WEST Perth and Claremont asserted their dominance on the WAFL competition again with big Round 8 wins on Saturday while Swan Districts and East Fremantle continued to gather momentum with victories also.
All games were on Saturday afternoon and at Arena Joondalup West Perth had a big win over South Fremantle, running out 21.10 (136) to 9.9 (63) victors.
The other action saw Claremont prove too good with Perth winning 23.14 (152) to 10.9 (69) at Lathlain's Brownes Stadium, Swan Districts beat East Perth 15.14 (104) to 12.12 (84) at Leederville's Medibank Stadium and East Fremantle downed Peel 16.22 (118) to 14.7 (91) at East Fremantle Oval.
The results leave West Perth atop the ladder with a 7-0 record with Claremont just behind on 6-1. South Fremantle (5-2) is third ahead of Swan Districts and East Fremantle (both 3-4). Perth (3-3) is next followed by Subiaco (2-4), East Perth (1-6) and Peel Thunder (0-6).
THE BIG WINNERS
West Perth coach Bill Monaghan has managed to transform a good team from recent seasons into a well-oiled machine in 2011 and he deserves much of the credit.
He identified midfield depth as a problem since the 2003 premiership with West Perth making finals three times but never being a premiership threat.
Recruiting Mark Hutchings, Shane Tregear and Steven Browne has added three quality midfielders to Ray Bartholomew, Matt Guadagnin, Jason Salecic, Joel Rice and Josh Pearce, and they are all getting terrific service from ruckman Chris Keunen.
The forward-line has looked dangerous led by Shayne Zanetti, Anthony Tsalikis, Anton Saylor, Josh Mellington and Andrew Strijk. Jeff Gobbels (pictured) is also having a good start to the season and booted six goals to go with 23 possessions and 11 marks in Saturday's win over South Fremantle.
That dangerous forward-line has allowed Brent LeCras to move to centre half-back where he has been near best on ground in all seven games this season. With Dan Hunt, Dustin Burns, Dion Fleay, Luke Tedesco and Caleb Shadbolt around him, the back-line is outstanding.
With few injuries and in-form players, the Falcons are a genuine chance at a premiership tilt.
THE BIG LOSERS
It's hardly their fault because injuries have led to the problem, but South Fremantle's terrific start to 2011 could be tough to maintain now due to the loss of key players.
Even though Scott Thornton and Sam Hunt retired just prior to the start of the season, the Bulldogs were terrific winning five of their first six matches and the only loss was by just a point to Perth.
However, Saturday's 73-point loss to West Perth just showed how much of an impact the loss of key players can have.
Captain Jaymie Graham had his season cruelly ended last week with a horrific knee injury in South Fremantle's win over Subiaco. The ruck is the one area the Bulldogs can't cover and full-forward Ryan Murphy was going to have a go at filling the void, but he now is also out with a broken foot.
That's going to leave a massive job for Scott Delmenico and Paul Mugambwa for the rest of the season unless James Klause, Leigh Kelly or Chris Erriccson find sufficient form and/or fitness in the reserves to be given a league opportunity.
The positive is that South Fremantle is still sitting on a strong 5-2 start, but without Graham and Murphy now, it's going to be tough to hold firm after the bye this week up against Claremont, Peel and East Fremantle.
THE SHINING LIGHTS
Chad Jones (pictured) was outstanding in just his second game of the season for Claremont after his hamstring injury that ended his 2010 prematurely late last year. He kicked eight goals with Alroy Gilligan also coming back into the side and booting three.
David Crawford was outstanding with 29 disposals, Kane Mitchell had 29, Luke Blackwell 28, Tom Swift 28, Ryan Brabazon 27, Jake Murphy 27, Simon Starling 27, Clancy Rudeforth 23 and Lewis Stevenson 22. Byron Schammer also picked up 21 touches and kicked two goals.
It was a tough day for Perth, but Ross Young worked hard as usual to finish with 30 possessions. He had good support from Steven Armstrong (28 disposals), Jarrod Kayler-Thomson (27), Andrew McDougall (25, 28 hit outs), Scott Siekierka (22) and Michael Florio (20).
Former West Perth running defender Matt Tedesco made his Perth debut and was good with 22 touches while Matt Moody did what he could up forward booting five goals.
West Perth's 73-point win over South Fremantle was highlighted by six goals, 23 possessions and 11 marks from Jeff Gobbels.
Ray Bartholomew also picked up 30 disposals, Matt Guadagnin 26, Brent LeCras 25, Aaron Black 21, Luke Tedesco 21 and Steven Browne 20. Shane Tregear, Andrew Strijk, Josh Mellington and Black all kicked two goals apiece as well.
Andrew Gaff was terrific for South Fremantle in his first game in the WAFL. He picked up 34 possessions with Kris Miller also having it 33 times, Ryan Cook 26, Adam Guglielmana 24 and Hayden North 24. Callum Wilson and Cory Dell'Olio booted three goals apiece.
Swan Districts recorded its third straight win of the season and full-forward Ash Hansen (pictured) finally had his kicking boots on after 10.11 over the season so far to kick eight goals to lead the way for the black-and-whites.
Tom Roach continued his outstanding season to date with 31 possessions, Josh Roberts had 26, Luke Miles 21, Matt Riggio 21 and Stephen Coniglio 20.
It was East Perth's sixth straight loss of the season up against Swans despite the Royals having some good moments throughout the day, including kicking the first three goals of the game and regaining the lead in the third quarter.
Josh Smith kicked five goals while Brendan Lee picked up 33 possessions, Pat Travers 27, Craig Wulff 27, Aaron Sweet 24, Freddie Clutterbuck 19 and Michael Swan 19. Graham Polak worked tirelessly in the ruck with 14 touches and 17 hit outs while Nathan Blee restricted Tim Geappen to three goals.
East Fremantle beat Peel by just 27 points despite 17 more scoring shots, 101 more disposals and 18 more entries inside-50.
Leith Teakle kicked three goals while Bradd Dalziell picked up 36 possessions even though he kicked five behinds. Chris Masten collected 34 disposals, Lewis Fasolo 30, Tim Houlihan 28, Kym Monteath 23, Koby Stevens 23 (and two goals) and Andrew Stephen 21.
Captain Brendon Jones was outstanding for Peel with 29 possessions and two goals. Young midfielder Kieran Butcher was also terrific with 27 touches and a goal. Viv Michie picked up 21 disposals, Jesse Crichton 17 and Jordan Jones 17.
PUSHING FOR A SPOT
West Perth's reserves beat South Fremantle by 23 points with Alex Elisseou kicking four goals and Shaun Bewick picked up 36 possessions, Jay Tindall 21, Tim Guatta 20, Mitch Brown 18, Corey Hutchings 18 and Frank Stockley 18.
Leigh Kelly and Jayden Woods kicked two goals each for South Fremantle while Dylan Bairstow had 22 disposals, Morgan Cooper 21, Jesse Maiorana 21 and Dylan Ross 18.
Swan Districts reserves ran over the top of East Perth to win by 28 points with Jace Cormack kicking six goals and Clayton Hinkley picking up 18 touches, Roderick Manton 18, Alex James 17 and Chris Andrews 16. David Johnston did well in the ruck with 13 touches and 20 hit outs.
Cameron Grover (pictured) was terrific for East Perth picking up 30 possessions. Daniel Macaulay also had it 29 times, Boston Williamson 25 and Rowan Brookes 20.
East Fremantle's reserves had a strong 63-point win over Peel with Tim Viney outstanding with 26 possessions, 12 inside-50s and a goal. Mitch Boyle also had 25 touches, Tom Hooker 25 and Corey Yeo 25. Justin Monaco and Tom Howlett kicked three goals each.
Joel Catalano kicked two goals for Peel while Hayden McLeod and Bryce Thornton picked up 21 possessions apiece.
Claremont's reserves won over Perth by 12 points with Jeremy McGovern kicking three goals and Tom Ayton collecting 18 possessions, James Thomson 18, Ian Rowe 17 and Brad Nisbett 17.
Brad Fry kicked seven goals for Perth and Simon Horner four while Michael Mather racked up 31 possessions, Michael Edwards 23 and Jason Brennan 22.