THE race for top-four positions in the WAFL heated up after NAIDOC Round of the 2012 season over the weekend with Claremont and East Fremantle closing in on top spot, and West Perth and Subiaco maintaining touch with the four as well.
The round began on Saturday afternoon with West Perth upsetting Swan Districts at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval 11.13 (79) to 9.17 (71). At the same time, Subiaco won the battle of the Medibank Stadium co-tenants over East Perth 12.16 (88) to 7.9 (51).
Those results saw West Perth and Subiaco ensure they still have some hope of playing finals football in 2012 while Claremont and East Fremantle took over second and third spots ahead of East Perth on Sunday.
Claremont beat South Fremantle 17.17 (119) to 10.4 (64) at Claremont Oval and East Fremantle got the better of Perth 15.16 (106) to 13.9 (87) at East Fremantle Oval. Peel Thunder had the bye.
Click here for the summary of Round 15 of the WAFL
THE BIG WINNERS
West Perth and Subiaco needed to beat the top-two teams in the competition in Round 15 action just to keep their finals hopes alive, and both managed to do so.
West Perth took on the league-leading Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval, and had the better of the contest for much of the day to end up eight-point winners. The victory improved the Falcons to a 6-6 record with a draw to now sit two games behind fourth-placed East Perth.
Subiaco took on Medibank Stadium co-tenants East Perth and virtually were never headed after quarter-time to end up 37-point victors. It improves the Lions to a 6-7 record on the season to be two and-a-half games behind the Royals with seven games remaining.
THE BIG LOSERS
Just two weeks ago East Perth was contending with Swan Districts for top spot on the WAFL ladder, but two losses later and the Royals have slipped down to fourth position.
After losing two tight games to start the season to Claremont and West Perth, East Perth went on a stunning seven-game winning run before a thrilling WA Day draw with West Perth.
The Royals bounced back with an after the siren win over Claremont, but have since lost to Swan Districts and Subiaco to now fall to an 8-4 record with a draw ahead of this Saturday's game with Peel Thunder at Medibank Stadium.
THE SHINING LIGHTS
West Perth upset league-leaders Swan Districts on Saturday in a strong team performance. Andrew Strijk was outstanding with 20 possessions and three goals with Shane Nelson (pictured) returning to the line-up to have 31 disposals and Mark Hutchings had 30.
Ray Bartholomew also gathered 26 possessions, Aaron Black 22, Luke Tedesco 22, Kepler Bradley 21 (10 marks, seven hit outs, one goal), Matt Guadagnin 20 (two goals) and Steven Browne 19. Chris Keunen had 30 hit outs despite coming into the game under an injury cloud.
Ashley Hansen kicked five goals for Swan Districts with Shaun Hildebrandt picking up 25 possessions, Justin Simpson 24, Ryan Davis 23, Kyle Hams 21, Tom Roach 21, Tony Notte 18 and Graham Jetta 18. Tim Geappen had 17 possessions, eight marks and five inside 50s in his 100th WAFL game.
Subiaco kicked nine goals to three after quarter-time, and three of the four only in the second half to beat East Perth by 37 points on Saturday.
Rob Forrest (pictured) continued his outstanding form with 31 possessions and 12 marks for the Lions with captain Aidan Parker doing well in his ruck battle with Paul Johnson with 26 possessions, 12 marks and 14 hit outs. Clancy Wheeler helped him out with 18 touches and a goal.
Des Headland and George Hampson kicked three goals each for Subiaco with Brant Chambers adding two. Rowen McDonnell also had 25 possessions, Scott Worthington 22, Reece Blechynden 21 and Kane Bloxsidge 20. Antoni Grover, Jack Anthony and Darren Rumble were rock solid in defence.
Mat Seal kicked three goals for East Perth with Craig Wulff gathering 26 possessions, Freddie Clutterbuck 25, Aaron Sweet 25, Steven Payne 20 and Garry Moss 19.
Ryan Maldenis did well restricting Jason Bristow to just 18 possessions while Luke Sampey kept Blake Broadhurst goalless.
Claremont proved too good for South Fremantle on Sunday winning by 55 points with Tom Lee, Kane Mitchell (pictured) and Jack Bradshaw booting three goals apiece, and Jeremy McGovern and Chad Jones two. Mitchell also racked up a game-high 33 possessions to go with his hat-trick of majors.
Luke Blackwell also had 31 possessions for the Tigers, Jarryd Morton 26, Tom Swift 25, Ryan Neates 19, Trinity Handley 18 and debutant Tom Taylor 18.
Four players came back into the Claremont team and all had a big impact as well with Rory Walton gathering 22 disposals, Andrew Ruck 14 to go with 42 hit outs, David Crawford 16 in defence and Clay McLernon nine in his 100th game of WAFL football.
Ben Saunders kicked four goals for South Fremantle against his former side with Paul Mugambwa adding two.
Ryan Cook gathered 28 possessions for the Bulldogs and drove the ball inside-50 on eight occasions with Shaun Bewick picking up 27 touches, Kris Miller 23, Matthew Olivieri 21, Paul Duffield 19 and Jordan Wilson-King 19.
East Fremantle beat Perth in a tight affair by 19 points on Sunday at East Fremantle Oval with Jack Perham, Adam Waight, Cameron Sutcliffe (pictured), Brad Dick and Max Duffy all kicking two goals each. Sutcliffe was particularly outstanding with 34 possessions for the day.
Mark McGough also gathered 29 possessions, Sean Henson 29, Koby Stevens 28, Steven Dodd 23, Richard Hadley 20, Tom Howlett 20 and Rob Young 16 to go with 23 hit outs.
Matt Moody kicked three goals for Perth as did Brennan Stack with Simon Donovan and Sam Butler adding two each. Butler also picked up 32 possessions and took 11 marks for the Demons.
Ross Young raked in 32 disposals, Leon Davis 29, Aaron Elari 26, Joel Leeson 24, Matt Tedesco 23, Ben Noakes 22, Ashley Smith 20 and Brett Hodge 20. Llane Spaanderman had 18 touches and 18 hit outs in the ruck.
PUSHING FOR A SPOT
Subiaco's reserves beat East Perth by 47 points on Saturday with Alliston 'Buddy' Pickett brilliant with eight goals from 16 possessions and five marks. Ryan Wade also booted three with Michael Genovese picking up 27 possessions, Tim Whyte 26 and Simon Moore 24.
Jacob Derickx and Agid Gardoud kicked two goals each for East Perth with Ashley Boyes picking up 25 possessions, Rowan Brookes 20 and Joe Boys 20.
Swan Districts reserves beat West Perth by just five points with Leigh Kohlmann kicking two goals and Aidan Smith picking up 27 possessions, Ray Daniels 33 and Nathan Broad 23.
Matt Fowler kicked three goals for West Perth with Joel Latham picking up 21 possessions and Josh Donaldson 16 to go with 18 hit outs.
Claremont's reserves thumped South Fremantle by 118 points with Alistair Gillespie kicking four goals, Anton Hamp three, and Brent Luckman, Matthew Goyder, Sam Fong, Jack Richardson and Brad Nisbett all two each. Matthew Davies had 28 possessions, Tom Willett 25 and Fong 24.
Adam Guglielmana picked up 31 possessions for South Fremantle with Alex Grima gathering 27, James Laurino 21 and Jason Maskos 21.
Perth's reserves beat East Fremantle by 37 points on Sunday with Joel Houghton kicking three goals, and Michael Florio and Michael Edwards two each. Florio also had 32 disposals, Daniel O'Sullivan 26 and Gavin Roberts 24.
Leith Teakle had 20 possessions and kicked two goals for East Fremantle with Corey Yeo racking up 35 touches, Lewis Fasolo 26 and Callum Leslie 23.