SUBIACO has appeared to be East Perth's great challenger for the 2014 season and now that will eventuate in the two meeting in next Sunday's WAFL grand final after the Lions beat an inaccurate East Fremantle by five points in Sunday's preliminary final.
The Lions and Sharks took to Medibank Stadium with a spot in the grand final at Patersons Stadium against East Perth at stake, and it was Subiaco who prevailed in the finish winning 10.13 (73) to 7.26 (68).
It was a devastating loss for an East Fremantle team who was celebrating milestones for Rob Young (150 games), Mark McGough (100) and Brett Peake (100) and trying to at least make a grand final in the last year of the career of Steven Dodd.
And the Sharks had more possessions, inside 50s and scoring shots than the Lions, but could only convert 33 of those shots to seven goals and that made them pay in the finish.
Subiaco came into the game without captain Kyal Horsley, full-forward Matt Boland and half-forward George Hampson, but had a host of players step up on the big occasion and now the Lions prepare for a grand final with the chance to beat East Perth for the third time this year.
In the absence of Boland and Hampson up forward who had combined for 87 goals this season, Shane Yarran delivered for the Lions with four goals including his team's only three of the second half.
Players had to make up for the absence of Horsley through the middle also and Chris Phelan picked up 27 possessions, Justin Joyce 20, Brett Mahoney 20 and Jason Bristow 19 despite the close attention of Cameron Eardley.
Lachlan Delahunty also did well for 20 possessions and seven marks combined between the wing, centre half-forward and a loose man in defence.
Kyle Halligan grabbed his late opportunity to come into the team with 18 possessions and two goals with Chris Deluca kicking two goals and putting in a brave effort to return after being taken off on a stretcher during the third quarter.
Subiaco's defence also stood firm led by four-time premiership veteran Darren Rumble while Daniel Leishman blanketed Brett Peake, and Wayde Twomey was best afield racking up 36 possessions on the back of 15 rebounds from the defensive 50.
Andrew McDougall was also the best big man on the ground finishing with 18 possessions, seven marks, eight hit outs, three clearances and two goals.
While a host of East Fremantle players proved costly with their inaccuracy, the Sharks did have some strong contributors throughout the game as well.
McGough was outstanding in the midfield in his 100th WAFL game with 27 possessions and eight clearances while Sandover Medal winner Rory O'Brien also finished with 27 disposals.
Jamie McNamara returned from a shoulder injury to pick up 24 possessions while Jayden Schofield did well with two goals from 22 touches.
Bradd Dalziell was one player who missed chance but had 27 disposals with Ryan Lester-Smith kicking two goals despite also adding a game-high four behinds.
East Fremantle kicked the last nine goals of its first semi-final last week and went on to kick the first goal of the preliminary final thanks to Schofield.
The Sharks then continued to dominate the rest of the opening quarter and managed nine scoring shots to five, but kicked eight behinds without adding another goal.
Young, Boston Williamson, Jack Perham, Dalziell and James Bristow all missed goals they should have kicked for the Sharks, but up the other end McDougall kicked truly from two set shots and then Halligan added another to give the Lions a six-point lead despite having limited opportunities in the first term.
East Fremantle continued to blow chance after chance in the second quarter and when Subiaco kicked two goals within a minute courtesy of Chris Deluca and Halligan the Lions led by 18 points and looked capable of putting the Sharks to the sword.
It took State defender Tom Howlett to drift forward and kick East Fremantle's second goal of the game at the 16-minute mark of the second quarter, but that was the Sharks' last of the half with Subiaco getting two more before half-time to Yarran and then Chris Deluca on the siren.
The margin was 20 points at the main break, but East Fremantle came out an inspired outfit to start the third quarter and two terrific goals to the out-of-form leading goalkicker from last year Lester-Smith suddenly had the Sharks within two points.
Some more missed chances on goal saw East Fremantle take its first lead since the opening minutes before a brave act from Chris Deluca in a collision with the equally brave Sam Read saw him come off on a stretcher, injured but set up Yarran for his second goal.
However, East Fremantle got the last goal of the third quarter through Boyle to head into three quarter-time with a two-point advantage.
It took 10 minutes for the first goal of the final quarter but it came courtesy of Yarran again for Subiaco as he booted his third of the day, and then he added a fourth just minutes later to give the Lions what proved to be a match-winning advantage.
East Fremantle did get a goal back through Schofield at the 18-minute mark, but that would prove the last major of the match as the Lions held on for the victory to win through to the grand final.
LEAGUE PRELIMINARY FINAL
SUBIACO 3.2 7.5 8.8 10.13 (73)
EAST FREMANTLE 1.8 2.15 6.22 7.26 (68)
SUBIACO – Goals: Yarran 4; Halligan, McDougall, C Deluca 2.
Best: Twomey, McDougall, Phelan, Leishman, Rumble, Yarran, Joyce, Delahunty, Halligan.
EAST FREMANTLE – Goals: Schofield, Lester-Smith 2; Boyle, Howlett, Young.
Best: McGough, R O'Brien, McNamara, Schofield, Howlett, B O'Brien.
West Perth's reserves were disappointed with their loss in the second semi-final to Subiaco and made an emphatic statement on Sunday with a 68-point thumping of Claremont at Medibank Stadium.
West Perth's 18.8 (116) to 7.6 (48) victory over Claremont in the preliminary final means that the Falcons will now take on Subiaco in the grand final with the aim of making up for last year's loss at Patersons Stadium to South Fremantle.
It was a big statement from West Perth as well given Claremont advanced to the preliminary final on the back of a thumping first semi-final victory over East Fremantle.
However, the Falcons dominated the contest from the outset with four goals to one in the first quarter to lead by 17 points at quarter-time.
It was a tighter contest in the second quarter with just three West Perth goals to two from Claremont with the Falcons leading by 23 points at the main break.
It was all West Perth after half-time, though, with the Falcons desperate to make a statement and not only qualify for a second grand final in as many years, but to do so in style and to send a message to Subiaco that the premiership is not automatically theirs despite a dominant 2014 season.
West Perth piled on seven goals to one in the third quarter to open up a match-winning 59-point lead at three quarter-time, and then with another four goals to three in the final term ended up winning by 68 points.
The Falcons made some changes from their second semi-final team with big man Seva Martin and Shayne Zanetti both out, but in their absence Brayden Antonio and Matt Fowler stepped up in the forward-line, and Shaun Marusic held down the ruck.
Marusic, a league premiership player from 2013, finished with 14 possessions, 13 hit outs and five clearances while Antonio booted five goals and Fowler four including one where he took a mark in the goal square and casually kicked it back over his head.
Trent Manzone was again outstanding for West Perth with 30 possessions, 10 clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal.
Kris Shannon also picked up 23 possessions while kicking two goals for the Falcons with Drew Rohde also booting two majors to go with 21 disposals.
Ben McNamara finished with 22 possessions as well, Jack Thrum 17 (seven tackles, five clearances) and James Embley 16.
Keifer Yu did all he could for Claremont with 35 possessions, 11 clearances, nine inside 50s and a goal.
Matt Goyder also picked up 26 possessions and Henry Roberts 17 while Jackson Starcevich kicked three goals from 11 touches and seven marks as Claremont's reserves couldn’t quite join its colts team in the grand final.
RESERVES PRELIMINARY FINAL
WEST PERTH 4.2 7.3 14.5 18.8 (116)
CLAREMONT 1.3 3.4 4.6 7.6 (48)
WEST PERTH – Goals: Antonio 5; Fowler 4; Shannon, Rohde 2; Manzone, Morrow, McPhee, Geraghty, Lynch.
Best: Manzone, Antonio, Rohde, Marusic, Thrum, Shannon, McNamara.
CLAREMONT – Goals: Starcevich 3; Yu, McAdam, Daniher, Lamont.
Best: Yu, Goyder, Starcevich, Cameron, Roberts, Richardson.
Claremont and South Fremantle played out a classic WAFL colts preliminary final on Sunday morning in a rematch of last year's grand final with the Tigers holding on to win a thriller by a point.
Claremont beat South Fremantle by six points in a thrilling WAFL colts grand final in 2013 and the two again met on Sunday in the preliminary final for the right to meet Swan Districts in next Sunday's grand final at Patersons Stadium.
South Fremantle finished the home and away season in third position but qualified for the preliminary final by beating East Perth in the first semi-final also at Medibank Stadium.
Claremont, meanwhile, lost another tight contest in the second semi-final against Swan Districts with the Tigers now having the chance to win back-to-back colts premierships while the Bulldogs missed the opportunity to qualify for a fourth consecutive grand final.
Little separated the two teams right throughout the game with the Tigers leading by six points at quarter-time on the back of a three-goal to two opening term.
Claremont then booted four goals to three in the second quarter with the Tigers opening up a 14-point advantage by half-time.
However, the Bulldogs closed that gap with three goals to one in the third quarter to be within four points of the Tigers at three quarter-time.
It was then a nail-biting finish despite two goals to open the final quarter by Claremont giving the Tigers a handy advantage after a crucial goal from a 50-metre penalty.
South Fremantle wasn’t done with yet, though, despite time running out.
South Fremantle got one goal back to get within eight points and then with less than a minute left on the clock, Kade Stewart kicked a goal from a set shot straight in front and the margin was one solitary point.
However, by the time the ball was bounced there was only time for South Fremantle to grab the ball from the middle and get a mark inside the forward 50.
That was the aim anyway but there was a centre square infringement paid against South Fremantle and then time expired and the siren sounded with Claremont recording the one-point victory to book in a grand final contest with Swan Districts next Sunday.
West Coast's likely father-son pick Alec Waterman led from the front for Claremont finishing with 24 possessions, nine clearances and a goal.
Jared Hardisty also finished with 24 touches, eight clearances and eight inside 50s for the Tigers while Nick Reid had 22 disposals and Ryan Lim 20.
Sam Bevan kicked three goals from 16 possessions and eight marks with Harrison Court also booting three majors for Claremont.
Ruckman Billy Frampton did all he could for South Fremantle finishing with 18 possessions, eight marks and 31 hit outs.
Jarrod Pickett, Stewart and Alex Robinson all kicked two goals each for South Fremantle with Pickett adding 23 possessions, seven inside-50 entries and five clearances, Stewart 18 possessions and Robinson 13 to go with seven inside 50s.
Bailey Matera also picked up 22 possessions for South Fremantle, Matthew Ah Siu 21 and Braden Fimmano 20.
COLTS PRELIMINARY FINAL
CLAREMONT 3.2 7.6 8.11 11.14 (80)
SOUTH FREMANTLE 2.2 5.4 8.7 11.13 (79)
CLAREMONT – Goals: Bevan, Trickey 3; Waterman, Prendiville, Gajewski, Jones, Watson.
Best: Waterman, Bevan, Hardisty, Reid, Lim, McCracken, Prendiville.
SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Robinson, Stewart, Pickett 2; Loersch, Florenca, Salmon, Ah Chee, Dragovich.
Best: Frampton, Pickett, Ah Siu, Matera, Garlett, Robinson, Stewart.