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FALCONS BEAT SHARKS TO KEEP SEASON ALIVE

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 11:07 PM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth did enough to beat East Fremantle by 13 points at HBF Arena on Saturday on the back of a strong third quarter to see the Falcons remain in the WAFL finals race with two rounds remaining.
 
West Perth had to overcome a goalless first quarter and a one-goal first half with East Fremantle leading by as much as 24 points at HBF Arena on Saturday, but with the Falcons' season on the line they found a way to win.
 
On the back of some impressive football in the third quarter where West Perth kicked five goals to no score, it was enough to set up the crucial 8.15 (63) to 7.8 (50) victory. 
 
The win might not have been overly impressive by the Falcons but it was the four points that mattered to keep them in the finals race.
 
The victory improves West Perth to a 9-9 record on the season to remain just percentage behind the fifth placed East Perth. 
 
They are also just a game behind the fourth placed Swan Districts with a similar percentage with two rounds of the season remaining so there might still be two teams the Falcons are capable of replacing if they hope to play finals again in 2017.
 
It was a competitive performance again from East Fremantle who has had a significantly improved second half of the season compared to the first. The Sharks only losing to the Falcons by 13 points keeps them off the bottom of the ladder with their percentage remaining above that of Perth's.
 
West Perth welcomed back some important players who helped in the return to the winner's list with Andrew Strijk a strong contributor off half-back with 24 possessions and a trademark long-range goal.
 
Kody Manning was his usual hard-at-it self down back in his 99th game with 22 disposals and five tackles while Michael Lourey spent time in defence to free up Nick Rodda to play forward. Mark Hamilton also did a strong defensive job on East Fremantle big man Cameron Symonds.
 
The other return for the Falcons was the comeback of 192-game premiership winning on-baller Matt Guadagnin. It was his first league appearance since injuring his knee in Round 16, 2015. But he injured a hamstring before half-time to make his return bittersweet.
 
Tyler Keitel did end up kicking three goals for West Perth from 16 possessions and 12 marks. 
 
Shane Nelson racked up another 34 disposals in the midfield while Aaron Black amassed 29 touches, Corey Chalmers 28, Trent Manzone 28, Luke Meadows 23 and Aidan Lynch 19 to go with eight tackles.
 
Scott Simpson battled hard in the ruck for 13 touches and 26 hit outs.
 
The first quarter sure wasn’t anything to write home about from either side. There wasn’t a lot of reason for it either with only a slight breeze at HBF Arena and there was no rain falling despite some wet patches still on the ground.
 
East Fremantle kicked the only goal of a forgettable opening quarter thanks to Jack Perham while West Perth continued its trend of the season of struggling in front of goal. The Falcons kicked five behinds in the first quarter including several relatively easy shots.
 
East Fremantle then threatened to kick away during the second quarter with the opening two goals from Matthew Watson and Tom Marshall to open a 13-point advantage.
 
West Perth eventually kicked its first goal of the game at the 16-minute mark of the second term with Nathan Alexandre kicking the first major of his league career.
 
That would remain the Falcons' only major of the opening half, though, with the Sharks kicking two more goals before half-time thanks to Jayden Schofield and Cameron Symonds to be in control by 18 points at the main break.
 
West Perth's season was teetering on the edge at half-time and a loss to East Fremantle would be fatal to its finals hopes. As a result the Falcons responded well in the third quarter kicking the only five goals.
 
They kicked five behinds as well so the damage could have been greater still. But the goals from Tyler Keitel, Blake Wilhelm, Keitel again, Andrew Strijk and Nick Rodda all helped West Perth open a 17-point lead by three quarter-time.
 
Keitel did well to take two of his chances after three behinds in the first half while Wilhelm's goal was a perfect crumbing effort as he got to the fall of the ball and snapped truly. Strijk nailed a trademark long bomb on the breeze and Rodda also marked strongly and kicked truly.
 
It was two goals apiece in the last quarter with West Perth going on to record the important yet unspectacular win. But the 13-point defeat was enough to keep East Fremantle off the bottom of the ladder.
 
The day's action began at HBF Arena with the colts contest that saw the league-leading East Fremantle beat West Perth 11.13 (79) to 4.6 (30).
 
Dylan Yem kicked two goals for West Perth to go with 17 possessions, five marks and four tackles.
 
Daniel Rowe gathered 22 disposals for the Falcons, Thomas Boyes 18, Tyrese Miller 18, Thomas Medhat 16 and Nathan Murray 16.
 
West Perth's reserves then held on for a thrilling 10.6 (66) to 9.10 (64) victory against East Fremantle at HBF Arena.
 
Mitch Antonio was a dominant presence for the Falcons with 33 possessions, 11 marks and four goals. Tom O'Brien also booted two goals.
 
Conal Lynch picked up 24 disposals for West Perth, Dean Munns 20, Joel Horgan 18, Broderick Walton 18, Dylan Campbell 17, Angus Allen 16, Josh Hatch 15, Baylee James 15, Rudy Riddoch 15 and ruckman Chris Keunen 15 to go with 42 hit outs.
 
West Perth is a chance to return to the top five if able to defeat Subiaco this Saturday at Leederville Oval before the Falcons finish the home and away season against Claremont at Claremont Oval.
 
WEST PERTH 0.5 1.8 6.13 8.15 (63)
EAST FREMANTLE 1.0 5.2 5.2 7.8 (50)
 
WEST PERTH – Goals: Keitel 3; Alexandre, Rodda, Wilhelm, Strijk, Antonio.
Best: Manzone, Nelson, Keitel, Chalmers, Manning, Black, Hamilton, Strijk.
EAST FREMANTLE – Goals: McNamara, Perham, Marsh, Schofield, Watson, Symonds, Marshall.
Best: Marsh, Anthony, Watson, McNamara, Crichton, Schofield, Harrold.