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EFFICIENT FALCONS IN STUNNING FINISH TO MAKE FINALS

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 - 7:07 AM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth produced a stunning finish on an afternoon where it was accurate and efficient to end up beating Claremont by four points at Claremont Oval to make the finals in 2017.
 
Claremont and West Perth have played in a string of remarkably tight and tense games in recent years with precious little separating the two teams and no love lost from them out on the field either.
 
So with the potential of a finals position being at stake on Saturday at Claremont Oval the stage was set for a tantalising and tense contest from start to finish.
 
Claremont opened an early 23-point lead kicking four of the game's first five goals and the Tigers remained in control and West Perth took its first lead of the game courtesy of two Andrew Strijk goals in the first three minutes of the final term.
 
West Perth's lead soon grew to 13 points with a goal to Tyler Keitel but Claremont responded with the next three majors in the space of nine minutes to be nine points in front again.
 
But West Perth key forward Michael Lourey had his best game of the season kicking two of his four goals for the day to close the game for the Falcons with the 12.6 (78) to 10.14 (74) victory when a much talked about play-on call was made on a Blake Wilhelm tackle on Claremont small forward CJ Oakley.
 
With East Perth losing to Subiaco at the same time at Leederville Oval, it meant that the win sees West Perth replace the Royals in fifth position and to enter the finals for 2017. 
 
As a result, East Perth and Claremont missed out but percentage would have meant the Tigers missed playing finals anyway even if the free-kick was paid to Oakley and he kicked the goal. But it would have meant East Perth and not West Perth played finals.
 
West Perth now finishes in fifth position with a 10-10 record on the season ahead of Sunday's elimination final against Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval.
 
Claremont will be kicking itself for not taking advantage of its control of the game having finished with 78 more disposals than the Falcons, 67 more marks, 23 extra inside-50 entries and the 24 scoring shots to 18.
 
For a rare time this season it was West Perth who was the more efficient team and the more accurate in front of goal. It is just the seventh time this season that the Falcons have kicked more goals than behinds in a game.
 
Michael Lourey came up huge for the Falcons kicking four goals from nine kicks and five marks.
 
Andrew Strijk also booted three crucial goals for West Perth to go with 21 touches with Tyler Keitel adding two.
 
Shane Nelson collected another 28 possessions for West Perth with Aaron Black celebrating his 150th game to become a life member at the Falcons with 27 disposals, six marks and five tackles.
 
Blake Wilhelm also had it 18 times for the Falcons, Corey Chalmers 17, Trent Manzone 15 and Kody Manning.
 
Despite West Perth getting a goal at the seven-minute mark from Dean Munns, it was Claremont who started strongly in the must-win contest with majors to Ian Richardson, Ryan Lim and Matt Guelfi in the first 13 minutes.
 
By the time Beau Maister kicked truly at the 26-minute mark, the lead was out to 23 points but the Falcons crucially kicked two goals before quarter-time thanks to Michael Lourey and Andrew Strijk to trail by just 11 points.
 
Lourey then got his second of the day 15 minutes into the second quarter to bring West Perth within six points but Claremont led by 13 at the main break following a major to CJ Oakley.
 
The Tigers again threatened to pull away when leading by 20 points following goals to Richardson and Matthew Palfrey in the third term. But West Perth stayed in touch to be just seven points behind at the last change after goals to Corey Chalmers and Trent Manzone.
 
That set the stage for the fascinating last quarter with a finals spot potentially on the line with the way Subiaco was taking care of East Perth at Leederville Oval.
 
West Perth made the move first with two goals to Strijk in the first three minutes and then another to Keitel shortly after. That had the Falcons in front for the first time in the game and the advantage was out to 13 points after Keitel's goal.
 
But Palfrey, Guelfi and Maister all combined in the space of nine minutes for goals to Claremont to put the Tigers eight points up again heading into time-on. But the Falcons responded with two goals to Lourey to again lead and then hold on to win by four points in the frantic finish.
 
It was a tough finish to the season for West Perth's colts against a strong Claremont team with the Tigers winning 18.16 (124) to 5.6 (36) at Claremont Oval.
 
Lachlan Johns kicked two of West Perth's five goals for the contest.
 
Connor West gathered 35 possessions for the Falcons, Oscar Allen 28 (10 tackles, seven marks, one goal), Nathan Murray 22, Bailey Chalmers 16, Thomas Medhat 16 and Thomas Boyes 15. Slade Hawkins also had 25 hit outs.
 
West Perth's colts end the 2017 season in eighth position with an 8-12 record.
 
Claremont's reserves geared up for their finals campaign with a strong victory over West Perth at Claremont Oval, winning 17.7 (109) to 5.8 (38).
 
Rudy Riddoch kicked two goals for West Perth from 15 possessions while Chris Keunen performed well in the ruck with 16 disposals, 24 hit outs and a goal.
 
Baylee James collected 21 possessions and laid 11 tackles for the Falcons while Max Alexander gathered 21 disposals, Josh Hatch 18, Conal Lynch 18, Mitch Peirce 17, Riley Hutchinson 15, Dylan Campbell 15 and Zac Guadagnin 15.
 
West Perth's reserves finish the season in eighth position with a 6-14 record.
 
CLAREMONT 4.5 5.9 7.11 10.14 (74)
WEST PERTH 3.0 4.2 7.4 12.6 (78)
 
CLAREMONT – Goals: Richardson, Guelfi, Palfrey, Maister 2; Oakley, Lim.
Best: J Murphy, Busher, Richardson, Lim, Hardisty, Banfield, Guelfi, Andrews.
WEST PERTH – Goals: Lourey 4; Strijk 3; Keitel 2; Chalmers, Manzone, Munns.
Best: Black, Shane Nelson, Strijk, Rodda, Lourey, Wilhelm, Munns.