SUBIACO has shown its intentions to bounce back for a rare down year in 2020 by producing a commanding second half performance to beat East Perth at Leederville Oval on Good Friday.
The Leederville Oval co-tenants have made it an annual fixture to clash on Good Friday and after missing out on the occasion last year thanks to COVID-19, they resumed to open the WAFL season and the Royals took it right up to the Lions.
East Perth got off to the flying start kicking five of the first six goals of the game led by former Brisbane Lions hard nut Nick Robertson who had 12 disposals and a goal to his name already by quarter-time.
Subiaco’s skills in the opening quarter proved costly on multiple occasions with two turnovers by foot directly resulting in Royals goals, whereas East Perth were rewarded by taking on the game and executing high risk kicks through the corridor.
But skipper Leigh Kitchin led the Lions fight back, with his strong contested work and manic pressure helping his side trail by just one point at half-time with 16 disposals and a goal at the main break.
Tempers flared in the second quarter after a late bump on reigning Subiaco fairest and best winner Kyle Stainsby, which resulted in a down field free kick and a goal to Subiaco with a melee breaking out on the back of.
However, Stainsby got his revenge seconds later on former Lion Thomas Edward-Baldwin, whose game was over after having his head slammed into the ground from a dangerous tackle by his former teammate.
The Lions eagerness to move the ball forward at any cost proved successful booting the opening three goals of the second half and while it was the Royals who controlled the play for the remainder of the third term, they weren’t able capitalise kicking 1.4 for the quarter.
A four-goal final quarter saw the Lions finish the game winning by a comfortable 28 points after an early scare from their Leederville Oval co-tenants.
AJANG EXCITES IN THE RUCK
With former Fremantle ruckman Scott Jones going down with a corked hip in the first quarter, emerging ruckman Ajang Ajang was left to battle out the game on his own against Sandover Medallist Lachlan Delahunty and Subiaco's debutant ruckman and water polo convert Lewis Putt. His aerial abilities and deft tap-work were on full display and his follow-up efforts were just as impressive. He finished the game 34 hit outs, 19 disposals and a goal.
ROLE REVERSAL SUCCESSFUL FOR LIONS
It looked as though defenders Michael Braut and Aaron Heal had walked to the wrong end of the ground lining up in the forward line at the opening bounce, but they are in fact Subiaco’s newest key forwards. Heal kicked the opening goal of the 2021 season and early on looked like the Lions only chance of kicking a goal. Braut was able to muscle his was through defenders and looked lively, particularly after half time. Both players finished with three goals straight.
NEW RULES CREATE 'PING PONG FOOTY'
The new man on the mark and kick out rules looked to have had an immediate impact on the game with both teams moving the ball quickly and playing on from marks and free kicks as quickly as possible. This was particularly evident from the Royals early on with their run and gun style able to get behind the Lions defence, resulting in multiple quick transition goals from defence. This was also pointed out by Sandover Medallist, Lachlan Delahunty who described game is being extremely fast and calling it "ping pong footy".
EXTENDED QUARTERS SHOWING THEIR EFFECT
After 2020’s 16-minute plus time on quarters, 2021 has seen the game go back to 20 minutes plus time on and players were clearly still adapting to the longer periods of play with players from both teams cramping and looking visibly fatigued at the end of each quarter. This was particularly noticeable during the unusually long 36-minute second quarter.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 1
SUBIACO 3.3 8.3 11.9 15.14 (104)
EAST PERTH 5.1 8.4 9.8 11.10 (76)
SUBIACO: Goals – Sokol, Braut, Heal 3; Faraone 2; Kitchin, Hickmott, Borchet, Putt.
Best – Kitchin, Marsh, Clark, Delahunty, Sokol, Powell, Putt.
EAST PERTH: Goals – Young, Dobson, Magro 2; Ramsay, McKenzie, Ajang, Robertson, Jones.
Best – Robertson, Ramsay, Young, Willcocks, Scott, Ajang, Dobson.