Monday, August 28, 2017 - 6:37 PM by Darrell Kent

WEST Perth had its backs to the wall on a number of occasions at Claremont Oval on Saturday but showed real character to come away with a four-point victory. Both sides had a lot to play for as a finals spot was at stake and the contest reflected this all day. 

On a number of occasions the Tigers looked to have the game under control but the Falcons found a way to win in a match that culminated in a pulsating fourth quarter. The victory now has West Perth facing Swan Districts in an elimination final Sunday at Steel Blue Oval.

Claremont had the advantage of a pretty stiff breeze to start the match and the first major went to Ian Richardson who scored from outside 50. West Perth kicked a goal at the eight-minute mark when Dean Munns scored from the square after receiving a 50m penalty. The margin was one at this point in time but the Tigers took full advantage of the breeze for the next 20 minutes and opened up a 23-point advantage. 

For a change the Falcons benefitted from some inaccurate Claremont kicking and the advantage to the home team should have been more. It was important that West Perth make up some ground before the siren and they did kicking two goals. Andrew Strijk was involved in both. He passed to Michael Lourey who kicked the first of his four for the day from 40m and he nailed one himself after receiving a free 30 out. At the quarter-time siren West Perth trailed by only 11; 4.5 (29) to 3.0 (18). It was a good result after kicking into the breeze.

The second term was a real slog with each team only kicking a goal each. It was the 15-minute mark before the first major was scored and is was a second to Lourey who ran into an open goal after a clever tap on by Tyson Moulton. A behind followed and the margin was just five but the Tigers had the best of the rest of the term and by half time had extended their lead to 13; 5.9 (39) to 4.2 (26).

The task became even greater for West Perth as Claremont extended its lead to 20 midway through the third quarter. The game was in danger of slipping out of West Perth’s hands. But once again the visitors rallied to kick the last two goals of the quarter. The first didn’t come until the 24-minute mark and it went to Corey Chalmers who scored with a clever snap from the top of the square. The next came just before the siren after Moulton found Trent Manzone on the boundary 20m out. He kicked a very clever goal on his non-preferred left foot to reduce the margin to just seven at the final change. The scores were 7.11 (53) to 7.4 (46).

Before the final quarter started the Falcons team met in a huddle in the forward pocket and whatever was said by the Falcons leaders worked as they started the term full of running. The coaching staff had decided to isolate Strijk in the forward-line and the move had immediate effect. He scored two goals after marking close in. This gave West Perth a five point lead; the first time that they had been in front all day. 

At the six-minute mark Keitel took the lead out to 11 with his second from 40. West Perth was full of running but the Tigers were far from done with. They kicked the next three and as a result they led by 10 going into time on. Claremont appeared to be going well enough to get the win. But in an intriguing last quarter this wasn’t to be the case. At the 22-minute mark Lourey marked 40m out. He calmly went back and scored his third. The margin was now just four. 

Shortly after Lourey was once again in the action. He took possession 40m out, closed to 30 and kicked his fourth to give West Perth back the lead. Both teams had opportunities to kick another in the dying minutes of the game and when the siren went the ball was deep in Claremont’s forward line. To the joy of Falcons players and supporters the siren ended a nail biting final quarter of football with West Perth four points in front; 12.6 (78) to 10.14 (74).

The Colts and Reserves both went down but they ended the season with eight and six victories respectively. For the League team there was no better player than Nick Rodda in defence. He prevented a number of scoring opportunities. Michael Lourey with his four goals and Andrew Strijk with his three were also valuable contributors. Aaron Black celebrated his 150th game with 27 touches and he led the way for the midfield. Dean Munns worried Jye Bolton out of the game on a number of occasions and was the beneficiary of some free kicks but he did his job very well. 

An elimination final against Swans Sunday so be there to see where the season leads West Perth.