EAST Perth centre half-forward Adam Prior was the hero last Sunday after the siren with the winning goal against Claremont as he now prepares along with his Royals teammates to try and win at Fremantle Oval for the first time in almost a decade this Saturday.
Prior had kicked three goals against Claremont when the final siren sounded on Sunday at Medibank Stadium, but seconds before he took a strong contested mark in wet conditions and coolly went back to slot it through after full-time was up.
That gave him four goals for the afternoon after booting six two weeks before against Peel and the one-point win over Claremont at home on Sunday saw East Perth improve to a 7-2 record (with one draw), into second position on the ladder and still not having lost a game since Round 3.
With the wind and rain, Sunday was hardly a day for key forwards taking big marks but Prior took one at the most crucial time to end up kicking the winning goal and even though it was only just over 10 metres out, with that pressure it still wasn’t easy to put it through.
"That's probably the most important goal I've kicked. Just to take the mark like that and kick that and I know it sounds silly, but it's a dream come true type of thing to kick a goal to win the game after the siren," Prior said.
"I found it hard for the first three quarters anyway to take a grab and get into the game. I sort of came alive in the last quarter when we kept peppering inside-50 and I finally got myself on the end of a couple and double grabbed that one just before the siren.
"It was just on that little bit of an angle. I was only 10 metres out, but it wasn’t a certainty. I just set myself, went through my routine and made sure I kicked through it and lucky enough it went through."
Just six days before East Perth had come from 40 points down at half-time against West Perth to come away with the draw and then after being 15 points behind Claremont on Sunday at three quarter-time, the Royals of 2012 just don’t know how to lie down.
"It's especially good to come back like that against them. They were up all day, but we backed ourselves. We know that they are a quality side and the team to beat, so to come back and have a win like that gives us that belief if we come up against them in the finals," he said.
"We just have the belief inside the group now. We haven’t lost for a long time and the game last week against West Perth we were seven goals down at half-time and we all still had the belief.
"Now to come back and beat Claremont, we are backing ourselves to finish strong and win games, and we just keep having a crack."
Prior arrived at East Perth in 2010 after coming from Wodonga and had a strong first season as the Royals' leading goalkicker with 43 majors.
He had a tough year through injury in 2011, but is now back to playing a key role in a forward-line that is working extremely well alongside Josh Smith, Michael Swan, Mathew Seal, Brett Eades, Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls and even Paul Johnson or Tim Martin at times as the resting ruckman.
"I've been very consistent playing that centre half-forward role and hitting up with Smithy back deep. He has been kicking most of the goals, but to get on the end of a few every now and then is good," he said.
"It's great and a pretty diverse forward-line with a couple of keys but a lot of pace and smarts as well. We give opposition back-lines a few headaches I think."
East Perth having an outstanding first half of the season is something that hasn’t happened for some time, but Prior is enjoying it and has no doubt that a lot of that is down to the closeness of the entire group.
This Saturday, the Royals travel to Fremantle Oval to face South Fremantle. After beating the Bulldogs earlier this season for the first time since Round 23, 2004, they now look to win at the port for the first time since Round 18, 2003 on Saturday.
"I've been here three years and this is by far the best first half of the season we've had," Prior said.
"Usually we are battling, but now we are in a position to try and consolidate against South Freo next week where we have a bit of a hoodoo. It's another thing we have to overcome to beat them down there. We haven’t done it for a long time, but we will back ourselves in to do it.
"This year we are just so tight-knit and have been together for a while. We hang out together on weekends and we are so tight as a group, and great mates and that helps us on the field."