EVERYONE was relieved to have the Optus WAFL Premiership Season resume on the weekend and it produced some fascinating results too with South Fremantle handing Subiaco its first loss while Claremont stayed unbeaten, Peel Thunder set another record and Swan Districts again impressed.
Round 4 of the WAFL season was forced to be postponed thanks to the snap lockdown called last weekend in Western Australia, but the action resumed this weekend and there were five fascinating match ups as a result.
Four of the five games took place on Saturday afternoon including a battle of the teams who have combined to win the last three WAFL premierships, South Fremantle and Subiaco. It was the Bulldogs who ended up prevailing and handing the Lions their first defeat of 2021 with the 12.8 (80) to 9.8 (62) victory.
Swan Districts started on fire and then held at East Perth at Leederville Oval to continue their impressive start to the 2021 season with the 10.8 (68) to 7.13 (55) win.
Perth also continued to build some momentum this season on the back of their breakthrough finals appearance in 2020, with the Demons proving too good for East Fremantle 11.8 (74) to 6.8 (44) at New Choice Homes Park.
The last game on Saturday then saw Claremont remain undefeated in 2021 after playing off in the Grand Final of 2020 with a 16.11 (107) to 8.7 (55) win against West Perth on home turf at Revo Fitness Stadium.
Then on Sunday, Peel Thunder recorded their highest ever WAFL score with a thumping 24.12 (156) to 12.5 (77) win against the West Coast Eagles at Mandurah's David Grays Arena on Sunday.
That all means that after five rounds of the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season, it's Claremont out on top of the ladder as the only undefeated team with the perfect 4-0 record.
Swan Districts sits second percentage ahead of Subiaco and South Fremantle who both hold 3-1 records.
Peel Thunder (2-2) rounds out the top five ahead of East Fremantle (2-2), Perth (2-2), West Perth (1-3), East Perth (0-4) and West Coast Eagles (0-4).
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 5
EAST PERTH 7.13 (55) lost to SWAN DISTRICTS 10.8 (68)
Swan Districts made a flying start with a six-goal to nil opening quarter and that set up an eventual 13-point win against East Perth to continue their impressive start to the 2021 season.
The WAFL season resumed on Saturday following the week off forced by the COVID-19 lockdown and that left East Perth back at home at Leederville Oval hunting their first win of the campaign up against a vastly improved Swan Districts outfit.
Swans shot out of the blocks quickly with six goals to nil in the final quarter and ultimately that would be enough to set up their eventual win.
But the Royals did outscore them with seven goals to four the rest of the way, but couldn’t quite close the gap fully with Swans going on to record the 10.8 (68) to 7.13 (55) victory.
Jesse Palmer kicked another two goals for Swan Districts to be the only multiple goal scorer for the black-and-whites in the win to take his season tally to 13 to be right in the Bernie Naylor Medal race in his debut WAFL season.
Reigning Sandover Medallist Sam Fisher delivered a best on ground for Swans in the midfield racking up 37 possessions, eight marks and a goal. His fellow 2020 recruit Frank Anderson was terrific as well finishing with 35 disposals, six tackles and a goal.
Josh Cipro continued his strong form this season as well with 25 possessions and seven tackles while Jackson Beck finished with 20 disposals, Lachlan Riley 19 and Jak Watson 15.
Corey Gault was the best big man on the ground with 20 possessions, 28 hit outs, seven marks and a goal in the ruck for Swans while down back, Nelson Waite gave good drive again with 19 disposals.
Eddie Simpson provided a strong target in attack for East Perth and would end up kicking five of the Royals' seven goals for the game from his nine kicks and five marks.
Angus Scott might not be garnering a lot of headlines, but he remains a remarkably consistent big ball winner for East Perth and he racked up another 36 disposals to go with six marks, five inside-50 entries and four tackles.
Aidan Lynch also collected 33 disposals for the Royals to go with five marks, five tackles and five inside-50 entries with Matthew Young gathering 20 touches, Mitch Dobson 20, Nathan Blee 18 and Thomas Edwards-Baldwin 18.
Christian Ameduri worked furiously as well laying 13 tackles to go with 19 possessions and six entries inside the forward 50.
It took little over a minute for Swan Districts to get the first goal of the game courtesy of Frank Anderson.
It took 10 minutes for the next but when Thomas Edwards kicked truly, Jesse Falmer, Corey Gault, Jak Watson and Lachlan Riley all followed soon after to give Swans the only six goals of the opening term and a 37-point advantage that would prove a match-winning lead.
East Perth got its first goal of the game to start the second term thanks to big man Ajang Ajang. Eddie Simpson added his first soon after and when he kicked a second heading towards half-time, it was just a 14-point ball game.
But Sam Fisher kicked a steadier for Swans to give them a 20-point edge to take into the main break.
The Royals peppered the goals to start the second half but only had four behinds to show for it in the opening 10 minutes before finally Simpson was able to kick truly and bring the home team within 10 points.
Palmer's second goal proved a steadier again for Swan Districts but East Perth was now in control and got a goal back through Simpson, but inaccuracy was the only reason they still trailed by five points and hadn’t assumed the lead by three quarter-time.
Simpson's fifth goal to start the fourth term did see East Perth take the lead but it only lasted two minutes before Jiah Reidy put Swans back in front and then Brayden Noble would kick what would be the ultimate sealing goal at the 12-minute mark.
EAST FREMANTLE 6.8 (44) lost to PERTH 11.8 (74)
Perth kicked six goals in the opening quarter away to East Fremantle on Saturday and that was enough to set up the eventual five-goal win for the Demons.
On the back of last year's breakthrough finals appearance, Perth is now building some momentum again in 2021 and they came out of the blocks on fire on Saturday against East Fremantle at New Choice Homes Park.
The Demons piled on six goals to one in the opening quarter and while it was five goals apiece from then on the rest of the afternoon, that burst to start the game was enough to set up the 11.8 (74) to 6.8 (44) win.
The result leaves both teams sitting on 2-2 records now after the opening four matches of the 2021 WAFL season.
Doulton Langlands was on fire early for Perth to help set up the win with three goals to go with 15 possessions and six tackles for the game. Sam Stubbs also booted two majors.
Brady Grey collected another 24 possessions for the Demons in a superb all-round performance made up of 11 marks, 10 inside 50s, nine tackles and a goal.
Brent Edmonds also had 22 possessions, Matt Taylor 20 and ruckman Christian Eyres 17 to go with 21 hit outs and six marks.
Jacob Coniglio was impressive down back with 24 possessions and eight marks with Zac Hill also finishing with 17 disposals.
East Fremantle didn’t have a multiple goal scorer on the game but Cam Eardley was a standout through the middle with 32 possessions and five tackles.
Morgan Davies also gathered 21 disposals for the Sharks, Jarrad Jansen 20, Jordan Snadden 16 and Milan Murdock 16.
It took only 30 seconds for Perth to get their fast start up and running with a goal to Doulton Langlands. Big man Dakota Baldwin-Edwards added another just two minutes later before the Sharks knew what hit them.
East Fremantle did steady, though, with a goal to Morgan Davies but that only sparked the Demons back into gear with two quick goals to Sam Stubbs before they closed the quarter with majors to Langlands and Michael Sinclair to hold a five-goal edge by quarter-time.
Perth's lead grew to 37 points early in the second term with a third goal to Langlands before East Fremantle managed to stem the tide and get a couple of goals back through Milan Murdock and Nick Kommer to be just 23 points down at half-time.
Brady Grey pushed Perth's lead back out to five goals to start the second half when he kicked truly and Kristian Cary made the lead 35 points before East Fremantle did get a goal back through Ryan Lester-Smith to just stay in touch by three quarter-time.
But both teams kicked two goals apiece in the last term with Perth taking away the 30-point victory from Shark Park.
CLAREMONT 16.11 (107) defeated WEST PERTH 8.7 (55)
Claremont had to overcome a fast start from West Perth at Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday, but the Tigers dominated the last three quarters to remain the only defeated team in the WAFL competition.
West Perth arrived at Tigerland determined to take it right up to the undefeated Claremont, and the Falcons started well with four goals to two in the opening quarter but they couldn’t quite maintain the rage.
Claremont would end up kicking 14 goals to four over the final three quarters to run out convincing 16.11 (107) to 8.7 (55) winners to maintain their undefeated record while the Falcons slip to 1-3 to start the new season.
It's a new-look Claremont forward-line in 2021 but it's proving a highly effective one and on Saturday, it was Jack Buller who kicked five goals from 15 possessions and six marks.
Anthony Treacy and Isaac Barton also kicked two goals each for Claremont.
Claremont's attacking half-back Lachlan Martinis continued his tremendous start to the season with another 42 possessions and nine marks while the man he's replaced in the role as the set up defender, new wingman Bailey Rogers also had 30 disposals, 10 marks and five inside-50 entries.
Oliver Eastland likely played his best game in the ruck for the Tigers too with 25 possessions, 30 hit outs and 10 marks while Kane Mitchell racked up 27 disposals, Ben Edwards 24, Ryan Lim 23, Jack Lewsey 20 and Declan Mountford 18.
Declan Hardisty had 17 possessions and kicked a goal for the Tigers while Dylan Smallwood was superb defensively holding West Perth's Tyler Keitel to the one behind and six kicks.
Tyson Moulton and Keegan Knott kicked two goals apiece for West Perth but Keitel being held to one behind hurt their chances to kick a winning score.
West Perth had some big ball winners once again with Shane Nelson collecting 39 possessions, Connor West 35, Aaron Black 25, Steve Potente 25, Blake Wilhelm 22, Conal Lynch 20 and Noah Pegoraro 20 while Liam Tedesco did well holding dual Sandover Medallist Jye Bolton to 13 touches.
West Perth started impressively away from home in their attempt to hand Claremont its first defeat of the season. The Falcons kicked the first two goals through Thomas Boyes and Tyson Moulton and it took 12 minutes for the Tigers to get on the board courtesy of usual defender Declan Hardisty.
But West Perth had come out of the blocks well and responded thanks to Keegan Knott and still went into quarter-time leading by 12 points thanks to a goal in time-on from Noah Pegoraro.
The Falcons had thrown the gauntlet down to the Tigers and last year's Grand Finalists responded in fine fashion beginning with an early second quarter goal to Ben Edwards.
Anthony Treacy then added two in no time to Claremont in front before Jack Buller, Max Minear and Callan England all kicked truly to extend the lead for the home side to 21 points by half-time.
Buller added another for Claremont to start the second half and the Tigers were off and going.
They would add another five goals to one in the third term, and then three goals to two in the last to run out 52-point winners to keep their winning start to the season going as the last remaining undefeated team while the Falcons slipped to 1-3.
SOUTH FREMANTLE 12.8 (80) defeated SUBIACO 9.8 (62)
South Fremantle delivered some scintillating football either side of half-time to set up their win over Subiaco by 18 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday.
It always loomed as a fascinating contest on Saturday afternoon as the WAFL season resumed after a forced week's break thanks to the lockdown over COVID-19 throughout Western Australia.
South Fremantle and Subiaco have shared the last three WAFL premierships between them, and both are looking to be contenders again in 2021 meaning that Saturday's match up could be an early sign of where both teams sit.
Subiaco's hopes weren’t helped when they lost both Max Walters and Rowen Powell before half-time after a sickening collision with one another, but they kept fighting even though South Fremantle did lead by as much as 41 points during the third quarter.
South Fremantle did play some scintillating football late in the second quarter and through the first half of the third, and the Bulldogs kicked 11 goals to four in the second and third terms, but they wouldn’t have been overly happy with their start and finish to the game.
Despite suffering their first loss of the season, Subiaco never gave in and did close that 41-point gap to 17 during the last quarter but South Fremantle did enough to hold on and win 12.8 (80) to 9.8 (62) to improve to a 3-1 record as part of their premiership defence.
Haiden Schloithe delivered another best on ground performance for South Fremantle with 39 possessions, nine marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s and two goals.
Reigning Bernie Naylor Medallist Mason Shaw kicked another three goals for the Bulldogs with Cody Ninyette adding another two majors.
Jacob Dragovich finished with 29 disposals and seven tackles as well for South Fremantle, George Wessels 19 possessions and eight tackles, Tom Blechynden 17 possessions, Matthew Parker 17 disposals and ruckman Brock Higgins 17 touches, 34 hit outs, five marks, four inside 50s and three tackles.
Former Bulldog Ben Sokol and Nick Martin kicked two goals each for Subiaco.
Greg Clark continued his career-best form for Subiaco with another 30 possessions while Harry Marsh finished with 23 disposals, Leigh Kitchin 22, Michael Braut 16, Chad Harris 16 and Martin 16.
Sandover Medallist Lachlan Delahunty battled hard for 21 possessions, 29 hit outs, seven tackles and a goal as well for the Lions.
Subiaco came to Fremantle Community Bank Oval to take on the reigning premiers defending their undefeated record to open the 2021 season, and the Lions started well with the first goal of the game thanks to Nick Martin.
South Fremantle soon responded through Matthew Parker but Subiaco managed the only other goal of the first term through Lachlan Delahunty to see them lead by seven points at the first change.
Mason Shaw marked and goaled to start the second term to put South Fremantle within a point but former Bulldog Ben Sokol responded soon after to put the Lions back up by seven points.
The Bulldogs soon gained the lead, though, with majors to Haiden Schloithe and Brandon Donaldson before Cody Ninyette stretched the lead to 10 points.
South Fremantle then closed the quarter with three goals in the last three minutes including a beauty on the run from Ben Rioli to see the reigning premiers lead by 22 points at the major interval.
Cam McCarthy kicked a nice goal for South Fremantle to signal he still has plenty to offer at WAFL level before Schloithe added another soon after, and so did Shaw to open up a 41-point advantage for the Bulldogs.
Chad Harris got one back for Subiaco but Shaw responded with his third to give South Fremantle a game-high 42-point lead but the Lions kept a degree of touch with Martin's second goal just before three quarter-time.
Aaron Heal then brought the Lions back within 31 points to start the final term and 10 minutes later Jordan Faraone kicked truly to make it a 23-point game.
Sokol then brought Subiaco within 17 points but the Lions couldn’t get any closer and the Bulldogs held on for the 18-point win despite going goalless for the last 40 minutes of the game.
PEEL THUNDER 24.12 (156) defeated WEST COAST EAGLES 12.5 (77)
For the second time this season that is only four games old Peel Thunder has kicked its highest ever score, this time doing it on Sunday at home to beat the West Coast Eagles WAFL team by 79 points.
It has been a vastly improved start to the 2021 season from the Thunder and their two wins have now both been record setting ones.
Back in Round 2, Peel recorded its biggest ever victory to the tune of 105 points against East Perth and also kicked the club's highest ever score of 24.10 (154).
The margin wouldn’t be bettered on Sunday at David Grays Arena, but the Thunder did set a new mark for the highest score in the club's history that dates back to 1997 in the eventual 24.12 (156) to 12.5 (77) victory.
It was an impressive all-round performance from the Thunder and never before in their history have they had such scoring firepower, or played such attacking football and that includes their premiership years of 2016 and 2017.
On Sunday against the Eagles, they managed to maintain the rage for four quarters too with 13 goals to six in the first half, and another 11 goals to six in the second half to end up winning by 79 points.
It was quite the dangerous forward-line with dual premiership player Blair Bell kicking six goals from 16 possessions and nine marks. Josh Treacy also kicked five goals from 18 disposals and eight marks with Sam Sturt booting four goals and Bailey Banfield two before going off injured.
Tyrone Thorne continued his breakout form this season for the Thunder with the performance of his career to date made up of 33 possessions, six marks, six tackles and two goals.
There were plenty more big ball winners for Peel with Ben Hancock racking up 34 disposals, Ben Howlett 33, Stefan Giro 33, Jackson Merrett 26 (12 marks), Joel Western 26 (10 marks), Connor Blakely 24 and Michael Randall 23.
Lloyd Meek was a dominant presence in the ruck with 23 disposals and 29 hit outs while Will Schofield also racked up 22 possessions, Brett Bewley 22 and Liam Henry 20.
Small forward Jarrod Cameron kicked three goals for the Eagles with Callum Jamieson and Brendon Ah Chee adding two apiece.
Hamish Brayshaw collected 29 possessions for West Coast, Xavier O'Neill 28, Ben Johnson 21, Joey Deegan 21 and Harry Sinclair 20.
The record setting performance from Peel got underway with an early goal to Bailey Banfield. Sam Sturt soon added another but it would be a high-scoring opening term from both teams.
Brendon Ah Chee got the Eagles on the board but Banfield's second helped the Thunder take control with six goals to three by quarter-time and to lead by 19 points.
West Coast appeared capable of making a game of it with a goal to Luke Edwards to start the second term to bring the margin back to 13 points, but it wasn’t to be.
Tyrone Thorne, Blair Bell, Liam Henry, Bell again and then Josh Treacy all kicked goals for Peel in the space of 12 minutes to see the lead balloon out to 38 points, and it was 44 by half-time after a couple more goals late to Bell who was having a day out.
The Eagles did well to keep pace with the Thunder in the third term with both teams kicking four goals apiece, but it was then all Peel in the final quarter as they piled on seven more goals to end up kicking the club's highest ever score and to win by 79 points in style.