WEST Perth reclaimed top spot in the WAFL with a Round 14 win while South Fremantle beat East Fremantle for a 14th consecutive time with Claremont and Swan Districts consolidating their top five positions and Peel Thunder keeping themselves in contention too.
The wet weather returned to greet the Round 14 WAFL action on Saturday, but with so much at stake in all five matches, there were some fascinating results by the time it concluded under lights at Mineral Resources Park.
The first Fremantle Derby played at the WACA Ground in 105 years was where a lot of the attention was with the two old rivals battling over a top two position.
In the end it was a familiar result with South Fremantle dominating early to end up beating East Fremantle 9.13 (67) to 5.4 (34) in Zac Strom's 150th game. It made it 14 consecutive derby wins for the Bulldogs against the Sharks.
Captain Dylan Main kicked four goals for South Fremantle and Manfred Kelly two with Haiden Schloithe delivering 28 touches and 15 tackles. Alex Montauban kicked three goals for East Fremantle and Kyle Baskerville finished with 29 disposals and 13 tackles.
Claremont also got a crucial win to keep themselves in the top two race by beating Subiaco in a slog at Leederville Oval, 5.5 (35) to 4.4 (28).
Jack Buller kicked two goals for Claremont while Ryan Lim racked up 32 possessions, Jye Bolton 26, Ronin O'Connor 25 and Ben Edwards 25. Bernie Naylor Medal leader Ben Sokol kicked two goals for Subiaco with Stefan Giro gathering 22 touches.
Swan Districts was able to consolidate their hold on a finals spot as well by beating East Perth 10.7 (67) to 6.8 (44) at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval.
Lachlan Riley and Chris Jones kicked three goals apiece for Swan Districts with Aidan Clarke racking up 37 touches and Jesse Turner 36. Angus Schumacher finished with 41 disposals for East Perth and Hamish Brayshaw 31.
Peel Thunder kept its season alive by coming to Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park and beating Perth 11.13 (79) to 7.7 (49).
Darcy Tucker was brilliant for Peel with 32 possessions and two goals while Blair Bell, Ben Middleton and Ethan Hughes all kicked two goals as well. Harry Quartermaine kicked two goals for the Demons with Matt Taylor and Haydn Busher gathering 24 touches.
Lastly was the second half of the double-header at Mineral Resources Park with West Perth back on top with the 12.18 (90) to 4.9 (33) win against the bottom placed West Coast Eagles.
Conal Lynch kicked four goals for West Perth and Rudy Riddoch three in his 100th WAFL appearance. Shane Nelson had 32 possessions, Luke Meadows 30 and Tyler Keitel 28. Jackson Nelson finished with 27 touches for West Coast and Callum Jamieson 22 to go with 28 hit outs.
Following Round 14 of the WAFL season, top spot on the ladder changed hands once again with West Perth returning to that position with a 10-3 record to be a game and percentage ahead of the chasing pack.
That's where things get really interesting. East Fremantle, South Fremantle and Claremont are all hot on the heels of West Perth with 9-4 records with the Sharks ahead of the Bulldogs and Tigers just courtesy of percentage.
Swan Districts kept hold of fifth position with their win on Saturday with an 8-5 record.
Peel Thunder has a better percentage than the two teams in front of them but they are a game outside of fifth position at 7-6 with East Perth still in the finals mix at 6-7 despite Saturday's loss.
The finals hopes of Subiaco (4-9), Perth (2-11) and West Coast Eagles (1-12) are now forlorn.
There are four matches in Round 14 of the WAFL this Saturday afternoon with Claremont taking on Swan Districts, and South Fremantle hosting West Perth in two season defining match ups between top five teams.
East Perth will also take on Peel Thunder in another fascinating match up between two teams trying to stay in the finals race while East Fremantle plays Perth at the WACA Ground.
WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 14
SUBIACO 4.4 (28) lost to CLAREMONT 5.5 (35)
Claremont continued its rejuvenated form by winning a hard fought battle over Subiaco on Saturday to consolidate their top five spot and stay in touch for a finals double chance.
It was a tough slog for both teams at Leederville Oval on Saturday afternoon but Claremont kicked the only two goals of the second term and were in control the rest of the way.
The Tigers ended up winning 5.5 (35) to 4.4 (28) which saw them improve to a 9-4 record on the season to remain only percentage now out of second position.
It was another dagger blow to the finals prospects of the reigning premiers Subiaco who have now lost four in-a-row to be struggling at 4-9.
With the rain tumbling down at Leederville Oval and plenty of water and mud swamping the ground, it was a slog from the outset and as a result it took almost 19 minutes for the first goal of the game.
That came courtesy of Subiaco's Harry Marsh. Claremont then responded just two minutes later through big man Kieran Gowdie and scores were all square by quarter-time.
Scoring remained a challenge in the conditions in the second quarter and there was just the two goals kicked once again. This time they were both courtesy of the Tigers with Jack Buller and Jye Bolton responsible and that meant Claremont led by 12 points at the major break.
It took until the nine-minute mark for Buller to kick his second goal of the day for Claremont to stretch the lead to 19 points before Subiaco finally kicked a second goal as a team for the game shortly after thanks to Brandon Matera.
The Tigers were still in front by 14 points at three quarter-time which then became 20 at the start of the fourth term with a goal to Timm House.
Subiaco did kick the last two goals of the game thanks to Ben Sokol but Claremont were never seriously threatened and went on to score the 5.5 (35) to 4.4 (28) win.
Jack Buller continued his good form up forward for Claremont despite the challenging conditions to kick another two goals from 14 touches and five marks.
Ryan Lim continued the best and most consistent season of his 143-game career with Claremont by amassing another 32 possessions, five tackles and four marks.
Jye Bolton also finished with 26 touches for the Tigers, Ronin O'Connor 25 along with 10 tackles, Ben Edwards 25, Declan Mountford 22, Lachlan Martinis 21, Callan England 21 and Bailey Rogers 17 to go with 10 tackles.
Oliver Eastland produced a strong performance in the ruck made up of 14 possessions, 44 hit outs and nine tackles.
Ben Sokol kicked the last two goals of the game for Subiaco to take his tally to 29 on the season to remain in the lead in the race for the Bernie Naylor Medal.
Lewis Putt fought hard in the ruck for Subiaco with 19 touches, 22 hit outs and five tackles in the continued absence of five-time premiership hero Lachlan Delahunty.
Stefan Giro also finished with 22 possessions for the Lions, Leigh Kitchin 21, Liam Hickmott 21, Jordan Snadden 18, Angus Dewar 18, Wil Hickmott 18 and Galen Savigni 18.
PERTH 7.7 (49) lost to PEEL THUNDER 11.13 (79)
Peel Thunder was able to come back from trailing at half-time to kick eight goals to three in the second half to beat Perth on Saturday by 30 points and stay in the finals race.
Perth came into the clash at Mineral Resources Park trying to avoid a 10th consecutive loss and while the Demons didn’t kick a goal in the first quarter, they did kick four in the second term to go into half-time leading the Thunder by a point.
Peel was fighting to stay in the finals hunt, though, and combined with Fremantle-listed players trying to break back into the Dockers' AFL team as well, and the Thunder worked their way on top in the second half.
Peel ended up kicking eight goals to three after half-time to end up winning 11.13 (79) to 7.7 (49).
That improved the Thunder to a 7-6 record on the season to remain just a game outside the top five while Perth is now 2-11 having lost 10 straight.
Perth has been ravaged by injury and coming into Saturday's game they were without Andrew Fisher, Brayden Ainsworth, Michael Sinclair, Fraser McInnes, Kristian Cary, Brodie Gray, Conor McPartland and Clayton Giblett who would all be considered well in their best 22.
It was Peel who got the better of the start away from home with the game's first goal thanks to Blair Bell at the 10-minute mark.
That would prove the only goal of the first quarter in the tough conditions but the rain let up a little in the second term and both teams benefited to combine for six goals.
While Darcy Tucker got the first of the quarter to push the Thunder lead out to 15 points, it was Perth who worked their way on top the rest of the way with four of the last five goals heading into the half-time break.
It started when Harry Quartermaine kicked the Demons' first goal at the 12-minute mark and then after Ethan Hughes responded for the Thunder, goals for Perth to Sam Stubbs, Quartermaine and Austin Davis saw them nab the one-point lead.
Peel regained the lead to start the third quarter with a second of the afternoon to Bell and then the Thunder broke away with further goals to Ben Middleton, Hughes and Middleton again to hold a match-winning 20-point lead at the last change.
The game opened up once again in the fourth quarter with seven goals kicked but Perth couldn’t get back any closer than 14 points with Peel going on to score the crucial 11.13 (79) to 7.7 (49) win to keep their season alive.
Darcy Tucker, Blair Bell, Ben Middleton and Ethan Hughes all kicked two goals apiece for Peel.
Those two goals were part of a best on ground performance from Tucker who also finished with 32 possessions, eight inside 50s, seven marks and five tackles.
It was a new role in the forward-line as well for Hughes and he thrived with those two goals along with 21 touches and seven marks.
Mitch Crowden amassed another 32 possessions for the Thunder, Nathan Wilson 28, Neil Erasmus 22, Karl Worner 22, Matt Johnson 18 and ruckman Lloyd Meek 18 to go with 32 hit outs.
Harry Quartermaine continued his impressive debut season in attack for Perth kicking another two goals to now have 10 goals since his Round 8 debut.
Matt Taylor finished with 24 possessions across half-back for Perth while Haydn Busher gathered 24 disposals, Corey Byrne 21, Sam Perkusich 20 and ruckman Dakota Baldwin-Wright 16 along with 20 hit outs.
EAST FREMANTLE 5.4 (34) lost to SOUTH FREMANTLE 9.13 (67)
The stage was set for East Fremantle to break its six-year derby drought against South Fremantle on Saturday at the WACA Ground, but the Bulldogs had other ideas.
The Sharks were hoping a new derby venue might change their luck on Saturday with the Fremantle rivals playing for just the third ever time at the WACA Ground, and the first time since the 1917 Grand Final.
The Bulldogs had won the past 13 derbies in-a-row coming into the match up dating back to 2016 but the signs were there that this could be the day for the Sharks with them entering Round 14 on top of the WAFL ladder.
However, for whatever reason South Fremantle just has quite the hold over East Fremantle right now and the Bulldogs dominated from the outset with the only three goals of the first quarter.
East Fremantle didn’t score in the first term and really, the Bulldogs were never seriously threatened the rest of the way and went on to win 9.13 (67) to 5.4 (34).
That made it 14 straight wins over their old foe and South Fremantle retained the Uittenbroek-Ciccotosto Cup in the first ever home and away season derby held at the WACA Ground.
As a result, both teams now sit on 9-4 records at the end of Round 14 with East Fremantle 3.11 per cent ahead of South Fremantle on the ladder with the Sharks second and Bulldogs third.
Having won 13 derbies in-a-row coming into the contest despite the new venue, it was a familiar start to the match with South Fremantle dominating the opening quarter which had to rock the confidence of East Fremantle against their old foe.
It started with an early goal to captain Dylan Main for the Bulldogs before he added a second almost 20 minutes later. Manfred Kelly then added another just before quarter-time with a clever snap and the Bulldogs led by 22 points having held the Sharks scoreless.
It was the worst possible start for an East Fremantle team attempting to beat South Fremantle for the first time in seven years.
Things didn’t get much better in the second quarter with a quick Bulldogs goal to big man Jimmy Miller and then Haiden Schloithe adding another to put them up 34 points at the 10-minute mark.
Eventually East Fremantle got its first goal of the game at the 12-minute mark of the second term thanks to Alex Montauban on what was their 11th inside-50 entry of the game.
However, it didn’t lead to any momentum with South Fremantle getting its next one courtesy of Kelly to go up by 36 points.
East Fremantle did get another just before half-time through Montauban but it was the Bulldogs in control by 29 points at the major break.
Eddie Simpson marked his East Fremantle debut following stints at Claremont and East Perth with a goal to start the second half after moving forward having started in the ruck.
But again the Sharks couldn’t get any momentum from it with Main's third goal the immediate answer for the Bulldogs. Milan Murdock did kick another for East Fremantle just before three quarter-time, but still South Fremantle was 25 points to the good.
South Fremantle made sure of the 14th consecutive derby win with a fourth goal to Main and then another to Nick Suban to start the fourth quarter before winning 9.13 (67) to 5.4 (34).
South Fremantle captain Dylan Main continued his love affair with stepping up in derbies by kicking four goals from 10 touches and four marks.
He could well be the forward target the Bulldogs have been missing this year and now has had three of his best goalkicking hauls of his career against the Sharks. He kicked a best of five back in 2018 while Saturday was the second time he's kicked four goals against East Fremantle.
Manfred Kelly also kicked two goals for South Fremantle from three kicks and three tackles to make the most of his chances and apply some good pressure.
Haiden Schloithe is in a purple patch of form as well for the Bulldogs 194 games into his WAFL career. He was outstanding again on Saturday with 28 possessions, 15 tackles and a goal.
Glenn Byron stepped up impressively for South Fremantle too to finish with 23 touches while Tom Blechynden had 21 disposals and eight tackles, Steve Verrier 18 possessions and six tackles, Jarrad Doney 17 touches and eight tackles, and milestone man Zac Strom 17 touches and six marks.
Hamish Free produced a dominant performance in the ruck with 13 touches and 56 hit outs while down back, South Fremantle again only conceded five goals with Noah Storm holding Jonathon Marsh goalless among the standout performers.
Alex Montauban kicked three goals for East Fremantle including their first two of the game in the second quarter.
Kyle Baskerville battled hard in the midfield for the Sharks with 29 touches and 13 tackles while Cam Eardley finished with 21 disposals, Milan Murdock 19, Michael Tassone 17 and Jackson McDonald 15.
SWAN DISTRICTS 10.7 (67) defeated EAST PERTH 6.8 (44)
It was an old-fashioned eight-point game at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday and it was Swan Districts who proved too strong for East Perth to end up winning by 23 points.
Coming into the clash at Bassendean, Swans were clinging to fifth position at 7-5 while the Royals had strung together their best patch of form of the season with three straight wins to be 6-6.
So the winner of Saturday's match up was always going to be above the other on the ladder by the end of Round 14, and it was Swan Districts who started strongly with four goals to one in the opening quarter.
They were able to remain in control the rest of the way to end up winning 10.7 (67) to 6.8 (44) to maintain their hold on fifth position, and to move two games clear now of the Royals.
East Perth came into the game in their best patch of form of the season and needed to keep winning to stay in the finals hunt, and as a result the Royals started well with the game's first goal through Hamish Brayshaw.
They had the first four scoring shots but couldn’t add another goal before Swan Districts dominated the rest of the first quarter with goals to Tom Edwards, two to Seb Bright and another to Ryan Kemp to be 18 points in front by quarter-time.
Jackson Ramsay got East Perth back in touch with a goal early in the second term but Swan Districts remained in control with the next four goals in the space of 12 minutes, with two each to Chris Jones and Lachlan Riley.
Swans were still 29 points in front by half-time despite a late goal to the Royals from Tom Medhat.
The wet weather made scoring challenging in the third quarter and as a result there was only one goal kicked and that went the way of Swans with Jones adding his third of the afternoon.
East Perth did get a burst of momentum late in the fourth quarter with three goals in six minutes to breathe some brief life into a fight back getting back within 17 points.
However, it wasn’t to be and Swans kicked the last goal of the game through Riley with his third and ended up winning 10.7 (67) to 6.8 (44).
Lachlan Riley and Chris Jones both kicked three goals apiece for Swan Districts with Riley's coming from his 13 touches and nine tackles while Jones made the most of his chances from his three kicks.
Seb Bright also kicked two goals for the black-and-whites to go with four marks and four tackles.
It turned out to be an afternoon for some big numbers to be racked up by the midfielders and Aidan Clarke continued his brilliant form for Swan Districts with another 37 possessions, 10 marks and seven inside 50s.
The league's leading ball winner Jesse Turner also had another 37 touches while Brandon Erceg was outstanding down back with 28 touches and eight marks.
Jarvis Pina also finished with 25 disposals, eight marks and five tackles with Tobe Watson contributing 24 possessions, Sam Fisher 21, Tony Notte 21 and Josh Cipro 19 with Nathan Ireland putting up 16 touches and 10 hit outs in the ruck.
There were only single goalkickers for East Perth but they had some big ball winners with Angus Schumacher amassing another 41 possessions to go with eight marks, five inside 50s, four tackles and a goal.
Hamish Brayshaw amassed another 31 touches for the Royals, Angus Scott 28, Jackson Ramsay 26 and Jack Cooley 19 while Scott Jones finished with 14 disposals and 47 hit outs in the ruck.
WEST COAST EAGLES 4.9 (33) lost to WEST PERTH 12.18 (90)
It was a cold and wet night at Mineral Resources Park, and it proved another evening to forget for the West Coast Eagles with West Perth holding them goalless for three quarters on the way to an eventual 57-point win.
West Perth dominated the contest from the outset with four goals to one behind in the first quarter and the lead continued to build up to the 68-point mark at three quarter-time with the Eagles still goalless.
West Coast ended up kicking four goals in the last term but it didn’t make a difference to the end result with West Perth cruising to the 12.18 (90) to 4.9 (33) victory.
As a result, the Falcons return to top spot in the WAFL a game clear of the chasing pack with a 10-3 record. West Coast remains in last spot at 1-12.
The second half of the Mineral Resources Park double-header was greeted by some wet and cold conditions as the lights took over and it took almost 11 minutes for the first goal which was kicked by West Perth's Conal Lynch.
The Falcons didn’t take long to virtually put the result beyond doubt by quarter-time on the back of a couple of first quarter goals from 100-gamer Rudy Riddoch and another to Lynch to see the lead out to 26 points already.
After both teams combined for eight behinds to start the second quarter, eventually West Perth kicked another goal at the 19-minute mark through Keegan Knott.
Mitch Dobson then added another and the lead was 44 points at half-time with West Coast having just three behinds on the board.
It was more of the same in the third quarter with West Coast remaining without a goal kicking just four points with the Falcons adding goals from Knott, Lynch, Riddoch and then Tyson Moulton to see their lead grow to 68 points at the last change.
Eventually the Eagles did get their first goal of the game through Zac Langdon four minutes into the last term.
Hugh Dixon soon added another and they ended up kicking four goals to two in the quarter, but it mattered little with West Perth cruising to the 12.18 (90) to 4.9 (33) win to return to top spot in the WAFL after Round 14.
Conal Lynch delivered the standout performance so far of his 54-game with West Perth by kicking four goals to go with 26 possessions, six marks and four tackles.
Rudy Riddoch stepped up for his best game of the season as well for the Falcons kicking three goals and it just happened to coincide as he celebrated his 100th WAFL appearance made up of 32 games with Swans and 68 with West Perth dating back to his 2012 debut.
Keegan Knott also kicked two goals from 10 kicks to give him 25 goals now for the season.
Shane Nelson had another terrific performance in the midfield for West Perth in his 201st game with 32 possessions and four tackles while Luke Meadows gathered 30 disposals, Mitch Peirce 27, Aaron Black 25, Tyson Moulton 21, Ben Johnson 19 and Mitch Dobson 19.
West Coast's goals came courtesy of Zac Langdon, Hugh Dixon, Harry Creasey and Josh Burke.
Jackson Nelson put his hand up for an AFL call up at West Coast by collecting 27 possessions while Callum Jamieson was impressive in the ruck with 22 touches and 28 hit outs.
Patrick Naish also gathered 22 disposals, Josh Browne 22, Sam Petrevski-Seton 20, Greg Clark 20 and Harry Creasey 20.