IT was statement time in Round 8 of the 2021 WAFL season with Subiaco and Claremont cementing their holds on the top spots, South Fremantle bouncing back and West Perth and Swan Districts breaking free of the pack.
All five matches for Round 8 of the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season took place on Saturday afternoon, and with five teams all locked on identical 3-3 records and four of them playing one another, it was always going to be the ideal time for statements to be made.
All of a sudden by the conclusion of the Round 8 action, there are two teams out on top with the reigning premiers hot on the heels while the winners who had been on 3-3 records now occupy the remaining two spots in the top five so there were indeed big ramifications for the results on Saturday.
Each game took place on Saturday afternoon beginning with Subiaco and Peel Thunder locking horns in a rematch of the 2017 and 2018 Grand Finals at Leederville Oval, with the Lions proving too good to beat the Thunder 11.17 (83) to 5.9 (39).
Claremont then proved too good for an East Perth team coming off their first win of the season last week, with the Tigers prevailing 14.12 (96) to 9.6 (60) at Revo Fitness Stadium.
South Fremantle was coming off a loss to Perth last Saturday but the reigning premiers bounced back strongly by unveiling two further debutants to prove too good for the winless West Coast Eagles winning 20.7 (127) to 9.7 (61) at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Swan Districts then snapped its two-game losing slide by improving to a 4-3 record and fourth position on the ladder with a dominant 16.9 (105) to 8.13 (61) victory against East Fremantle at Steel Blue Oval.
The last match of the round then saw Perth snap its 19-game losing streak against West Perth by improving to 4-3 and moving into fifth position with a 7.6 (48) to 5.8 (38) victory for the Demons against the Falcons at Joondalup's Provident Financial Oval.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 8
SUBIACO 11.17 (83) defeated PEEL THUNDER 5.9 (39)
Subiaco is back on top of the WAFL ladder after a 44-point win against Peel Thunder at Leederville Oval on Saturday on the back of a five-goal to nil opening quarter.
Subiaco didn’t concede a single scoring shot to Peel in the opening quarter and while the game was relatively even over the last three quarters, the damage had been done and the Lions went on to claim the 11.17 (83) to 5.9 (39) victory.
Harry Marsh put together a brilliant game for Subiaco with three goals to go with 24 possessions, nine marks, six tackles and five inside-50 entries. Wil Hickmott also kicked two goals to go with 19 disposals and five marks.
Greg Clark continued his career-best Sandover Medal contending form as well for the Lions with another 30 possessions, eight marks and six tackles while Lachlan Delahunty was the best ruckman on the ground with 30 disposals, seven marks and 16 hit outs.
Captain Leigh Kitchin picked up 20 possessions, Liam Hickmott 19, Chad Harris 17 and Aaron Heal 17 while the back-line was tremendous with Angus Litherland gathering 21 touches and Hayden Kennedy 18.
Ben Howlett kicked two goals for Peel to go with 19 possessions and seven tackles.
Reece Conca put his hand up for an AFL recall with the Dockers with 27 possessions while Tyrone Thorne picked up 22 disposals, Ben Hancock 22, Nathan O'Driscoll 21, Michael Randall 19 and Jarvis Pina 19.
Peel has played some good football so far in 2021 but Subiaco simply dominated them in the first quarter on Saturday to put the game pretty much to bed by quarter-time.
The only nine scoring shots of the quarter went the way of the Lions which included goals to Harry Marsh, Liam Hickmott, Chad Harris, Marsh again and then Ben Sokol as they opened up a 34-point advantage on the Thunder.
Peel eventually got on the board with a goal to Michael Randall early in the second term but it ended up being two goals apiece for the quarter with Subiaco heading into half-time still in control by 33 points.
Bailey Matera showed glimpses of what he can bring to Subiaco still in the back half of the season with the first goal of the second half before Michael Braut kicked truly and then Marsh booted a third to see the lead get out beyond 50 points.
Subiaco would still lead by 49 points at three quarter-time and then end up winning by 44 to do enough to leapfrog Claremont back into top spot on the ladder by percentage.
CLAREMONT 14.12 (96) defeated EAST PERTH 9.6 (60)
Claremont took East Perth's best shots in the first half on Saturday but were able to overpower the Royals in the second half with the Tigers running out 36-point winners.
Claremont had bounced back from their first loss of the season with a big win over East Fremantle last week while East Perth had recorded its first win of 2021 over the West Coast Eagles setting up the contest at Revo Fitness Stadium.
Despite only one-point separating the two teams at half-time, Claremont kicked away in the second half with 10 goals to five to come away with the 14.12 (96) to 9.6 (60) victory.
Jack Buller kicked another three goals for Claremont from 10 kicks and nine marks while Jake Patmore marked his return with three goals too.
Callan England kicked two goals as well for the Tigers to go with 19 possessions and six marks.
Just two weeks after winning a fourth career Simpson Medal, Jye Bolton was once again brilliant for Claremont with 34 possessions, nine inside-50 entries, seven marks and a goal in a best on ground performance.
Ryan Lim racked up another 25 possessions for the Tigers, Kane Mitchell 23, Bailey Rogers 22, Declan Mountford 21, Thomas Baldwin 21 and Jared Hardisty while Oliver Eastland had 18 disposals and 39 hit outs in the ruck.
Jayden Magro kicked another three goals for East Perth and former Tiger Eddie Simpson two with Aidan Lynch continuing his brilliant form with two goals to go with 26 possessions.
Angus Scott was outstanding on the wing for East Perth with 34 possessions while Nathan Blee ended up with 25 disposals, Angus Schumacher 23, Mitch Dobson 22, Harley Sparks 21, Christian Ameduri 20 and Jack Cooley 19.
Even though East Perth was coming off its first win of the season, Claremont dominated the early going on Saturday with the game's first two goals through Steve Miller and Jack Buller.
The Royals did get one back, though, by quarter-time to trail by just the seven points with Mitch Dobson kicking accurately.
East Perth then had a couple of gettable chances to start the second quarter, but Claremont wee the ones able to kick straight through Declan Mountford.
The Royals were working back into the contest nicely, though, and goals to Aidan Lynch and Eddie Simpson suddenly had them in front, but it wouldn’t last long. Jye Bolton regained the lead for the Tigers but it was only a solitary point by half-time.
Callan England was able to extend Claremont's lead with his first to start the second half and then Jack Buller extended the Tigers' advantage to 17 points which is where it remained by three quarter-time.
Claremont put the game out of reach of East Perth within eight minutes of the fourth quarter with a couple of goals to Jake Patmore, and the Tigers would end up doing enough to maintain a top two spot on the ladder with the 36-point win.
SOUTH FREMANTLE 20.7 (127) defeated WEST COAST EAGLES 9.7 (61)
South Fremantle needed to bounce back from a loss last week and the reigning premiers did so in comfortable enough fashion keeping the West Coast Eagles winless in 2021.
The Bulldogs suffered their second loss of the season last Saturday at the hands of Perth having kicked just the one goal after a seven-goal haul in the first quarter.
They were challenged by coach Todd Curley to respond and they did a good job of that with a comfortable enough 20.7 (127) to 9.7 (61) victory against the winless Eagles at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Jimmy Miller already confirmed himself a career-best afternoon up forward for South Fremantle before half-time when he already had five goals to his name. he also ended the game with 16 possessions and eight marks.
The Bulldogs had plenty more avenues to goal too with Matthew Parker delivering just about a best on ground performance not only kicking four goals but racking up 26 possessions, nine marks, six inside-50 entries and three tackles.
Cody Ninyette and Mason Shaw also both had a welcome return to form as South Fremantle's leading goalkickers so far this season by kicking three goals apiece.
Haiden Schloithe was right back to his top form as well for South Fremantle racking up 35 possessions to go with nine marks, four tackles and three entries inside the forward 50.
There were two more debutants for the Bulldogs with Toby McQuilkin outstanding with 23 possessions and seven marks.
Jarrod Salmeri had his moments too with nine disposals while last week's debutant Manfred Kelly showed some good signs again with eight disposals and the first goal of his WAFL career.
Captain Dylan Main also had 21 touches for South Fremantle, Jacob Dragovich 20, Blake Schlensog 19, Brandon Donaldson 17 and ruckman Brock Higgins 16 to go with 24 hit outs.
Hamish Brayshaw kicked two goals for the Eagles while Xavier O'Neill continued his impressive form with 24 possessions, 10 inside 50s and six tackles.
Mark Hutchings also had 21 disposals for West Coast, Zane Trew 20 and Brayden Ainsworth 17.
Jimmy Miller was on fire to start the game and his first goal came just a minute into the contest. He added a second at the three-minute mark and he was then the beneficiary of a bit of a lucky holding the ball free-kick.
He got it straight in front and nailed his third goal and it was the most remarkable of starts from the big man who memorably kicked the sealing goal in last year's Grand Final for the Bulldogs.
West Coast was able to steady, though after that blistering start from the Bulldogs and all of a sudden the Eagles drew back level after their own three goals in the space of six minutes courtesy of Hamish Brayshaw, Jarrod Garlett and Cooper Nitschke.
South Fremantle needed to respond and did so firstly with a goal before quarter-time to Matthew Parker and another to Cody Ninyette that saw the Bulldogs take an 11-point advantage into the first break.
Ninyette then managed his second goal of the game to start the second term before Mason Shaw kicked his first and Miller added a fourth as the lead grew to 30 points for the reigning premiers.
State player Zac Strom then kicked truly to stretch South Fremantle's further before captain Dylan Main also kicked truly and then heading towards half-time Miller booted his fifth of the game.
Shaw added a second and the Bulldogs and broken the game open to lead by 54 points over the winless Eagles at the half.
It became a 60-point lead for South Fremantle when Jacob Dragovich kicked truly to open the second half and then a third for Ninyette saw the Bulldogs go up by 11 goals.
West Coast at least managed a couple of late goals in the third term but South Fremantle was still in control by 57 points at three quarter-time.
The game really opened up in the final term with South Fremantle kicking another five goals to four from West Coast with the Bulldogs cruising to the 66-point win just before the heavens opened with pouring rain seconds after the final siren.
SWAN DISTRICTS 16.9 (105) defeated EAST FREMANTLE 8.13 (61)
Swan Districts is back inside the WAFL's top five on the back of a dominant performance most of the afternoon to beat East Fremantle by 44 points at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday.
Swans were determined to bounce back from a couple of losses to West Perth and Subiaco despite still being competitive after a strong start to the season, and they were in control pretty much all the way against the Sharks on home turf on Saturday.
The eventual 16.9 (105) to 8.13 (61) victory was an impressive one for Swans to improve them to a 4-3 record on the season to sit in fourth position while the Sharks drop out of the top five at 3-4 ahead of hosting the reigning premiers South Fremantle in the WA Day Foundation Derby.
Jesse Palmer kicked another three goals for Swan Districts from seven kicks, four marks and three tackles while Aidan Clarke, Lachlan Riley, Thomas Edwards and Brayden Noble all kicked two goals apiece.
Frank Anderson continued his standout season in the middle for Swan Districts with 26 possessions, six marks, five tackles and a goal.
Josh Cipro gathered another 22 disposals for the black-and-whites, Jackson Beck 22, Nelson Waite 21, Jiah Reidy 20, Tony Notte 20, Jesse Turner 20 and ruckman Corey Gault 19 to go with 36 hit outs.
Anthony Stephens came into the Swans team too and he did a strong job running with former Swan Districts wingman Blaine Boekhorst, holding him to 14 possessions while having 14 himself.
Nick Kommer was East Fremantle's only multiple goalscorer on the day with two.
Cam Eardley maintained his strong midfield form for the Sharks with another 29 possessions with Jordan Snadden gathering 19 disposals and ruckman Luke Strnadica 18 touches to go with 39 hit outs.
Cody Leggett did a strong shutdown job on Sandover Medallist Sam Fisher too holding him to just 15 disposals on the afternoon.
East Fremantle was able to start well enough away from home with the game's first three scoring shots and the opening goal from Tim Bockman.
But Swan Districts soon steadied and kicked their own couple of goals before quarter-time through Thomas Edwards and Jesse Palmer to lead by the five points.
Brayden Noble then extended the lead for Swans to 11 points a minute into the second quarter with a goal before Sam Fisher and Jesse Palmer joined as well. When Palmer added a second, suddenly Swans were in control by 28 points but they weren’t done yet.
Goals to Edwards, Lachlan Riley, Warrick Wilson and Matt Riggio extended the lead for the black-and-whites to 45 points and it was 39 still by the half-time break.
East Fremantle tried to mount a fightback in the third quarter but every time they appeared to be building some momentum, Swan Districts had the answers and late goals before three quarter-time to Riley and Aidan Clarke ensured Swans were still in control by 33 points.
Another three goals to one in the last quarter from Swan Districts ensured they cruised to the 44-point win at home to return to the top five following a couple of tough losses.
WEST PERTH 5.8 (38) lost to PERTH 7.6 (48)
Perth ended one drought just by playing West Perth in the elimination final last year, and this Saturday they ended that 19-game losing streak against the Falcons in style with the 10-point victory.
Perth played finals for the first time since 1997 last year but it was West Perth who ensured it wasn’t a winning return to the finals for the Demons as they won the elimination final for what was a 19th consecutive victory for the Falcons against the Demons.
It was the longest drought held currently by any club over another, and looked likely to continue when West Perth led Perth for the first half at Joondalup's Provident Financial Oval.
But Perth wouldn’t be denied and kicked five goals to two after half-time to end up winning 7.6 (48) to 5.8 (38) and beat West Perth for the first time since Round 18, 2011.
Kristian Cary was lively in attack for and kicked two goals from his six shots to be the Demons' only multiple goalscorer in the game.
Corey Byrne was outstanding all afternoon in the midfield for Perth with 30 possessions while Matthew Taylor finished with 29 disposals, Haydn Busher 21, Andrew Fisher 19, Mitch Browne 19 and Brent Edmonds 18.
Zac Hill was outstanding down back in the absence of Clayton Giblett holding Tyler Keitel to just the one goal.
Last week's six-goal hero Keegan Knott kicked another two goals for West Perth from six kicks and five tackles.
Captain Aaron Black amassed another 32 possessions for West Perth while Tristan Hobley gathered 28 disposals, Zac Guadagnin 25, Connor West 24 and centre half-back Noah Pegoraro 19 to go with eight marks.
Not only did Regan Clarke kick the winning goal but he had 15 possessions himself and did well limiting West Perth ball magnet Shane Nelson to 18 disposals.
Perth had a couple of chances at the opening goal but Kristian Cary couldn’t quite pick that tricky Joondalup breeze, but Tyler Keitel had no such troubles up the other end.
Mitch Antonio also kicked truly for the Falcons but Cary had more luck on third go just before quarter-time to keep Perth within four points at the opening break.
Corey Byrne then put the Demons in front with a goal midway through the second quarter but Keegan Knott responded for West Perth as the lead continued to switch, and the Falcons went into the half-time break leading by three points.
Perth started the second half strongly with three of the opening four goals to lead by as much as nine points, but Knott kicked a second for West Perth to bring the Falcons back within touch.
The Demons still went into three quarter-time leading by six points after a late goal to Matthew Rogers, but scoring got decidedly more challenging in the last term.
That suited Perth who already had the lead and the Demons managed the game winner thanks to Regan Clarke as they won by 10 points and ended that long and unwanted drought against the Falcons in style to return to the top five at the same time.