ROUND 4 in the WAFL saw wins for South Fremantle, Claremont, Perth and West Perth with those four teams making up the top four and with Subiaco having the job ahead of them in their quest for a premiership hat-trick.
Now after four rounds of the 2020 Optus WAFL Premiership Season with some teams already having played four matches which means they've reached the halfway mark, there's a two-game gap between those in the top four and those outside.
With the reigning premiers of the past two years, minor premiers of the last five seasons and winners of four of the past six premierships Subiaco one of those teams with just one win and sitting outside the top four, it sets up a fascinating race to the finals for 2020.
South Fremantle remains undefeated after Round 4 while Perth joined them in remaining with an unblemished record but having played one more game.
West Perth and Claremont were then able to win to make it three wins from four games meaning the Bulldogs, Demons, Falcons and Tigers are in prime positions to be the teams reaching the finals for 2020 with five rounds to go.
Round 4 in the WAFL saw the only Perth Derby of the season take place at Joondalup's Provident Financial Oval, and it was West Perth proving too strong to defeat East Perth 12.9 (81) to 8.1 (49).
Then at New Choice Homes Park in a game with plenty of things making it a fascinating affair including East Fremantle captain Jonathon Griffin playing his 100th WAFL game, it was Perth who won a tight one over the Sharks 10.4 (64) to 8.10 (58).
Peel Thunder was on the hunt for their first win of the season in premiership hard nut Brayden Lawler's 100th appearance, and they did push Claremont, but ultimately the Tigers prevailed 8.10 (58) to 5.5 (35) at Revo Fitness Stadium.
The round then concluded at Leederville Oval in a Grand Final rematch from last year and it was South Fremantle who made the statement with 12 goals to three after half-time to beat Subiaco 15.7 (97) to 7.5 (47).
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 4
WEST PERTH 12.9 (81) defeated EAST PERTH 8.1 (49)
The only Perth Derby of 2020 saw both teams come into the game at Provident Financial Oval in fine form, and West Perth leave full of confidence after beating East Perth by 32 points.
The Falcons came into the game on their home turf having bounce back from their lone loss of the season with a 92-point win over Peel last Saturday while the Royals were also fresh off their first win of 2020 after they got over East Fremantle by 42 points.
It took only four minutes for West Perth to kick the first goal of the game courtesy of Michael Lourey who was fresh off a four-goal haul last eek against Peel in Mandurah. When Lourey added a second, the Falcons had the only two goals of the first term and had kept East Perth scoreless.
Lourey then added a third major to start the second quarter in a stunning start to the game before at the seven-minute mark, East Perth scored for the first time and it was ex-Falcon Aidan Lynch kicking truly.
Sebit Kuek then gave the Royals two goals in four minutes to be back in the contest before the Falcons steadied heading towards half-time to remain on top by 22 points at the main break including a fourth goal of the half to Lourey.
East Perth wouldn’t go away, though, and were starting to warm to the task and managed to kick three goals to two in the third term including the last two to Jayden Magro to be just 16 points down by three quarter-time.
However, a goal in less than a minute to start the final term from Keegan Knott steadied things for the Falcons and from there West Perth went on comfortably to record the 12.9 (81) to 8.1 (49) victory.
Michael Lourey kicked four goals for West Perth all coming in the opening half to go with his 10 kicks and seven marks for the day. Keegan Knott and Mitch Peirce both kicked two goals apiece as well.
Shane Nelson was again outstanding in the midfield for the Falcons amassing 34 possessions and laying six tackles while captain and partner-in-crime Aaron Black racked up 31 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and three inside-50 entries.
Trent Manzone also picked up 25 possessions for West Perth, Peirce 17, Tyler Keitel 16, Conal Lynch 15 and impressive second-gamer Matthew Lloyd 13.
Jayden Magro was East Perth's only multiple goal scorer for the game with his two goals both coming late in the third quarter.
Jackson Ramsay did all he could to lift the Royals with 29 possessions, 14 tackles and a goal while Angus Schumacher gathered 28 disposals, Angus Scott 26, Rohan Kerr 23 and Aidan Lynch 21.
EAST FREMANTLE 8.10 (58) lost to PERTH 10.4 (64)
Perth were made to work for in a spirited affair as expected but the Demons did manage to hold off East Fremantle on Saturday to remain undefeated so far this WAFL season.
With the natural tension between the two teams over the Cody Leggett clearance wrangle during the off-season which eventually saw the Perth star join East Fremantle, and then with what was at stake in the game, it proved a fascinating contest.
It was quite the exciting first quarter as well with both teams combining to kick 10 goals. From there, things significantly tightened up with only eight more kicked for the game but Perth did enough to stay undefeated and win 10.4 (64) to 8.10 (58).
It ended a remarkable run of outs at East Fremantle's home of New Choice Homes Park for the Demons as well. East Fremantle had won its last 14 home matches against Perth dating back to 2009.
Perth managed the opening two goals of the game fresh off the bye courtesy of Jacob Coniglio and Matthew Rogers before East Fremantle got one back through Anthony Montauban.
But it was a hot start from the Demons with Logan McDonald and Marshall Jones also kicking truly to put them up by 18 points just 10 minutes into the game with five goals on the board between the two sides.
East Fremantle responded with goals of their own to Ryan Lester-Smith and captain Jonathon Griffin in his 100th WAFL appearance, but Perth still managed to lead by 11 points at quarter-time with a late goal to Jones.
Goals then became decidedly tougher to come by the rest of the way with Perth's lead growing at the start of the second quarter to 17 points with a goal to Rogers.
The only other goal of the quarter came at the 20-minute mark to East Fremantle from Lachlan Bailey to make it a seven-point game at the long break.
East Fremantle opened the third term with a major to Tom Bennett to make it a one-point ball game.
The only other two goals of the quarter went Perth's way thanks to Kieran Delahunty and that saw the Demons lead by 14 points at the last change.
Perth's lead was back out to 20 points to start the final quarter with a second goal to teen sensation McDonald but the Sharks soon took over to dominate the rest of the game.
That brought about goals to Cam Eardley and Bennett but they could only manage four behinds over the final 10 minutes to end up falling six points short of the Demons.
Kieran Delahunty played his best game since joining Perth with three goals from eight kicks while Matthew Rogers, Marshall Jones and Logan McDonald kicked two each.
Chris Masten did compile a game-high 21 possessions for the Demons on the wing while captain in the absence of Corey Yeo Michael Sinclair was tremendous with 19 possessions, six tackles and five marks.
Matthew Taylor also finished with 18 disposals for Perth and Brant College 15.
Tom Bennett and Lachlan Bailey kicked two goals apiece for East Fremantle.
Jordan Snadden continued his strong start to the season for the Sharks with another 20 possessions with Cody Leggett picking up 18 touches in the first game against his former side.
Cam Eardley also had 18 touches for East Fremantle, Jarrad Jansen 17, Ryan Lester-Smith 15 and Milan Murdock 15 to go with another four tackles.
CLAREMONT 8.10 (58) defeated PEEL THUNDER 5.5 (35)
With Claremont looking to bounce back from its first loss of 2020 and Peel Thunder out for their first victory, it was a tight affair at Revo Fitness Stadium before the Tigers pulled away with a dominant final quarter.
Claremont went down last week in a tight affair to South Fremantle after opening the 2020 season with wins against Subiaco and Swan Districts while Peel is the great underdogs of this season but had shown some encouraging signs over their opening three matches.
Then on Saturday, Sandover Medallist and ex-Fremantle Dockers goal sneak Hayden Ballantyne kicked the first goal of the game after just two minutes.
Isaac Barton responded in kind for Claremont but Peel's strong start continued when Brayden Lawler kicked truly in his 100th WAFL game. When Lachlan Cullen did the same, the Thunder were up by 12 points and still by four at quarter-time after a Claremont goal to Jared Hardisty.
Ballantyne's second early in the second quarter had the Thunder back out to a nine-point advantage but by half-time Claremont narrowly found themselves in front by four points after goals to Callan England and Kane Mitchell.
Anton Hamp was able to stretch Claremont's lead to eight points when he kicked a goal early in the third but Peel wasn’t going away and it was just a three-point ball game still at three quarter-time after Brad Holmes kicked truly.
There would be no grandstand finish, though, with Claremont dominating the last quarter with the only three goals to end up winning 8.10 (58) to 5.5 (35).
Claremont captain Kane Mitchell kicked two goals from 23 possessions and 10 tackles while Callan England and Anton Hamp also booted two goals apiece for the Tigers.
Claremont's dual Sandover Medallist Jye Bolton was brilliant with 34 possessions while Jared Hardisty gathered 26 disposals for the Tigers, Ryan Lim 21, Jack Lewsey 18 and Declan Mountford 18.
Jeremy Goddard amassed another 38 hit outs in the ruck.
Hayden Ballantyne was Peel's only multiple goal scorer with two but he continues to struggle to find much of the ball on his WAFL return. He had just four kicks but did lay five tackles.
Jackson Merrett continued his fine form for the Thunder with another 22 possessions while Michael Randall had it 20 times, Matt Bogensperger 17, Zach Rankin 17, Blair Bell 16 and 101-gamer Ben Hancock 16 to go with seven marks.
Brayden Lawler finished with 13 possessions, nine tackles, four inside-50 entries and a goal in his 100th WAFL game.
SUBIACO 7.5 (47) lost to SOUTH FREMANTLE 15.7 (97)
South Fremantle made an emphatic statement kicking 12 goals to three after half-time to beat the reigning premiers of the past two years Subiaco by 50 points at Leederville Oval.
The Lions had won 14 of their last 16 meetings with the Bulldogs and started well again kicking the opening three goals of the contest. But from there South Fremantle took control to improve to a perfect 4-0 on the season while the Lions are still left two games outside the top four at 1-2.
The signs were ominous early with Subiaco looking like the team of old to start the contest with. It took the Lions only seven minutes to have three goals on the board with small forwards Rhys Waters and Bailey Matera doing the damage.
If the Bulldogs were shellshocked, they didn’t panic and were able to stem the tide and then get a goal back through Nick Suban before quarter-time to be back within nine points at the first change.
Subiaco big man Andrew Doyle grabbed a chance to put Subiaco back on top by 15 points early in the second term when he kicked the first goal of his league career.
But again the Bulldogs steadied and this time managed two more goals to close the quarter thanks to Brandon Donaldson and Steve Verrier to be within four points of Subiaco by half-time.
The Bulldogs then pulled in front to open the second half when Haiden Schloithe kicked a goal. Verrier then added his second when he finished impressively by taking advantage.
Subiaco did get one back through reigning Bernie Naylor Medallist Ben Sokol, but South Fremantle was starting to grow in belief and when both Schloithe and captain Dylan Main kicked goals after 50m penalties, the Bulldogs were on top by 19 points at three quarter-time.
It was then party time in the fourth term for South Fremantle starting with Main kicking his second and third goals inside the opening three minutes. The Bulldogs went on to kick seven goals to two for the quarter and ran out 15.7 (97) to 7.5 (47) winners.
Sandover Medallist and dual fairest and best winner Haiden Schloithe was a cut above most on the field to lead the way for South Fremantle splitting his time between the midfield and forward-line. He finished with 24 possessions, six inside-50 entries and two goals.
Without Jacob Dragovich alongside him in the midfield, Jake Florenca continued his fine season with another 26 possessions while Kade Stewart also had 21 disposals to go with seven tackles and a goal.
Zac Strom had a big ball-winning first half on the wing and then when Brock Higgins went off injured, he went into the ruck and was equally effective to end the game with 21 possessions, 17 hit outs and four marks.
Captain Dylan Main also kicked three goals for South Fremantle as did vice-captain Mason Shaw all coming in the fourth quarter. Brandon Donaldson and Steve Verrier also kicked two goals each.
Noah Strom did a tremendous job defensively job holding Simpson Medallist Ben Sokol to just the one goal for Subiaco.
Former Bulldog Bailey Matera kicked two of the game's first three goals for Subiaco and finished the match with 12 possessions, three tackles and three inside-50 entries.
Sandover Medallist Lachlan Delahunty tried hard in the ruck for 19 possessions and 17 hit outs with Ben Newton collecting 17 disposals, Leigh Kitchin 16 (nine tackles), Drew Rohde 16, Angus Litherland 14 and Greg Clark 14 (12 tackles).