FALCONS WIN THRILLER TO STAY UNBEATEN

Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 3:26 PM

WEST Perth held on to win a thriller over South Fremantle at Fremantle Oval on Friday night by three points to remain unbeaten after three matches so far in the 2013 WAFL season.

Coming into the game fresh off the bye last weekend following first up wins over East Perth and Peel, the Falcons started strongly against the winless Bulldogs.

West Perth booted the first three goals of the game through Anthony Tsalikis, Rohan Kerr and Matt Johnson to open up a handy lead, and were still up by 19 points at quarter-time after Tsalikis added his second and veteran Matt Guadagnin his first.

The Falcons' lead then got out to 32 points early in the second term following goals to Mark Hutchings and Nick Rodda, with Rodda's especially impressive with a powerful kick from deep in the pocket.

West Perth was well on top with the running game that was so exciting in Round 1 against the Royals in full flight under lights at Fremantle Oval, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t lie down and kicked five of the last seven goals of the first half to close to within 14 points by the main break.

That then set up a thrilling second half with South Fremantle hitting the lead during the third quarter and were even a goal up over the Falcons by three quarter-time, but two quick goals to start the last term to Marc Crisp put West Perth back on top.

Despite South Fremantle continuing to press and climbing back to within a point, West Perth did enough to hold on and win 13.8 (86) to 13.5 (83).

The victory maintains West Perth's spot on top of the ladder after four rounds with a 3-0 record heading into next Saturday's home clash with the winless Peel Thunder at Arena Joondalup.

West Perth's defensive unit was outstanding all night led by Dan Hunt and Michael Pettigrew, while Jordan Jones was outstanding on Paul Mugambwa keeping the livewire goalless while Jones picked up 20 disposals himself.

Small defender Laine Rasmussen was impressive once again both defensively and with 17 disposals while Luke Tedesco had 17 touches as well Andrew Strijk providing some good run off half-back.

Steven Browne split his time between playing off half-back and up the ground further, and was a strong contributor all night finishing with 28 possessions and nine marks.

West Perth's midfielders were again prolific with Hutchings racking up 32 disposals, Aaron Black 30, Jay van Berlo 23, Shane Nelson 23, Guadagnin 21 and Kerr was impressive with 21 touches and two goals.

Ruckman Chris Keunen had an enthralling battle all night with South Fremantle counterpart Sean Tighe. Keunen finished with 19 touches and 42 hit outs, and Tighe 20 touches and 42 hit outs.

Up forward, Matt Johnson booted three goals for the Falcons with Tsalikis, Kerr and Crisp adding two apiece.

The colts and reserves then fronted up at Fremantle Oval on Saturday starting with the colts, but South Fremantle ran out 18.7 (115) to 5.11 (41) winners. Tyson Moulton kicked three goals for the Falcons while Joel Brown gathered 21 possessions and William Michell 17.

The South Fremantle reserves then also prevailed 14.14 (98) to 12.7 (79). Frank Stockley was a strong performer for the Falcons with 13 possessions, seven marks, 27 hit outs and three goals.

Brayden Antonio and Shaun Marusic kicked two goals each with Kris Shannon and Broderick Walton gathering 15 disposals apiece.

WEST PERTH                                                      5.1          9.3          9.5          13.8        (86)

SOUTH FREMANTLE                                        2.0          7.1          10.5        13.5        (83)

WEST PERTH – Goals: Johnson 3; Kerr, Crisp, Tsalikis 2; Hutchings, Guadagnin, Mellington, Rodda.

Best: Browne, Hutchings, Black, Kerr, Jones, Rasmussen, Keunen.

SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Guglielmana 4; Winter 3; Schloithe, Sgherza, Adams, Gillespie, Ross, Smith.

Best: Tighe, Miller, Guglielmana, Schloithe, Winter, Cook, Bairstow.

BY CHRIS PIKE