Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 12:39 AM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth and Claremont delivered what was likely the game of the WAFL season on Saturday with the Falcons holding on in a thriller by a point at HBF Arena to secure third position on the ladder.

Coming off a disappointing loss to Subiaco at Kingsway Reserve, West Perth needed to hit back and would have to do so without star midfielder Shane Nelson while Joel Leeson, Drew Rohde, Laine Rasmussen and Joe Morrow didn’t pull up fit enough to play on Saturday.

The good news was that Nick Rodda and Steve Potente returned from injury layoffs and for most of the afternoon the Falcons appeared to have the measure of the Tigers.

That saw West Perth lead by 26 points still at the 16-minute mark of the last quarter but Claremont needed to win to remain any hope of playing finals in 2016. As a result, the Tigers kicked four quick goals to close to within a point before the Falcons responded with Max Duffy's sixth goal.

But Claremont still refused to lie down and got another goal at the 36-minute mark by Tom Ledger following a mark by Beau Maister that saw him land heavily and be carried from the field.

But time expired on Claremont and West Perth held on for the thrilling and crucial 17.6 (108) to 17.5 (107) victory.

The Falcons have now beaten the Tigers three times this year by seven points in Round 7 at Kulin, three points in Round 13 at the Claremont Showground and now one-point at HBF Arena.

It was a crucial win for West Perth as well improving the Falcons to a 12-7 record on the season to be two games clear in third position with two rounds remaining. West Perth now has the Round 22 bye before taking on Swan Districts in Round 23 at HBF Arena.

If West Perth was to bounce back and lock away third position it was going to take some big performances from a different group of players on Saturday and it was Max Duffy who delivered his best game in Falcons colours.

The former Fremantle and East Fremantle forward pulled out his full bag of tricks on Saturday with a tremendous performance kicking six goals from 12 kicks, with several of his majors coming in a fashion no other player in the league could manage.

Kody Manning also was at his ferocious best for the Falcons and kicked two goals from 20 possessions, five marks and four tackles while Michael Lourey kicked two goals from his only two kicks of the game.

Defender Steven Browne also got forward to kick two important goals for West Perth.

Steve Potente made a strong return for the Falcons with 23 touches and a goal as well while Corey Chalmers gathered 22 disposals and Andrew Strijk 16 to go with eight inside-50 entries and a goal.

Without Shane Nelson to rely on in the midfield the burden went on to the remaining group on the ball for the Falcons and Rohan Kerr was prolific racking up 37 possessions, seven marks, five inside 50s, four tackles and a goal.

Dean Munns didn’t run with Jye Bolton as he had the first two times this year, instead going to Tom Ledger and holding him to just 11 possessions.

Ruckman Chris Keunen worked hard for 19 touches, five tackles, four marks, 26 hit outs and a goal opposed to former West Perth teammate Mitch Andrews who had 12 disposals and 48 hit outs for Claremont.

Aaron Black worked hard for 29 disposals and 10 tackles with Aidan Lynch also racking up 25 touches and nine tackles, captain Jay van Berlo 21 disposals, 10 tackles and a goal, and Trent Manzone 20 possessions and seven tackles.

Nick Rodda made a good return down back for West Perth and kept Darcy Cameron in check while Luke Meadows and Blake Wilhelm had 19 possessions apiece.

West Perth was battered and bruised following last week's loss to Subiaco and were coming up against a hungry and confident Claremont, but the Falcons got a good start on Saturday with an early goal to Duffy to set the tone for his afternoon.

Claremont, though, did kick the next two majors through left-footers Jack Beeck and Ian Richardson before two goals in three minutes for West Perth from Mark Hamilton and Duffy.

Lourey then booted his first at the 22-minute mark to put the Falcons 14 points to the good and despite a Claremont reply to Maister, West Perth still went to quarter-time with a 14-point lead after a late goal to Manning.

The Tigers started well in the second quarter with a couple of early goals to Zac Langdon and Maister before the Falcons responded when Keunen got forward and goaled for his first six-pointer since Round 2.

Maister, though, had his tail up and kicked his third goal soon after for Claremont to again cut West Perth's lead to two points and then Alexander Manuel put the Tigers in front.

West Perth answered immediately with a goal to Potente before a couple of minutes later again the Tigers responded through Jake Waterman.

The Falcons guaranteed a half-time lead, though, when Browne delivered a good set shot from 50 to put the home side a point in front at the main break.

West Perth then started the second half well with an early goal to Manning but Claremont got the reply through Manuel to be back within a point.

But a terrific goal from Strijk and then Duffy's third steadied the Falcons to a 14-point lead and that's where it remained by three quarter-time after Lourey booted his second of the day.

A goal to van Berlo, a mercurial snap from Duffy and then Browne's second goal then saw West Perth lead by 26 points at the 10-minute mark of the last term. Claremont got a goal back through Harrison McCracken, but the Falcons again led by 26 points when Duffy nailed his fifth.

It appeared to be the sealer but Claremont had other ideas with goals to Richardson, Jake Murphy, Murphy again and Darcy Cameron inside six minutes to all of a sudden make the margin one-point.

West Perth steadied with Duffy keeping a cool head to kick his sixth of the day at the 27-minute mark put the home team up again by seven points but Claremont kept coming.

Maister took a telling mark in the forward pocket and was knocked unconscious upon landing. Ledger kicked the goal eventually at the 36-minute mark and the Falcons just managed to hold on to win by a point in a remarkable WAFL contest.

Claremont's colts began the day at HBF Arena with a slow start to trail West Perth by 10 points at quarter-time but the Tigers got on top from there with 11 of the last 14 goals to end up winning 12.15 (87) to 6.2 (38).

Daniel Rowe kicked three of West Perth's six goals for the game while Bailey Chalmers gathered 23 possessions, Josh Rotham 18, Oscar Allen 18, Alec Johnson 17 and Lachlan Sherriffs 17.

Then in the reserves contest at HBF Arena, Claremont kicked away in the second half with 12 goals to four against West Perth to end up winning 17.14 (116) to 6.8 (44).

Tyson Moulton kicked two of West Perth's six goals for the game while Scott Nelson racked up 34 possessions to go with nine marks and six tackles as he continues to grow at senior level.

Mitch Peirce also collected 25 disposals for the Falcons, Brayden Antonio 24, Kris Shannon 19, Ewan Larmett 18, Liam Baker 17 and James Batterham 17.

WEST PERTH        5.3    8.3    12.6    17.6    (108)
CLAREMONT        3.1    8.2    10.3    17.5    (107)

WEST PERTH – Goals: Duffy 6; Browne, Manning, Lourey 2; van Berlo, Strijk, Potente, Keunen, Hamilton.
Best: Duffy, Kerr, Black, van Berlo, Munns, Lynch, Potente. 
CLAREMONT – Goals: Richardson, Maister 3; McCracken, Murphy, Manuel 2; Ledger, Cameron, Waterman, Langdon, Beeck.
Best: Richardson, Murphy, Lim, Bolton, Hamp, Maister, Hardisty.