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FALCONS WIN VITAL ENCOUNTER

Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 10:20 PM
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Two wins at Shark Park in five weeks is hard to come by but the Falcons achieved this on Sunday. In a high class display West Perth led all day to record a fourteen point victory.

They kicked the first goal of the game and were never headed in an impressive display of team football. The win has kept the Falcons ahead of a group of teams who are fighting for a place in the four and second spot. Make no mistake this team is capable of matching it with any team in the competition.

Shaun Marusic got the ball rolling for the Falcons within two minutes. He received a free kick for a deliberate out of bounds, fifty metres and finished from fifteen. It was a bright start to the match for the second gamer.

Brett Peake then tied it up after scoring one for the Sharks but the Falcons then dominated to kick the next three. Marusic took a strong mark in the square to kick his and West Perth’s second, Matt Guadagnin passed to Matt Fowler who marked and scored from forty before Marc Crisp finished from the same distance after receiving a free kick. The Falcons led by eighteen after twelve minutes and it was a lead that they successfully defended for the rest of the day. The Sharks Brad Dalziell kicked the first of his three a few minutes later and the teams proceeded to trade behinds until youngster Matt Johnson marked from a kick in to take the lead out to twenty. The last two scoring shots for the term were behinds to East Fremantle and at the first change West Perth led by three straight; 5.3 (33) to 2.3 (15).

This match was the opposite to the previous encounter between the two sides in which forty five goals were scored. This was a much more dour performance due to the impressive defensive pressure of West Perth that prevented East Fremantle from moving the ball quickly. A strong grab by Marc Crisp enabled him to kick his second within two minutes. Ryan Lester-Smith kicked the next goal of the game but it was fourteen minutes after the Crisp major.

The only other score in that time was a rushed behind to the Falcons. It would be fair to say that it was a battle of the defences. Five minutes later terrific forward line pressure enabled Nick Rodda to convert from twenty after a strong mark. The Sharks replied after taking the ball out of the centre but the last score of the quarter was to Matt Johnson who ran onto a long kick forward and kicked his second. West Perth had extended their lead to twenty five and led 8.5 (53) to 4.4 (28) at the main change.

The Falcons were up and about early in the third term and extended their lead to thirty eight within nine minutes after majors to Nick Rodda and Matt Fowler. At this point in the game five West Perth players had kicked two goals each. Once again the game developed into a real struggle but it was always West Perth who appeared the more dangerous but this was not reflected on the scoreboard. The only other two goals of the quarter were kicked by East Fremantle and at the three quarter time siren the Falcons had increased their lead once again, albeit by one point. At the final change the scores were 10.8 (68) to 6.6 (42).

The class of Andrew Strijk was never more evident than at the start of the final quarter. The ball was bounced and went towards the Sharks goal, Andrew Strijk intercepted and handballed it off before he ran forward to receive a handball and finish on the run from fifty. It was pure class. The goal gave the Falcons a flyer and they led by thirty two within a minute. From here the quarter belonged to the Sharks as they managed to find some space for the first time in the game. They kicked four goals in a row to narrow the margin to just eight at the twenty eight minute mark. The Falcons didn’t really look like losing the game but supporters breathed a sigh of relief when Trent Manzone followed his man forward, ran onto the ball and kicked accurately to put the result beyond doubt just before the final siren. The game was completed with West Perth leading 12.11 (83) to 10.9 (69).

It was an important victory for a side that has played consistently good football all year. Best players included Jay Van Berlo who had thirty six touches, Andrew Strijk for the way that he set up play from half back, Matt Guadagnin for his work around the clearances, Chris Keunen for his ruck work and Dan Hunt for his steadiness in the last line of defence. The Reserves and Colts were narrowly defeated but the focus is now firmly fixed on the encounter with Subiaco at the Arena next Saturday. The day will be the reunion of the 2003 Premiership team so be there to relive that and get the 2013 version over the line.

BY DARRELL KENT

PHOTOS BY BELINDA TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY