The WAFL grand final came to Fremantle Oval and it was a classic.
For a change the WAFL got some luck with the weather with blue skies greeting the 10,179 crowd. Despite the sparkle the day proved difficult for the players. A strong wind favoured the prison end but it wasn’t easy to use and goal kicking from some angles was almost impossible. Well drilled defences love such conditions.
First South Fremantle and then Claremont did well into the breeze and at half time the home team led by just three points.
South controlled the early part of the third quarter but deserved, and needed, more than the two goals they scrambled. Then the Tigers surged and took a two-point lead into the last quarter.
One of the big advantages the Bulldogs had was high marking with Zac Strom, in particular, outstanding. He also kicked two goals. Fellow big man Jimmy Miller was also strong in the air and fittingly it was his goal after a strong mark in the last quarter that proved to be the match winner.
Declan Hardisty kicked a goal to reduce the margin to three points at the 19-minute mark and then followed about six minutes of tension, tackling and resistance.
Apart from Strom and Miller the Bulldogs got great service from captain Dylan Main and the skilful Haiden Schloithe in the midfield, mighty ruckman Brook Higgins, pacy Jacob Dragovich and defender Blayne Wilson who regularly popped up in the right places.
Claremont’s Jye Bolton won the Simpson Medal as the best player on the ground. His was an interesting performance. In the first half he got lots of the ball but in places the Bulldogs would have been happy for him to have it. In the second half Bolton was magnificent and almost dragged his team over the line. Alec Waterman kicked three goals for the Tigers to further enhance his reputation and Jared Hardisty was combative and creative as usual.
The atmosphere at Fremantle Oval and surrounds was tremendous. I don’t go to the footy to eat or drink but those that do seemed to be well looked after, the dignitaries were catered for and there was an area for the corporate types. And the scoreboard with its slick attendants was a wonderful sight.
Still someone thinks we need music during breaks but at least it wasn’t too loud and much of it was by The Church… maybe The Unguarded Moment foretold the story of the grand final. The sound system for the on-ground speeches was useless but the day was great. Imagine how good it will be with improved facilities.
League: South Fremantle 6.10 (46) Claremont 6.7 (43)
Reserves: East Perth 9.12 (66) Claremont 5.7 (37)
Colts: Subiaco 15.12 (102) Claremont 6.7 (43)