EAST Fremantle has survived a late scare from East Perth to run out 25-point victors in an entertaining Round 3 WAFL clash at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Royals threatened to produce one of the most incredible comebacks to overcome a nine-goal margin at the final break, kicking five goals in quick succession in the last quarter to get the margin back to 24 points on the back of their 100-plus point loss to Peel a week earlier.
However, a dominant third quarter from the Sharks proved too damaging as they kicked eight goals to two, boasting a 53-point three quarter-time lead.
The Royals who looked the stronger side in the first quarter, should’ve been leading at the first break if it wasn’t for their missed opportunities in front of goal kicking just one goal from seven scoring shots to end up with 1.6 to 2.2 from the Sharks.
With East Perth desperately missing captain Jackson Ramsay and hard-nosed midfielder Nick Robertson through injury and suspension, East Fremantle midfielders Kyle Baskerville (28 disposals), Milan Murdock (27) and Joshua Schoenfeld (24) were able to bully the Royals midfield in those first three quarters winning contested footy and clearances at will.
The Sharks began to take control in the second quarter kicking three goals to one, two of which came from an inspired Jonathon Marsh, who kicked into superman mode after a scuffle with Ajang Ajang left him sporting a ripped guernsey and a bare chest for the majority of the second term propelling him to dominate East Perth’s defence that quarter.
After taking control in the second quarter, the Sharks punished any misstep by the Royals in the third quarter kicking goals from turnovers, fumbles and seemingly winning every centre clearance.
When trailing by such a significant margin it could’ve been easy for the Royals to lay down and let the Sharks run over them in the final quarter, but they had no such plans.
East Perth kicked five goals to zero thanks to inspired efforts from Nathan Blee, Kye Willcocks and Mitchell Dobson, however it was too little too late as East Fremantle ran out 25-point winners.
SHARKS NULLIFY ROYALS RUCK DOMINANCE
Despite East Perth’s clear advantage in the ruck department winning hit outs 45-23, The Sharks midfield dominated the centre clearances particularly in the first three quarters, living up to their name sharking anything that Scott Jones (25 hit outs) and Ajang Ajang (20) were able to get their hands on.
COURAGEOUS DIXON GETS CROWD ON THEIR FEET
Ex-Fremantle Docker Hugh Dixon was the poster boy for the Sharks dominant third quarter, looking like he would mark anything that came inside-50, including a screamer running back with the flight and flying over a pack of four players, clunking one of the strongest grabs you’ll see at WAFL level. Most importantly of all he went back and slotted the goal (the first of his two for the quarter).
MOBILE JONES A HANDFUL FOR SHARKS
As well as dominating the hit outs, Scott Jones was able to push forward and kick three goals himself, looking strong in the air and impressing the crowd with his athleticism when the ball hit the ground as the 110kg ruckman was able to out manoeuvre his smaller, supposedly more agile defenders as well as being incredibly clean below his knees for such a big man.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 3
EAST FREMANTLE 2.2 5.6 13.7 13.10 (88)
EAST PERTH 1.6 2.8 4.8 9.9 (63)
EAST FREMANTLE: Goals – Marsh, Dixon, Bockman 2; Kommer, Boekhorst, McGuire, Strnadica, Lester-Smith, Snadden, O'Reilly.
Best – Eardley, Murdock, Baskerville, Dixon, Boekhorst, Schoenfeld, English, Leggett.
EAST PERTH: Goals – Jones 3; Magro 2; Young, Dobson, Scott, Merritt.
Best – Blee, Scott, Jones, Willcocks, Young, Kerr, Sparks.