IT was a brilliant opening to the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season across the Easter Weekend with Good Friday wins for East Fremantle and Subiaco, and Saturday victories for Perth, South Fremantle and Claremont.
The 2021 WAFL season got underway with the two Good Friday matches which have now become annual affairs between the competing clubs.
East Fremantle got its 2021 campaign off to an encouraging start with the 15.16 (106) to 11.8 (74) victory against Peel Thunder at Mandurah's David Grays Arena.
Almost 3000 people then turned out to Leederville Oval for the battle of the co-tenants which saw Subiaco defeat East Perth 15.14 (104) to 11.10 (76).
The other three Round 1 match ups took place on Saturday with Perth defeating the West Coast Eagles 16.12 (108) to 15.5 (95) at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park.
South Fremantle started its premiership defence by overcoming West Perth 16.10 (106) to 13.7 (85) at Fremantle Community Bank Oval while Claremont also defeated Swan Districts 20.13 (133) to 18.1 (109) at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval.
Meanwhile, in Round of the reserves season, East Fremantle defeated Peel Thunder 9.20 (74) to 6.7 (43), East Perth beat Subiaco 12.5 (77) to 11.6 (72), West Perth downed South Fremantle 11.10 (76) to 7.8 (50) and Swan Districts prevailed 11.12 (78) to 7.8 (50) against Claremont.
And then in the colts, East Fremantle defeated Peel Thunder 13.13 (91) to 13.3 (81), East Perth beat Subiaco 20.13 (133) to 6.4 (40), South Fremantle defeated West Perth 15.11 (101) to 13.9 (87) and Swan Districts won a thriller 10.9 (69) to 9.10 (64) against Claremont.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 1
PEEL THUNDER 11.8 (74) lost to EAST FREMANTLE 15.16 (106)
East Fremantle took advantage of the breeze in Mandurah on Good Friday in the first and third quarters to set up an impressive 32-point Round 1 win against Peel Thunder.
The Sharks shot out of the blocks quickly to open the new season with six goals to one in the opening quarter. They added another six goals to two in the second term and that was enough to set up the eventual 15.16 (106) to 11.8 (74) victory.
Dillon O'Reilly marked his return to East Fremantle in style kicking three goals while Nick Kommer kicked two, Jonathon Marsh two and Tom Monaghan two.
Josh Schoenfeld is back at the Sharks from time in the AFL and delivered a best on ground performance made up of 41 possessions, nine marks, four tackles and three inside 50s.
Milan Murdock also gathered 32 disposals for East Fremantle, Corey Chalmers 26, Blaine Boekhorst 26, Luke English 26, Tom Bennett 22, Cody Leggett 21 and Marsh 21 while Luke Strnadica had 16 touches, five marks, 43 hit outs and a goal in the ruck.
Sam Sturt put up his hand with Peel for an AFL call up at the Fremantle Dockers by kicking five goals albeit from just the six kicks.
Midfielder Michael Randall also kicked two goals for Peel to go with 22 possessions and six inside-50 entries.
Jarvis Pina also collected 22 disposals for the Thunder, Jackson Merrett 19, Connor Blakely 19, Tyrone Thorne 18 and Ben Howlett 16 to go with seven tackles.
In just the opening six minutes of the game, Jonathon Marsh and Sam Sturt kicked two goals apiece for either team before the Sharks ended the opening term with four of the last five goals to be up by 20 points at quarter-time.
Sturt added his third and fourth goals during the second quarter for Peel and the Thunder would go on to even take the lead after the fourth of those before the Sharks went into half-time up by just the two points.
Another six goals to two saw East Fremantle kick away further in the third quarter to set up the match-winning advantage before the Sharks cruised to the important 32-point Round 1 victory.
SUBIACO 15.14 (104) defeated EAST PERTH 11.10 (76)
Neither Subiaco nor East Perth played finals in 2020 so they were desperate for a winning start to their 2021 in the battle of the Leederville Oval co-tenants on Good Friday.
East Perth started strongly but Subiaco ended up wearing them down and kicked seven goals to through in the second half to record the 15.14 (104) to 11.10 (76) victory as they attempt to get back to being the powerhouse they had been up until 18 months ago.
Ben Sokol was back to his dangerous best in attack for Subiaco as well kicking three goals from 17 possessions and seven marks while Michael Braut and Aaron Heal were surprise fellow forward targets, and booted three goals apiece too.
Jordan Faraone also kicked two goals for the Lions.
Captain Leigh Kitchin racked up 29 possessions for Subiaco with Harry Marsh racking up 28 disposals, Greg Clark 25, Lachlan Delahunty 23, Kyle Stainsby 21 and Rowell Powell 17. Debutant ruckman Lewis Putt was impressive too with 14 disposals, 26 hit outs and a goal.
Nick Robertson played a terrific game for East Perth with 30 possessions while Jackson Ramsay gathered 29 touches, Kye Willcocks 29, Angus Scott 28, Aidan Lynch 25, Nathan Blee 22, Rohan Kerr 22, Young 21, Jaxon Cahill 21, Shayne Hille 20, Nathan Eaton 20, Christian Ameduri 19 and Dobson 19.
Ajang Ajang also had 19 possessions, five marks, 34 hit outs and a goal in the ruck.
Matthew Young, Mitch Dobson and Jayden Magro kicked two goals apiece for East Perth.
It was a fascinating opening quarter Subiaco managing the first goal of the game through Ryan Borchet before East Perth answered with the next five majors. The Lions, though, closed the term with the last two goals including a second to Aaron Heal to be within 10 points.
The Lions then took the lead with three more goals in 10 minutes to open the second quarter thanks to Michael Braut, Ben Sokol and Borchet.
But the Royals again responded with goals to Jayden Magro, Ajang Ajang and Mitch Dobson to take a one-point lead into half-time.
Subiaco took over in the second half starting by kicking three goals to one in the third quarter, and another four to two in the fourth to end up winning by 28 points to get the new season off to a winning note.
PERTH 16.12 (108) defeated WEST COAST EAGLES 15.5 (95)
Perth and the West Coast Eagles put on quite the show combining for 31 goals at Mineral Resources Park in Round 1 of the WAFL season on Saturday, but the Demons finished the stronger to win by 13 points.
The two teams set the tone for the afternoon with a 12-goal opening quarter and both sides were able to have periods of being in control.
Perth threatened to run away with it leading by 24 points midway through the third quarter. But West Coast turned the tide and when Isiah Winder kicked his fifth goal early in the last term, the Eagles led by 10 points.
But the Demons responded to kick the next five goals of the game and that ultimately was enough to secure the eventual 16.12 (108) to 15.5 (95) victory.
Conor McPartland kicked three goals from six kicks for Perth while Doulton Langlands, Marshall Jones and Fraser McInnes all added two.
Chris Masten had a rough end to 2020 through injury but started last season on fire for Perth and picked that back up on Saturday with 29 possessions and seven inside-50 entries.
Brady Grey also collected 27 disposals for the Demons, Josh Smith 23, Matthew Taylor 23, Brent Edmonds 23, Regan Clarke 21, Austin Davis 21, Jacob Coniglio 21 and Langlands 20.
Isiah Winder kicked the five goals for West Coast with Nathan Vardy booting four to go with 15 possessions and 35 hit outs. Jake Waterman and Cooper Nitschke also kicked two apiece.
Xavier O'Neill was impressive for West Coast with 31 possessions while Zane Trew gathered 24 disposals, Luke Foley 24, Brayden Ainsworth 24, Hamish Brayshaw 24, Alex Witherden 21 and former Demon Lennon Marlin 21.
Perth got off to a flying start with the opening three goals of the game through Fraser McInnes, Conor McPartland and Corey Byrne before a couple of goals for the Eagles to Kieran Hug and Ethan Hansen.
The remarkable first quarter then saw Doulton Langlands put Perth back up by 12 points but the Eagles closed the opening term with goals to Nathan Vardy, Jake Waterman, Vardy again and Cooper Nitschke as they held a 10-point lead by quarter-time.
The hot action didn’t quite continue in the second quarter with just three goals scored and they all went the way of the Demons as they took a 12-point edge into the half-time break.
McPartland opened the second half with a goal to put Perth back up by 18 points and then Regan Clarke made it a 24-point margin, but the Eagles weren’t going away. They closed the third term with goals to Isiah Winder (three) and Vardy (two) as they were just a point down by three quarter-time.
West Coast then took the lead to start the final term thanks to Jake Waterman before Winder's fifth goal put them 10 points in front at the five-minute mark.
But Perth responded with a couple of quick goals to Jye Clark and Langlands before Josh Smith and Michael Sinclair closed the door on eventual 13-point victory as they look to build on last year's finals appearance.
SOUTH FREMANTLE 16.10 (106) defeated WEST PERTH 13.7 (85)
South Fremantle was made to earn it and they would have expected nothing else against West Perth at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday, but the Bulldogs finished strongly for a winning start to their premiership defence.
West Perth threatened to pull away when leading by 14 points midway through the third quarter, but from that point on South Fremantle kicked eight of the next nine goals to set up the eventual 16.10 (106) to 11.7 (73) victory.
He is already a South Fremantle premiership player, but Saturday was just his third game for the Bulldogs and Cody Ninyette was an excitement machine in attack to kick five goals from 15 possessions.
Reigning Bernie Naylor Medallist Mason Shaw kicked four goals as well for the Bulldogs from 12 disposals and eight marks.
Haiden Schloithe was brilliant kicking two goals to go with 30 possessions, seven tackles and six inside-50 entries while Brandon Donaldson also kicked two goals from 25 disposals.
Matthew Parker marked his return to South Fremantle by playing most of the game on the wing and racking up 26 possessions to go with 11 inside 50s and five tackles.
Jacob Dragovich also picked up 22 disposals for the Bulldogs, Dylan Main 18 and Jimmy Miller 17 to go with six marks. Brock Higgins stood tall again in the ruck with 15 touches and 48 hit outs.
There was some impressive efforts down back for South Fremantle too with Noah Strom having another fascinating battle with Tyler Keitel while debutant Blake Schlensog was outstanding at centre half-back with 12 disposals and five marks. Chad Pearson had 17 possessions too.
Keegan Knott and Tyler Keitel as the tall target and the lively small forward have been the cornerstone of West Perth's forward-line the last couple of years, and they started well again on Saturday kicking four goals apiece.
Captain Aaron Black racked up another 36 possessions in his 203rd appearance with West Perth while Trent Manzone was prolific once again with 35 disposals and 13 marks. Shane Nelson started off in great form again too with 34 disposals and eight tackles.
Blake Wilhelm had a big game off half-back with 30 possessions and 10 marks while Connor West also had 20 touches for the Falcons, Zac Guadagnin 18, Noah Pegoraro 18 and Tristan Hobley 17.
West Perth got the game's opening goal but Cody Ninyette got the immediate response for South Fremantle showing his cleverness at ground level and to finish impressively.
Caleb Datson then marked on the lead and went back to drill it as another answering goal from South Fremantle, and things continued to go goal for goal with Ninyette's second of the opening term for the Bulldogs cutting the Falcons lead back to a point at quarter-time.
It took more than 10 minutes of the second quarter for the first goal and that went West Perth's way through Tyler Keitel, but South Fremantle got the quick response through the clever Brandon Donaldson.
Haiden Schloithe then showed his class by swooping on a loose ball and goaling on the road. The Bulldogs then went up by 10 points with Donaldson kicking truly again before West Perth closed the gap to four points at half-time with Keitel's third of the half.
The game really opened up in the third quarter and it took just four minutes for West Perth to put three goals on the board and lead by 14 points. Mason Shaw and Rudy Riddoch then exchanged goals with the Falcons retaining the 14-point edge.
But then the Bulldogs got rolling firstly with a third to Ninyette and then a first to Jimmy Miller. Shaw added his second before Ninyette kicked a fourth just before three quarter-time to put South Fremantle on top by four points at the last change.
The game was right up for grabs at three quarter-time but South Fremantle soon put it out of reach with four goals in the opening 10 minutes of the last term. Ninyette booted a fifth, Schloithe his second and Shaw his third and fourth as the Bulldogs led by 29, and would go on to win by 21.
SWAN DISTRICTS 18.1 (109) lost to CLAREMONT 20.13 (133)
Swan Districts started on fire and delivered a remarkably accurate performance at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday, but in the end Claremont was too strong to run out 24-point victors.
It has been an eventful off-season at Tigerland after reaching the Grand Final last year, but with some changes to their coach, captaincy and some of the playing group, the signs were good on Saturday with the eventual 20.13 (133) to 18.1 (109) victory against Swan Districts.
Finding new avenues to goal might be Claremont's most significant challenge this season but it wasn’t a concern on Saturday with Alex Manuel kicking four, Isaac Barton three, Callan England two, Jacob Van Rooyen two and Ben Edwards two.
Dual Sandover Medallist Jye Bolton collected 39 possessions for Claremont while Bailey Rogers finished with 36 touches, Ryan Lim 34, Lachlan Martinis 28, Declan Mountford 25, Jake Patmore 25, Kane Mitchell 23, Max Spyvee 23 and Jack Lewsey 20.
Thomas Edwards kicked four goals from six kicks for Swan Districts with Jesse Palmer booting three, Lewis Jetta two and Brayden Noble two.
New Swans vice-captain Jesse Turner was outstanding with 34 possessions and 11 marks while Sam Fisher racked up 33 disposals, Frank Anderson 26, Josh Cipro 18, Nelson Waite 17 and Corey Gault 15 to go with 50 hit outs.
Swan Districts made the perfect start with a goal to new recruit Jesse Palmer to open the scoring. Lewis Jetta then made it the first two for Swans and Thomas Edwards added another.
When Jetta then added another from outside 50 and the black-and-whites had four goals on the board inside 15 minutes in a stunning start.
Claremont did manage to get on the board with a couple of their own goals late in the quarter, but Swans still finished off with a goal to Aidan Clarke and a second to Palmer to head into quarter-time leading by 23 points in a brilliant start against last year's Grand Finalists.
Palmer's stunning debut continued with his third goal to open the second term with Swans' lead back out to 29 points, but the Tigers were always going to fire back and they put together a massive eight-goal second term to head into half-time leading by 16 points.
Sandover Medallist Sam Fisher opened the second half with a goal for Swans to close the gap back 10 points but Claremont had built some momentum and weren’t up by as much as 35 points by the 25-minute mark of the third quarter.
But Swan Districts closed the quarter with two goals to Edwards and another to Tarir Bayok to give themselves a chance still only trailing by 17 points at three quarter-time.
Chris Jones then brought Swans back within 11 points with a goal to start the last term before a goal to vice-captain and Jesse Turner and captain Matt Riggio.
Suddenly it was game on and Swans only trailed by two points but Claremont did enough to steady from there and went on to score the 24-point Round 1 victory.