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FALCONS MAKE IT FOUR STRAIGHT

Monday, April 15, 2013 - 11:17 AM

West Perth maintained their impressive start to the season with a dominant fifty eight point victory over Peel at the Arena on Saturday.

It was an even first half but the Falcons fitness and skill level was again to the fore as they ran away with the game in the second half.

It was a tight contest early and it wasn’t until the ten minute mark that the first goal was scored. This went to the Falcons when Marc Crisp received a handball after a bounce down and finished from twenty. “Chippa” has become a regular goal kicker in recent games. The second came shortly after when exciting prospect Matt Johnson bounced and carried the ball before he passed to Matt Fowler thirty out. He proceeded to kick the first of his three for the day. West Perth led by eleven at this stage and was doing best in a scrappy encounter. The next goal didn’t come for nearly ten minutes and it went to impressive recruit Rohan Kerr who read the ball off hands to kick the first of his six for the game. At the twenty five minute mark Nick Rodda kicked accurately from the boundary to give the Falcons the first four goals of the game and a twenty three point lead. Peel had the best of the last five minutes to kick their only two goals of the term and they were back in the game to trail by only eleven at the first change. Scores were 4.3 (27) to 2.4 (16).

Peel continued their good run into the second quarter and kicked the first two to lead by one after eight minutes. One of these was a second to impressive debutant Laine Wilkins. The rest of the quarter was a dour contest but West Perth kicked consecutive behinds to regain the lead before Nick Rodda once again showed his goal scoring ability by kicking his second after some good work by Mark Hutchings and Anthony Tsalikis. The seven point lead was reduced after a goal to Peel’s Kristin Thornton. The Falcons kicked the last two of the term though to have the momentum going into the main break. Nick Rodda kicked his third and Anthony Tsalikis marked fifty out right on the siren. His straight kick was a team lifting goal and gave the Falcons a thirteen point lead; 7.6 (48) to 5.5 (13).

The second half was all the Falcons as they took control of the ball and clearances. Their defensive pressure and running in waves saw them exert tremendous pressure on Peel and the score board reflected this dominance. The game was over after ten minutes during which time West Perth kicked four goals. Rohan Kerr started the run with his second after marking forty out, Matt Guadagnin finished on the run from thirty on a sharp angle, Josh Mellington roved the ball off the pack to kick his first and the run was completed when a series of precise passes enabled Jay Van Berlo to kick accurately from forty. Midway through the term Kristin Thornton kicked his second and Peel’s sixth. Kody Manning was responsible for the Falcon’s final goal for the term when he laid a great tackle which saw the ball spill to Matt Fowler who kicked his second. The lead was thirty seven at three quarter time; 12.9 (81) to 6.8 (44).

The final term was more of the same with the lead out to sixty four by the twenty three minute mark. Rohan Kerr led the way with three classy finishes and Marc Crisp kicked his second. Towards the end of the term Peel kicked two but the last major of the game went to Matt Fowler who kicked his third from forty. He is a beautiful kick for goal. Final scores were 17.13 (115) to 8.9 (57).

Once again there was a lot to like about the West Perth victory. The pressure on the ball and running in waves have been consistent features of the Falcon victories this year. This will be put to the test against competition trendsetters, Claremont, next week. There were a number of best players and they included Andrew Strijk who sets up a lot of play from half back, Chris Keunen whose ruck work continues to give midfielders opportunities, Kody Manning for his hard attack on the football, Jordan Jones who has become a key plank of the back half, Matt Guadagnin for his work around the stoppages and best was Rohan Kerr for his six majors.

Dan Hunt and Michael Pettigrew continued their terrific form down back and are both playing very good football. Congratulations to the Reserves who played a brand of football reflecting the league side to run out easy victors. Best players were Frank Stockley, Trent Manzone, Jordan Mills and best was Drew Rohde who kicked seven. The Colts are also to be commended for their hard fought three point victory. A trip to Claremont next week to play the unbeaten Tigers. Be there to see what should be an exciting match.

BY DARRELL KENT

PHOTOS BY BELINDA TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY

FALCONS BEAT PEEL TO IMPROVE TO 4-0

Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 11:05 PM

WEST Perth made it four from four to start the 2013 WAFL season with its most comprehensive performance to date on Saturday at Arena Joondalup beating Peel Thunder by 58 points.

Even though the Falcons did beat East Perth in Round 1 by 75 points, much of that damage was done in the second but on Saturday against the Thunder, West Perth was in control from the outset before running out 17.13 (115) to 8.9 (57) winners.

The Falcons have now beaten East Perth, Subiaco, South Fremantle and Peel Thunder to start the season with four straight wins leading into next Saturday's clash with the also unbeaten Claremont at Claremont Oval.

West Perth kicked four goals to two in the first quarter to be 11 points up at quarter-time but Peel was hanging in there with the Falcons just up by 13 at the main change.

However, the home side blew the game open in the third quarter with five of the only six goals that were kicked. That saw West Perth leading by 37 points at the last change and then 58 by the final siren with another five goals to two in the last quarter.

In just his fourth game for the club, Carlton recruit Rohan Kerr was the star of the day for the Falcons booting six goals from 15 possessions. Nick Rodda also booted three from just four kicks with Matt Fowler also making the most of his chances nailing three goals from seven kicks and five marks.

Marc Crisp also booted two goals for West Perth from 22 possessions and eight marks.

West Perth's midfield also racked up plenty of the ball with veteran Matt Guadagnin finishing with 28 possessions, Mark Hutchings 27, Josh Mellington 23, Andrew Strijk 22, Aaron Black 21 and Jay van Berlo 21.

Once again the Falcons defence was superb led by Jordan Jones keeping his former Peel teammate Brad Holmes goalless.

The West Perth reserves also had a big win over Peel prevailing by 48 points in the end.

Drew Rohde kicked seven goals and Anton Saylor three while Trent Manzone finished with 23 possessions and two goals. Frank Stockley also had 13 touches, six marks, 23 hit outs and two goals.

Joe Morrow and Kris Shannon picked up 18 possessions apiece.

The Falcons colts also recorded a thrilling three-point victory over Peel under lights at Arena Joondalup following the league game.

Tom Shadbolt, Tim Sutherland and William Michell kicked two goals each with Blake Acres picking up 27 possessions and Shadbolt 21.

WEST PERTH                                                      4.3          7.6          12.9        17.13     (115)

PEEL THUNDER                                                 2.4          5.5          6.8          8.9          (57)

WEST PERTH – Goals: Kerr 6; Fowler, Rodda 3; Crisp 2; Guadagnin, van Berlo, Mellington.

Best: Kerr, Guadagnin, Jones, Nelson, Crisp, Mellington, Strijk.

PEEL THUNDER – Goals: Thornton 3; Wilkins 2; Travers, Crozier, Orzel.

Best: Bower, Hawksley, Garlett, Motlop, Faulks, Jones.

BY CHRIS PIKE

ROUND 5 PREVIEW V PEEL THUNDER

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 11:23 AM

WEST Perth returns to Arena Joondalup this Saturday to take on the winless Peel Thunder with the unbeaten Falcons looking to make it a fourth straight win to open the 2013 campaign.

The Falcons started the season at Arena Joondalup and beat East Perth emphatically by 75 points, but it has been on the road since then with West Perth beating Subiaco by 24 points in Round 3 and then last Friday night, South Fremantle by just three at Fremantle Oval.

That has all led to West Perth being 3-0 to start the season, though, heading into a clash with Peel who is coming off the bye last weekend following first up losses to Perth, East Perth and East Fremantle.

Despite losing, though, the Thunder have been competitive in all three matches and still have plenty of Fremantle-listed talent including Peter Faulks, Jack Hannath, Tanner Smith, Craig Moller, Alex Forster and Viv Michie.

Combined with experienced and talented players Pat Travers, James Hawksley, Matt Orzel, Brendon Jones, Kristin Thornton, Paul Bower, Brad Holmes, Marlon Motlop and Cruize Garlett, and Peel has enough talented to push West Perth.

Falcons coach Bill Monaghan certainly knows that even though West Perth holds a 16-2 record over Peel at Arena Joondalup.

At this stage, nobody is out of the West Perth team that beat South Fremantle last Friday night with Frank Stockley, Anton Saylor and Shaun Marusic coming into the squad. Captain Jason Salecic didn’t quite get up in time to be passed fit to play.

Monaghan will make sure the Falcons don't take Peel lightly.

"Peel has pretty good form for a side who is 0-3. In their first two games they kicked really poorly at goal and that probably made a significant bearing on those losses," Monaghan said.

"Then I went down and watched them against East Fremantle and their field kicking probably let them down that day.

"They were up and about, and even though East Fremantle skipped away a couple of times, they played some good footy and we will be foolish to think they won't play good footy this week."

It has been a month since West Perth has played at Arena Joondalup so Monaghan is looking forward to his team getting back out onto home turf come Saturday as Peel makes the biggest journey in WAFL football.

"It is always good to get back home," Monaghan said.

"The grass has grown back well and it has been a warm week with a forecast for some rain on Saturday, so hopefully it will hold off and we get a decent crowd for us to put on a decent performance in front of."

BY CHRIS PIKE

EMERGING STAR BLACK FOCUSES ON IMPROVEMENT

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 8:00 PM

AARON Black is one of the young faces of West Perth looking to usher in a new era of success by being a key member of the midfield for years to come, but improvement personally and for the team continues to be his goal.

The 20-year-old has now played 42 league matches for West Perth having been a regular member of the team the last two years and now becoming a key cog of the midfield whether he's playing on the ball or on the wing.

He has had another strong start to the season including his best performance in last Friday's three-point win over South Fremantle at Fremantle Oval where he finished with 30 possessions, seven marks and four entries inside-50.

While happy with the way his game is developing, Black knows there are areas for him to improve in and kicking more goals is one of those. He has booted just 10 goals in his 42 games to date.

"I'm reasonably happy with my start but there are always things you can work on, and I think on the weekend it was probably my best game of the three," Black said.

"One thing that is really important for me is to make sure that I improve the attacking side of my game, and kick a few more goals but really I'm just happy for us to get the three wins on the board. That's the most important thing and if I can contribute, it's just a bonus."

Black was given his first taste of league football in 2010 with five games and by 2011, he had become a regular member of the team and by last year, a strong performer week in and week out in the midfield.

That has continued for Black this year and it's been a similar story for his good friend Shane Nelson.

"Definitely this year and towards the middle part of last year I really started to feel like it was my time and I started to show the coaches that they were right to show the faith in me to play me at such a young age. It's good to repay them for playing me so early and if I can continue the good form I have been showing," he said.

"Me and him always have little running competitions together because we are good mates and we push each other a little bit as well. We always get the most out of each other when we are out there playing. We do have a bit of fun and it's good to be able to play together."

While the young players like Black, Nelson, Marc Crisp, Matthew Johnson, Laine Rasmussen, Nick Rodda and Kody Manning continue to show tremendous signs of development, there's no doubt their progress is helped by the presence of Jason Salecic, Matt Guadagnin, Michael Pettigrew, Dan Hunt, Ray Bartholomew and Anthony Tsalikis, among others.

"We've learned a lot from those senior guys as well and it's great to have them around to help us, and they still give us a run for our money when they are in the middle with us as well," he said.

"It's definitely been a good help having them there and we really appreciate that Bill has given us an opportunity to get a run through the middle where we are hopefully repaying him."

Perhaps the most pleasing factors of West Perth's unbeaten start to the season is the fact that the coaching staff and playing group feel as though there is still plenty of improvement, but there's also plenty of pressure on for spots.

Anton Saylor, Michael Mascoulis, Alex Elisseou, Joe Morrow, Frank Stockley, Kris Shannon, Shaun Marusic, Brayden Antonio and Trent Manzone are in the reserves and more than capable league footballers, so the pressure is on for the entire 22 to keep performing.

"We've played really well in the first three games even though obviously there are a few things to work on, especially skill-wise," he said.

"Our kicking has probably let us down the most the first three weeks, so that's something that has been a bit disappointing but we know when that comes that we will be even better. Our defence has been really good the first three weeks and that's something we pride ourselves on under Bill.

"We are putting pressure on each other which we didn’t really do as much last year. We are putting pressure on each other to better ourselves and even though we're not playing at our best, to win games and win close games is good because we might not have been able to do that last year."

West Perth held on against a winless team South Fremantle last Friday night at Fremantle Oval and now returns to Arena Joondalup this Saturday for the first time since Round 1 to take on a Peel Thunder side that is yet to win a game in 2013.

Black knows that doesn’t mean it's going to be an easy task for the Falcons to come away with the four points though.

"It's a similar story to South Freo last week. They were 0-2 and came out and gave us a run for our money so we just have to take Peel like they are a top four side, and play like we have been and hopefully improve in the areas that we need to," Black said.

"We really try to make it a fortress and to win all our games at home, that's our goal. It's good to play in front of the home fans and get that support.

"Obviously you don’t get as much support at the other grounds and it's good to come back here. We like playing on the bigger ground too. It allows us to get our runners into space so they can take the game on a bit more."

BY CHRIS PIKE

BILL'S GRILL – ROUND 4

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 10:34 AM

WE have been solid across the board, but I have been really impressed with our back six. We have a good blend of youth and experience down there and they have been a big reason why we are 3-0.

Dan and Petters have been outstanding and have really set the tone, and with Strijky back in the mix with Browney and Luke Ted there are some good players back there.

Rasmussen is also doing well and we have pushed Jordan Jones back to play as that third tall, and he's good in the air. He is 191cm and I don’t think people realise that he is a genuinely tall man so he has been able to play tall and a bit short at times, so that's added a bit to us. We are happy with the way they are going, but there are going to be other challenges throughout the year that we need to stand up to. At the moment it's holding up, though, and we just need to keep backing them in against whatever the opposition dish up to us.

With Strijky coming back to us the plan was to always play him back and we always thought Laine Rasmussen was a quality young player coming through and Petters was up and down last year, and had some significant issues with his knee. Whilst it was an area we potentially lost a lot in, we had been planning for Burnsy and Lecca to go at some stage, the one that threw us a bit was Dion Fleay but that's probably the role that Jordan Jones is playing at the moment.

Having Jordy in the side meant that covering 'Dizzy' hasn’t been a huge issue, but we also know that it's more to do with the quality of our defence all over the ground. We can talk about a back six, but football isn’t about that anymore. It's about the pressure you can put on from the goal line at one end to the goal line at the other end. We have been good at that even though there are still areas for us to improve in.

It was a really entertaining game last Friday and I thought both sides threw everything at it as you would expect when we were playing a side who was 0-2 and desperate to get on the board. Travelling down to Fremantle on a Friday night always poses difficulties and South are generally good down there under lights, and us coming off a bye is something we haven't been good at historically. I still think that's a general trend amongst the WAFL that sides lose a bit of continuity with a bye and can feel a bit rusty after it depending on what you do with that bye week.

With both of those being a reality on Friday night, we would have taken a win under any circumstances. Whilst we were good early, to South's credit they put us under pressure in the middle quarters and were fantastic. We got headed late in the third quarter, but the players really dug deep and played a really tough, grinding brand of footy to get the points in the end. It was a pleasure to sing the song and get out of there with another win before we start worrying about how we go about trying to beat Peel this weekend.

The players have great belief at the moment after a solid pre-season campaign followed by some good form in the pre-season matches meant that they have hit the season proper feeling confident in what we've been doing, and the structures and game plan that we are implementing. For them to be on the back foot really late in the second quarter after a couple of undisciplined acts, and then struggling to score in the third quarter and dig deep and get back to playing our brand of football was a credit to their belief in what we are doing, and also their work rate to sustain that.

We need to be careful that obviously we have started well and clubs are still feeling out where they sit in the whole pecking order, and the sides we have played might end up being good or they might not. It was great to be challenged on Friday and it was great to be able to stand up to that challenge, but we also know there are greater challenges ahead and we expect Peel this week to be just that.

BY BILL MONAGHAN

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

ROUND 4 PREVIEW V SOUTH FREMANTLE

Friday, April 5, 2013 - 11:57 AM

WEST Perth returns to action tonight at Fremantle Oval following the bye looking to continuing its unbeaten start to the 2013 season against the so-far winless South Fremantle.

The Falcons have started the 2013 season in tremendous fashion beating East Perth by 75 points in Round 1 at Arena Joondalup and then backing that up with a 24-point win over Subiaco at Leederville's Medibank Stadium in Round 2.

They have had the bye last weekend over Easter to freshen up and prepare to head to Fremantle Oval tonight now to take on a South Fremantle side that has suffered first-up losses to Claremont and Perth away from home.

While overall South Fremantle has always performed well under lights at Fremantle Oval, West Perth has done well there on Friday nights.

The Bulldogs and Falcons have met on just four occasions in night games at the port, but West Perth have won three of those.

West Perth first won at Fremantle Oval back in Round 6, 2002 by a solitary point and has since backed it up with a 36-point win in Round 1, 2004 and then by 26 points in Round 21, 2010.

The only loss to the Bulldogs came by 64 points in Round 16, 2010 when the Falcons managed just the three goals on that night.

However, that history shows that playing Friday night games at Fremantle Oval certainly holds no fears for West Perth.

A big factor behind West Perth's strong start to the season has been the health of the squad. Even though captain Jason Salecic goes out of the side to face the Bulldogs, Marc Crisp, Trent Manzone and Anton Saylor are all quality players desperate to try and replace him.

West Perth coach Bill Monaghan is glad to have strong pressure from underneath that will continue to make sure that the league side maintains its strong form.

"Chipper and Trent were really unlucky to be forced out of the side last week and we need to wait and see if Mellington and Hutchings' form is good enough to push them up into the AFL, and that opens up a couple of spots and suddenly with an injury or two those players can get their opportunities," Monaghan said.

"We just need to be aware that we have to keep those guys in form and motivated, and that when they get their opportunities they are ready to go and fill their role in the side. That's all we ask of them and at this stage we've had two games and not a lot of spots in the side are opening up, but it's a long season and we just need all those guys to be playing good footy at the right time."

BY CHRIS PIKE

RASMUSSEN PAYING BACK FAITH SHOWN IN HIM

Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 7:30 PM

LAINE Rasmussen was earmarked by the West Perth coaching staff as someone to help fill the gap left by the retirement of the defensive stars and two games in, he has been a key factor in the Falcons' wins over East Perth and Subiaco.

Rasmussen was given a taste of league football in 2012 playing 12 games and showing some good signs in a variety of roles, but following the retirement of small defender Dustin Burns over the pre-season, both he and the coaching staff saw an opening down back.

The recently turned 20-year-old then focused over the pre-season on getting himself ready to play as a small defender to help fill the position vacated by the 172-gamer Burns, and so far two rounds in Rasmussen has done an outstanding job.

"I talked to the coaching staff at the end of last season about where they were looking to play me this year, and they said that probably more through the back-line. Then I heard the news of Dustin Burns retiring and I saw a spot there that I could potentially fulfil," Rasmussen said.

"I just worked really hard over the pre-season trying to improve my specific defensive side through some drills so that hopefully I could play that role for the team. So far I have been able to fit in and I've had a lot of help down there from experienced guys like Dan Hunt, Petters and Strijky. They all help to make it a lot easier than it actually is."

Rasmussen realises that trying to follow on from the outstanding career that Burns had with West Perth over the last decade will be tough, but he had the utmost respect for him as a teammate and is glad that coach Bill Monaghan has shown plenty of faith in him to trust him in that role.

"For now if I could have the opportunity to try and do something similar to what he did I would be stoked with that," he said.

"They are pretty big shoes to fill before I can compare to Burnsy, but I can try my best for the time being to fill that spot and then hopefully in years to come try and develop as a player, and possibly move up the ground and take on a few different roles as the team's needs change.

"Last year I was probably looking at playing more through the midfield so it wasn’t until the end of the season when I was getting specific roles in the back-line, but I did spend a lot of time around Burnsy just in the change rooms.

"He was always the most friendly guy around the club and always welcoming, so I spent some time around him in that sense but not specifically talking about that role or anything. It was more just as a friend and mentor really."

The one thing that all small defenders have to weigh up is getting the balance right between focusing on shutting their opponent down, and getting enough of the ball themselves to give some good run out of the back-line.

Rasmussen admits to focusing on stopping his opponent first, but he had both facets in good order in the Round 2 win over Subiaco picking up 18 possessions himself and keeping his opponent Alliston Pickett possession-less.

"I usually err on the side of just trying to beat my man initially and that's usually my goal in any game," he said.

"Then secondary to that if I can help the team in any way in attacking movements I will try the best I can, but I always go into the game with my primary focus to shut down who I'm playing on and then if I have the opportunity to attack or help out the team then that comes secondary to me."

As for the team, with first up wins over East Perth and Subiaco, the Falcons have made an outstanding start to the 2013 season backing up a strong off-season.

"It has been a great start. It's been good to know that everything we've been working at over the summer is paying off for us so it has been great to have a couple of wins to prove that our pre-season form wasn’t just some wins against some easier sides because we've now been able to match it against better teams," Rasmussen said.

"Beating East Perth by that much was not something that any of us expected. We expected it to be a tough game, but a few things fell right for us and in the second half we managed to take control a bit, and it was good to be able to run away with it in the end. That's something that we weren’t able to do too often last year.

"Everyone had touted Subiaco as being one of the fittest sides going around this season and they had done a lot of work with their new coach on their fitness, so it was good to be able to prove that what we've been doing is paying off, and Soles is getting his money's worth."

West Perth is now preparing to take on the winless South Fremantle on Friday night at Fremantle Oval, but Rasmussen is under no illusions that the Bulldogs will be another big test for the Falcons no matter how their season has started.

"The only night game I've played down there was in the pre-season but other than that I haven’t played a Friday night game there. I'm really looking forward to it and hopefully we can perform like we did there in the pre-season, and have another win," Rasmussen said.

"You can never take South Freo easy because they are one of those teams who can just turn it on at any time.

"We have struggled with them in the past and I know last season they got the better of us down at Freo Oval, so we are going to have to be on our game but hopefully if we can play similarly to how we did in the pre-season and learn from that experience hopefully we can get away with another win."

BY CHRIS PIKE

BILL'S GRILL – ROUND 3

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 4:41 PM

SOUTH Fremantle has a lot of young guys and three or four recruits coming into their side so they are an interesting team. At their best, they run really hard forward and create a lot of scoring opportunities so they are going to be a hard side to match up on this Friday night.

Obviously I didn’t see their game in Round 1 against Claremont, but from all reports they were very good in the first half and then I went and watched them on Saturday against Perth.

But really over the first month or six weeks of the competition you are just trying to get a gauge on where everyone's at. People have their opinions and the media predict who is going to be first through to ninth, but until it settles down after five or six rounds it's kind of up in the air.

We have our second straight Friday night game this week and there is probably a little on-going concern at the moment about the quality of the lights from a spectator point of view. But I've asked the players about the lights at both Leederville and Fremantle and they say the lights are fine, and there's nothing wrong with them.

I guess watching in the coaches box and from the crowd it can get difficult to see at times, but as long as it's good enough for the players to see then that's good enough by me. Whether the WAFL is happy with the quality of the lights or not as a spectacle that's for them to decide.

A couple of years ago we played South down there in two night games in a two or three-week period and it was the middle of winter. That was the strange thing. One of the nights was terrible and the ground was under water, and we were sharing it with sides who were playing in the Landmark Carnival. That posed a lot of different challenges to us, but this time of year you get a 26 or 28 degree day and with a 6.30 start it's a pretty pleasant place to be.

The challenge is that players have to still go to work on the Friday and get down there to play. If they are living and working in the Joondalup area, it's a fair trip down to Fremantle but they are just some of the issues that people have to deal with. I think the players generally like night games and I don’t see it as a big issue. At this time of year it's actually quite pleasant and as long as they steer clear of them in the middle of winter, then I'm OK with them. We don’t see it as being a problem this week going down there.

We continue to have a really healthy list at the moment as well and that presents a challenge for us in the sense that there are genuinely six or seven guys playing reserves footy who are really putting their hands up. Marc Crisp, Trent Manzone, Frank Stockley, Joe Morrow, James Embley, Drew Rohde, James Batterham and Kris Shannon are all playing well. We are comfortable with the side we've got, but having that depth and those players with that quality underneath means that players have to perform.

Chipper and Trent were really unlucky to be forced out of the side last week and we need to wait and see if Mellington and Hutchings' form is good enough to push them up into the AFL, and that opens up a couple of spots and suddenly with an injury or two those players can get their opportunities. We just need to be aware that we have to keep those guys in form and motivated, and that when they get their opportunities they are ready to go and fill their role in the side. That's all we ask of them and at this stage we've had two games and not a lot of spots in the side are opening up, but it's a long season and we just need all those guys to be playing good footy at the right time.

BY BILL MONAGHAN

BILL'S GRILL – ROUND 2

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 5:13 PM

Last Friday I thought we were very impressive early and the last 20 minutes we were very good again, but in between it was a real mixed bag.

I guess the endeavour was there and our ability to stick to what we wanted to do was there, but we failed to capitalise on our winning of the ball with our field kicking, and then obviously in front of goal as well. We kicked 1.8 between the second and third quarters, which was really disappointing because four or five of them were relatively easy shots. It wasn’t as if they were snaps from pockets and so on, some of them were relatively easy shots 20 metres straight out in front.

There were some real positives from the game still, but obviously some things that we need to work on because when we face the better sides, because we don’t know where Subi and East Perth will sit yet, we can't afford to let our chances go begging.

I think at the start to the season players can be a bit scratchy, but the other thing is that all the clubs are working hard on putting good pressure on, and their forwards are all working hard. There seems to be a lot more pressure on the ball carrier at the moment which means that there is a lot of times where there are just quick kicks forward trying to get some yardage.

It has been a focus on ours and it looks as though it might be the case from a couple of other sides. Most sides are also pushing their forwards right up the ground so you can come streaming through the centre and sometimes the players look up and have nothing to kick to. They might be trying to find targets that are a bit hard to hit because of that as well. There's a few things at play, but with the hot weather making the ball sweaty and good pressure are all factors.

We've got a lot of time for Laine Rasmussen who was great for us on Friday. He is an intelligent young man, he works hard and plays the game aggressively both offensively and defensively. There's a lot to like about him and we think that down the track he can develop into a real leader of our footy club. He is someone who understands the game and sets good examples both at training and during games.

He's done a great job for two weeks and what we need to keep remaining ourselves is that he's still just a young man and there will be ups and downs, but at the moment his application and attitude for the contest has been fantastic. He's been rewarded for that. He generally uses the ball well and we just need to keep giving him support and understand that there will be times when he's not going to be great, but we have to keep working hard on helping him keep on improving.

Friday was also a great learning evening for Matt Johnson. He obviously did a very good job the week before and Subiaco saw that, and decided to put Ben Randall on him who is a two-time premiership player and one of Subi's very best. Johnno struggled with that early and Randy did a really good job of closing him down and Johnno wasn’t attacking the ball as clean as the week before, but he improved in the second half and I thought he contributed well at times.

That's great for his learning to understand that if he can make it as a league footballer there will be sides who put a fair bit of planning into stopping him because he has all the attributes to kick goals. Yes he was quiet, but I thought his efforts to keep trying to create were fantastic. It's about sharing the load for us because we don't have a traditional forward-line with a gun key forward like Claremont or Swan Districts has in the past, and Souths had with Saunders. We are trying to spread the load and hopefully we can keep kicking a winning score each week.

We are obviously extremely happy with the way we've started. I think the attitude of all the players over the whole pre-season phase, then the practice matches was very good and they prepared themselves well. They now have got the rewards in the first two games, but we have a break now and can sit back and recharge the batteries a little bit. We also understand there are a lot of things we can do better and we have to keep working on our defensive pressure, and then try to hurt the opposition a little more going forward. It's been a great start, but one or two wins this time of the year doesn’t mean anything other than we have got off to a good start.

We have plenty of work to do and obviously if you are in good form sides take more notice and there are more expectations on you, but all we can do is control the things that we can control. We have just lightened off a bit this week in terms of our competitive type training, but we will ramp that up again early next week because going down to Fremantle Oval on a Friday night is going to be a tough gig regardless of how South goes this week.

The players get three days off. We will do a little bit more than normal this Thursday night and that will be mainly skills based with some running to get some extra kilometres into their legs, but they will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. We will get back to the club at the normal time on Monday night to do our usual session and then train as normal on Tuesday and Thursday leading into the game on Friday night.

It's three days off, but they will all get an individualised program as well where they are expected to do something on their own on Saturday whether that's a bike, swim or run depending on where they are at with their fitness and how saw they have been after the first two weeks.

BY BILL MONAGHAN