THE West Coast Eagles shocked Subiaco to get their first win of 2021 at their expense a month ago but the Lions reversed that result at Leederville Oval on Saturday with a solid 20-point victory.
After losing their opening eight games of the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season, the Eagles stunned the top-of-the-table Lions with a five-point win back in Round 11.
However, Subiaco was able to produce dominant second and fourth quarters at Leederville Oval on Saturday to record a solid 12.6 (78) to 9.4 (58) victory.
The win means that the Lions retain top spot on the WAFL ladder with a 9-3 record but it sets up a fascinating 2019 Grand Final rematch with South Fremantle next Sunday at Leederville Oval with that top spot going back on the line.
Despite the loss, West Coast forward Jake Waterman was the most influential forward on the ground with four goals, while Jarrod Brander (29 disposals) had an inspired second half to try to will the Eagles home.
The Lions played a good brand of team football which got them the win, with captain Leigh Kitchin again among the best with 32 touches, while wingman Chad Harris was good with 24 disposals to go with two goals.
Greg Clark continued his stunning season with another 20 possessions and 10 marks.
Subiaco’s ruck stocks had taken a hit prior to the game, with former Sandover Medallist Lachlan Delahunty out due to being in quarantine.
It meant Subiaco were backing second-gamer Oskar Matthews against AFL premiership player Nathan Vardy on their quest to right their Round 11 loss at the same ground which saw the Eagles record their first win of the WAFL season.
It was a competitive opening term, with the Lions looking dangerous in the first part of the quarter.
It was Subiaco forward Brandon Matera who got the home side going, with the former Sun and Docker kicking a classy left foot snap for goal.
The Eagles immediately responded, with midfielder Xavier O’Neill finding a target in forward Jake Waterman, who kicked truly to get West Coast on the board.
They continued to put pressure on, and another goal from Waterman and one from ruckman Nathan Vardy meant the Eagles took a 12-point lead at quarter-time.
The Lions played the rest of the game a man down, with Jacob Atkinson out late in the first with a suspected hamstring.
Subiaco looked to take control of the game in the second turn, after a costly turnover from West Coast started a run of goals for the Lions.
Brandon Matera was able to find his brother Bailey who got on the scoreboard, before Chad Harris converted to give Subiaco two in a couple of minutes.
The string of goals continued, with Nick Martin and Harry Marsh kicking truly, before emerging Lion Josh Robbins kicked his first goal in league footy, much to the delight of onlookers.
The Eagles responded by taking possession of the ball and by using their trademark slow play, which turned into a late goal off the boot of Harry Sinclair.
It stopped the run of Subiaco, but the Lions had a 24-point turnaround to lead by 12 at the main break.
West Coast were able to fight their way back into the contest, with Jake Waterman again influential.
He looked to dominate against the Lions’ defence, taking contested marks, while also kicking a couple of goals to keep the Eagles in the game.
West Coast played impressive team football, kicking five of the six goals for the quarter, including an end-to-end goal finished by Luke Foley on the 50.
The see-sawing contest was set up for a thrilling finish as West Coast took an 11-point lead into three quarter-time.
The last term looked to be whoever could hold on to the momentum, which the Lions were able to do.
Goals from Max Walters and Ben Sokol put the Lions in front, and while the Eagles kept coming, it was the Subiaco back-line who were able to stand up and stop West Coast every time they went inside 50.
While the Eagles fought hard, goals from Harry Marsh and Chad Harris put the victory beyond doubt, before Brandon Matera put the exclamation point on the Lions’ 12.6 (78) to 9.4 (58) win.
SUMICH STANDS TALL IN EX-DOG BATTLE
Subiaco forward Ben Sokol was key in the clash against the Eagles in Round 11, kicking six majors to be the dominant forward on the ground. Backman Zane Sumich was given the big task, and he took it with both hands as the two former South Fremantle products went head-to-head. The 22-year-old had 21 touches and looked solid against a tough matchup. Meanwhile, Bernie Naylor Medallist Sokol had one goal for the game, and was kept quiet until the fourth term. Although the Eagles couldn’t get the win, Sumich was a standout.
WEST COAST RUE COSTLY ERRORS
In the second quarter, the game was in the balance with West Coast taking a six-point advantage. A missed handball from Hamish Brayshaw quickly led to a Bailey Matera goal. It sparked a run of five straight goals in the term to give the Lions an advantage. The Eagles did well to come back but made more skill errors to give the Lions energy to come back. It was a see-sawing contest, with five lead changes across the game. However, Eagles coach Daniel Pratt will review the game and wonder if the clash is one that got away.
SUBIACO’S BACK-LINE UP TO CHALLENGE
In the last quarter, West Coast were looking to wrestle back the momentum as they had done previously in the game. However, Subiaco’s back-line were too experienced and too strong, as they rebounded to turn defence into attack. It’s a credit to the level heads of Angus Dewar, Aaron Heal, and Drew Rohde, who all used their footy smarts to stay composed and get the Lions out of trouble. Subiaco were able to keep the Eagles to just one point in the last term, a superb effort, and key to their win.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 15
SUBIACO 1.2 6.2 7.4 12.6 (78)
WEST COAST EAGLES 3.2 4.2 9.3 9.4 (58)
SUBIACO: Goals – Brandon Matera 3; Marsh, Harris 2; Walters, Sokol, Martin, Bailey Matera, Robbins.
Best – Kitchin, Clark, Brandon Matera, Harris, L Hickmott, Marsh, Stainsby.
WEST COAST EAGLES: Goals – Waterman 4; Vardy, Foley, Sinclair, Hug, Busher.
Best – Waterman, Brayshaw, Ainsworth, Witherden, O'Neill, Brander, Sumich.