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TOO TALL A CHALLENGE

Monday, September 5, 2016 - 10:22 AM by Darrell Kent
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SOUTH Fremantle is the only team that West Perth had not been able to defeat during the home and away season and this trend continued at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday. On both previous occasions it was the tall South Fremantle key forwards who did all of the damage and this was the case once again. Despite the best efforts of the Falcons defence Ben Saunders and Mason Shaw kicked eight goals between them and Blaine Johnson added three at ground level.

West Perth had the first score of the game; it was a behind after Aaron Black hit the post from a sharp angle. This occurred in the first minute but the next 10 belonged to the Bulldogs who played some of the best football that you could hope to see. They kicked five goals in that period of time based on a brand of fast run on football combined with precision kicking and accurate finishing.

From this point in time the Falcons had the job in front of them. To their credit they rallied kicking the last three goals of the quarter. The first went to Joel Leeson who finished with a clever kick from the boundary 40 metres out and at the 20-minute mark Kody Manning hit Andrew Strijk on the chest at 45. His accurate kick reduced the margin to just 17 points and West Perth was working its way back into the game.

Late in the term Jay van Berlo received a free and 50m penalty. His finish from the square reduced the margin to 12 at the first change; 5.2 (32) to 3.2 (20). West Perth had worked hard to get back into the contest.

The comeback continued in the early stages of the second quarter. A precise passage of play saw West Perth move the ball from deep in defence into the hands of Michael Lourey 30 out. His accurate kick took the margin to a goal. Shortly after this an Aaron Black smother saved a certain South Fremantle goal from Tyson Pickett. His effort was one of the highlights of the game for West Perth.

The next nine minutes saw the ball move between both sides half back lines before Johnson kicked the Bulldogs third to take the lead back to 11; this was further extended when Saunders stepped up for his first. Just into time onManning threaded a beauty from an impossible angle under lots of pressure to reduce the margin to just 11 once again.

The Bulldogs finished the half with the last two scoring shots, though, and as a result took an 18-point lead into the main break. They led 8.5 (53) to 5.5 (35) but the Falcons were still in the hunt.

Any chance that the Falcons had was extinguished in the third quarter as South Fremantle dominated kicking seven goals to one. The only West Perth goal came at the nine minute mark when Leeson kicked his second. Saunders kicked three and Ashton Hams slipped behind the West Perth defence to kick two. The game was well and truly over at three quarter-time with the Falcons trailing by 60; 15.12 (102) to 6.6 (42).

West Perth outscored South Fremantle four goals to three in the last quarter but the sting had gone out of the game. Both teams had probably turned their thoughts to next week’s games. Max Duffy hit the scoreboard for the Falcons in less than a minute from the resumption of play. Souths kicked the next two before Lourey snapped his second. Nick Rodda, who had been moved up forward, scored from 20 and the last goal of the day was a third toLourey. At the final siren West Perth had gone under by 52 points; 18.13 (121) to 10.9 (69).

The Falcons now have the task of regrouping for a match against East Perth or Peel at HBF Arena on Sunday. A daunting task against one of the two aligned Clubs when you consider that Peel had the luxury of naming Jonathon Griffin as an emergency for the game to be played on Sunday. You would suggest that it would be a challenge for any WAFL Club to play a team that has eighteen listed AFL players representing them. West Perth has shown that they are up to the challenge in the past and let’s hope that that is the case next week.

BY DARRELL KENT
PHOTOS BY BELINDA TAYLOR