kicked four and veteran Tony Notte got three and caused all sorts of trouble for the Shark defenders. Steven Payne played probably his best game for Swan Districts, Jesse Turner was prominent and Alex Howard looked good in defence. Jayden Schofield’s dash and dare from the backline gave East Fremantle hope, George Hampson was in everything, young ruckman Michael Cronan battled hard and three Sharks on debut Corey Robinson, Nicholas Watson and Cameron Davidson all showed a bit.
Swan Districts 18.5 (113) East Fremantle 12.7 (79)
All the news from Joondalup has been bleak this week. The club has called in the receivers, there are surprise debts and emergency loans – and they trailed Peel Thunder at the three breaks at home on Saturday. And then 130+ years of history kicked in as the Falcons booted seven goals to one in the last quarter to storm to victory. Shane Nelson and Aaron Black were again unstoppable for West Perth, Andrew Strijk kicked four goals and Keegan Knott three. Mitch Crowden worked hard for Peel Harley Bennell again looked sharp and kicked two goals while Matt Taberner returned to footy and kicked three goals. Money in footy is perplexing. Apparently a $700,000 debt is threatening to kill off the West Perth Football Club. Their opponents on Saturday fielded 14 players on the Fremantle list. The average salary of an AFL player is $371,000, I’m assuming none of them earn the average (though Cam McCarthy, Harley Bennell and Hayden Ballantyne might) and a few are on the bare minimum of just over $100,000. So West Perth beat a group of players who between them will earn at least $3,000,000 this year. There’s money in footy. Somewhere.
West Perth 16.11 (107) Peel Thunder 11.10 (76)
The ladder: Subiaco 56; West Perth 40; South Fremantle 36; Perth 28; East Perth 20; Claremont 24; Swan Districts 24; Peel 20; East Fremantle 8.
Round 17: South Fremantle vs West Perth; Peel vs East Perth; Subiaco vs Swan Districts.