Monday, September 4, 2017 - 2:34 PM by Chris Pike
WEST Perth couldn’t quite finish the job after hitting the front in the last quarter losing the WAFL elimination final to Swan Districts on Sunday at Steel Blue Oval with the Falcons season coming to an end in the process.
Swan Districts qualified for the AHG WAFL Finals Series in fourth position but had lost four straight games including a 61-point loss to the lowly East Fremantle last Saturday so it was always going to take something special to turn that around on Sunday.
West Perth might not have been in much better form losing seven of 10 games entering the finals too, but the Falcons were a team used to being there come finals time and who appeared better equipped coming into the contest.
But there were plenty of reasons to be inspired for those at Swan Districts with Tony Notte celebrating his 200th game, Tallan Ames having announced his retirement and with coach Greg Harding also stepping down after the season having been at the helm since 2011.
Then with the added boost provided by stepping out in front of 5637 fans and while there were certainly plenty of West Perth supporters in attendance too, the atmosphere provided by Swans fans is always a unique one.
Swan Districts then came out inspired and with the breeze behind them, kicked the only five goals of the first quarter. West Perth responded with the only three of the second term and then the game was up for grabs with Swans eight points up by three quarter-time.
West Perth then kicked the first two goals of the last quarter, but Swan Districts responded in style with the next three and that secured the 11.9 (75) to 8.12 (60).
The season is over for West Perth with the Falcons having now still not won a final since the 2015 preliminary final against East Perth at HBF Arena. They went on to lose the grand final that year and then both finals of 2016 against South Fremantle and Peel Thunder.
Despite being in the contest most of the day and even hitting the front again with the first two goals of the last quarter, West Perth just never seemed to get going or to have the game played on their terms throughout the afternoon.
There were still some strong performers, though, and as usual that was led by Shane Nelson who had 36 possessions, eight inside-50 entries and a goal. Aaron Black also amassed 30 touches while captain Jay van Berlo finished with 23 disposals and six tackles.
Scott Simpson worked tirelessly in the ruck for the Falcons with 24 possessions, 29 hit outs and six marks virtually taking on Corey Gault and energetic retiring veteran Tallan Ames on his own.
Dean Munns did well restricting the influence of David Ellard keeping the Swans skipper to 15 touches for the day. Munns had 12 disposals, four marks and four tackles.
Andrew Strijk was lively in attack for West Perth kicking two goals but he unfortunately also kicked five behinds. Michael Lourey also kicked two majors.
Steve Potente contributed well with 19 possessions while Blake Wilhelm had 18 disposals and Aidan Lynch 18 touches to go with six tackles and a goal.
Despite coming into the game on the back of four straight losses and then a 10-goal defeat to the lowly East Fremantle, Swans came out an inspired outfit with their season on the line. Things got underway with a powerful kick truly by Ricky Cary from outside 50.
West Perth then had plenty of opportunities but couldn’t convert and Swans made them pay when Kirk Ugle ran off Andrew Strijk to kick a terrific goal.
Jamie Bennell then delivered one of the goals of the season when he ran from the middle of the ground and with no player inside his forward 50, he outrun his West Perth opponents and drilled the goal from 40.
Jesse Turner then kicked another and so did the returning Levi Ridley as Swans opened up a commanding 26-point quarter-time advantage.
West Perth needed to respond and did starting the second quarter with some crisp ball movement before Luke Meadows swopped and snapped truly for the Falcons' first of the day 45 seconds into the term.
Strijk then enjoyed going to the attacking end drilled one on the run from 55 and when he kicked another with a set shot from 50 as well, the margin was just six points and Swans' lead was only seven by half-time.
Swans were again kicking with the breeze to start the third term and it paid immediate dividends when Bennell bombed one from just on the edge of the centre square that bounced through to put his team 13 points in front.
But West Perth responded with the first goal into the breeze for the day and it was a beauty from Aidan Lynch deep in the pocket. Shane Nelson then soon added another after a strong tackle earned him a holding the ball free-kick on Matt Riggio.
A terrific goal on the run in front of the packed outer bank regained the lead for Swan Districts but only briefly with Michael Lourey's first of the day for West Perth drawing scores level once more.
But the black-and-whites went into three quarter-time with the eight-point advantage after a late goal from Cary.
That had the contest evenly poised with Swans eight points up but the Falcons going towards the scoring end. That looked like giving West Perth the edge when Tyson Moulton and Lourey kicked goals to start the last term and the Falcons were two points in front at the seven-minute mark.
Passion and heart counts for a lot, though, and that's what Swans showed in spades with not only their seasons on the line, but the careers of a favourite son and their coach, and with it being the 200th game of another outstanding servant.
Small forward Taryce Stewart was well held all day by West Perth's Scott Nelson but he bobbed up for two goals in three minutes to put Swans back on top and then when Clutterbuck delivered his second running goal of the day to cap his best performance with the club, the game was over.
Swans went on to claim the 15-point victory and to do it in style in front of their raucous home fans who revelled in the celebrations afterwards with Tony Notte chaired off and then Tallan Ames celebrating as only he can in his final ever game at Bassendean.
WEST PERTH 0.5 3.7 6.9 8.12 (60)
SWAN DISTRICTS 5.1 5.2 8.5 11.9 (75)
WEST PERTH – Goals: Strijk, Lourey 2; Meadows, Lynch, Shane Nelson, Moulton.
Best: Simpson, Shane Nelson, Black, Munns, van Berlo, Potente, Wilhelm.
SWAN DISTRICTS – Goals: Bennell, Stewart, Cary, Clutterbuck 2; Ugle, Turner, Ridley.
Best: Crowley, Riggio, Clutterbuck, Taylor, Blight, Watson, Notte.