Monday, June 12, 2017 - 10:33 AM by Darrell Kent

IT was an important day in more ways than one at Steel Blue Oval on Sunday. West Perth was desperate for a win to move into third place and Andrew Strijk played his 200th game.

Strijk is a gifted footballer and a very popular team member. His teammates were keen to recognise his milestone with a win and they achieved this with a hard fought eight-point victory.

The game was in the balance until the dying minutes of the contest and the win has the Falcons one game clear in third spot. The club had a big day at Steel Blue with the colts and reserves recording solid victories as well.

The Falcons began the game by far the better and after five minutes had raced to an eight-point lead. The first major was the result of a goal on the run by key forward Tyler Keitel. He scored from 40m to kick the first of his four for the day. Tyler, along with Michael Lourey, had a big impact in the forward line all game. He also did some good work in the ruck in what was a very good performance from him.

Swans steadied to kick the next two and they took a four-point advantage midterm. Rudy Riddoch scored two behinds and was involved in the next goal that gave the Falcons back the lead. He handballed to Keitel who ran into an open goal for his second. This occurred at the nineteen-minute mark and gave West Perth a four-point lead.

The teams struggled for ascendancy and each side only managed a behind each before the quarter-time siren. When it went the visitors led by four; 2.5 (17) to 2.1 (13).

The second quarter was another dour struggle with only four goals being scored. The first five scores were all behinds with the Falcons kicking four of them. It wasn’t until the 15-minute mark that the first goal was kicked. It went to Luke Meadows who finished from 45m with a clever snap. The 13-point lead was extended by six shortly after when Blake Wilhelm scored. He received a free as a result of a rushed behind. The kick went through from deep in the pocket. Swans scored their only goal for the term going into time on and it went to young key forward, Brayden Noble. Keitel then kicked his third after crumbing the ball off hands and snapping accurately. This gave West Perth the 19-point lead that they took into half-time. They led 5.11 (41) to 3.4 (22).

Play had to open up after two tight quarters and this is what happened in the third. Nine goals were kicked as the Black Ducks stormed back into the contest. Todd Banfield, who had been well held up to half-time, kicked three majors for the home side to get them right back into it. He and Noble kicked one each within two minutes to narrow the margin to seven.

West Perth steadied kicking the next two courtesy of Lourey. He was on the end of some fine passes by Rudy Riddoch and Corey Chalmers respectively. Swans replied with the next two before Riddoch intercepted a pass across goals. He finished from close in. This gave West Perth a 12-point lead. It was a fast moving contest in the third quarter and Swans steadied to kick the next two so that at the twenty nine minute mark scores were all tied up and it really was game on.

The quarter went for 35 minutes and West Perth outscored Swans two points to one in the remaining time and as a result they took a one point lead into the final change; 8.14 (62) to 9.7 (61).

It was set up to be a classic final term and that proved to be the case. Matthew Rogers kicked his third to give Swans the lead for the first time since midway through the first quarter. A pass by Ben King hit Lourey on the chest 30m out. He went back and kicked his third to retrieve the lead for West Perth. This was short-lived, however, as Tony Notte kicked a fine goal from 50, wide out, to regain the Swan Districts lead.

At the 14-minute mark Riddoch’s skills were again on display. He took the ball off hands from a throw in and threaded one through to give the Falcons back their one-point advantage. It was a clever goal and his second for the game. Four minutes later Aaron Black received a free 30m out and he showed his composure to kick accurately to take the lead out to eight.

Some fine defensive running by Steve Potente set up the next goal. He helped carry the ball from the back pocket, got the ball to Shane Nelson who hit Keitel on the chest with a precise pass. Tyler went back and steered his fourth through from 40 metres. It was a very good kick under a lot of pressure. Banfield got one back for Swans at the 26-minute mark but when the siren went two minutes later West Perth had held on for an eight point victory; 12.17 (89) to 12.9 (81).

The leadership shown by the senior players, led by Jay van Berlo, during this quarter was outstanding.

The win gives West Perth a 7-3 record at the halfway point of the season. This is a result that would have to make Falcons supporters happy. Best players for West Perth included Tyler Keitel, Shane Nelson who had 40 touches, Aaron Black, Trent Manzone and Blake Wilhelm. Congratulations to the reserves and colts who both got back into the winners list, as well.

A big game against South Fremantle at HBF Arena Saturday. This encounter will really give us an idea as to where we are at because the less said about the last game the better. Be there to get the boys over the line.

PHOTOS BY BELINDA TAYLOR ... click here for the gallery of images from the weekend