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FALCONS VETERANS SHINE IN THRILLING WIN OVER TIGERS

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 1:31 PM by Chris Pike
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ANDREW Strijk has now kicked 13 goals in his past two WAFL games inspiring West Perth to another thrilling win over Claremont on Saturday but it took a fingertip effort from fellow veteran Chris Keunen to deny the Tigers the winning goal at Claremont Oval.
 
The recent history between the two clubs was remarkable already entering Saturday's clash at Claremont Oval and it certainly continued.
 
West Perth had won six of the previous seven meetings with Claremont but four of those had only been by a combined 13 points and ever since the Tigers beat the Falcons by 119 points in Round 18, 2012, every game between the two teams had been decided by 10.6 points.
 
So the stage was set for a thriller on Saturday with plenty at stake for both clubs and no more than 14 points separated them the entire afternoon.
 
That was the lead West Perth held after a Tyler Keitel goal at the 16-minute mark of the third quarter but it was always set up for a thrilling finish.
 
A goal to Haydn Busher at the 25-minute mark of the last term made the margin a point and then minutes later it was second-gamer Kaiden Gilbert trying to kick his fifth goal of the day and the winner for the Tigers.
 
His shot was on target too but just touched by 197-game veteran West Perth ruckman Chris Keunen on the goal line and the Falcons would hold on for the 9.8 (62) to 8.13 (61) victory.
 
It was an important win for West Perth too who improved to a 6-4 record as a result to remain clear in third position on the ladder.
 
Andrew Strijk last played for West Perth back in Round 7 when he kicked a career-best eight goals in a big win over East Fremantle. He returned to the Falcons team on Saturday and by early in the third term, had kicked another five goals and finished with 15 possessions and 10 marks.
 
Triple Breckler Medal winner Shane Nelson racked up another 34 possessions while Aaron Black finished with 31 disposals, Luke Meadows 27 (nine tackles), Trent Manzone 27 (six marks, six inside 50s), Blake Wilhelm 19 and Mitch Peirce 19 (nine tackles).
 
Chris Keunen had a solid game in the ruck with 12 touches and 28 hit outs as well as the match-saving touch on the goal line.
 
West Perth's back-line held up strongly including a good defensive role from Zac Guadagnin who kept Claremont's captain Ian Richardson in check in his 200th WAFL appearance. Ben King also had nine disposals and eight tackles in another strong defensive display.
 
It took less than a minute for Andrew Strijk to make his mark on return for West Perth having missed the last couple of games since his eight-goal haul against East Fremantle.
 
He kicked a goal in less than a minute to start the game and then added a second at the four-minute mark to give the Falcons a flying start before Kaiden Gilbert got Claremont on the board.
 
West Perth responded to that with another veteran, Jay van Berlo, kicking truly following his own five-goal haul the previous week against Peel Thunder. Claremont got a second goal of the opening term through Gilbert but West Perth was still up by six points at quarter-time.
 
It took 18 minutes for either side to manage a goal in the second quarter and when it came it was courtesy of Claremont captain Ian Richardson who was celebrating game No. 200. That put the Tigers in front by three points but immediately Strijk responded for West Perth.
 
Gilbert then hit back for the Tigers with his third goal of the first half before Strijk's fourth ensured the Falcons went into the half-time break with a four-point advantage.
 
By six minutes into the third term, Strijk had five goals and West Perth was up by nine points before a Claremont response courtesy of Gilbert for his fourth. Combined the pair had nine of the game's 11 goals to that point.
 
Consecutive goals to Steve Potente and Tyler Keitel soon had the Falcons out to a game-high 14-point lead but the Tigers weren’t going anywhere and responded through Alex Manuel and Keifer Yu to be within two points at three quarter-time.
 
West Perth captain Aaron Black put his team eight points up when he kicked truly before Haydn Busher goaled for Claremont at the 25-minute mark to make it a two-point game.
 
That set up the heart stopping finish with Gilbert's shot for goal just touched on the line by Chris Keunen and West Perth won by the solitary point.
 
Claremont's reserves came away with a strong 16.16 (112) to 6.4 (40) victory at Claremont Oval on Saturday against West Perth.
 
Conal Lynch and Dylan Yem kicked two goals apiece for West Perth.
 
Matt Guadagnin closed in on a league return for the Falcons with 26 possessions while Lynch gathered 23 disposals, Lachlan Johns 21, Dean Munns 20 (seven tackles), Kael Coleman 20, Max Alexander 17 and Tyson Moulton 17.
 
The day got underway on Saturday at Claremont Oval with a colts thriller between Claremont and West Perth to set the stage for what was to follow later on in the league fixture.
 
West Perth made an impressive start up against a Claremont team that is a regular fixture as a strong colts group having reached the past five Grand Finals.
 
The Falcons kicked three goals to one in the first quarter to lead by 11 points at quarter-time. But the Tigers held them goalless in the second term while kicking three goals themselves to lead by seven points at the long break.
 
It was a goal apiece in the third term with Claremont still holding an eight-point lead at three quarter-time before West Perth finished strongly with three goals to two in the last quarter
 
But it was the Tigers who did enough to hold on for the 7.9 (51) to 7.7 (49) victory.
 
Ben Johnson, Nathan Murray, Eamon Gilbert, Jamie Dowen, Zak Patterson, Tyron Hindmarsh and Callum Johnson all kicked a goal apiece for West Perth.
 
Murray delivered a big performance for the Falcons colts with 34 possessions, five marks, five inside 50s and four tackles with Jaxon Prior finishing with 32 disposals, seven marks and five inside-50 entries.
 
Tom Medhat gathered 23 possessions, Jack Burke 17, Brayden Templeton 15 and Hindmarsh 15. Gilbert had 17 touches, 26 hit outs, four marks and four tackles along with his goal.
 
West Perth is back to Joondalup Arena this Saturday to host a Perth team in some good form and knocking on the door of the top five despite the Falcons winning 14 in-a-row against the Demons.
 
WEST PERTH 3.2 5.3 8.6 9.8 (62)
CLAREMONT 2.2 4.5 7.10 8.13 (61)
 
WEST PERTH – Goals: Strijk 5; Black, van Berlo, Potente, Keitel.
Best: Strijk, Nelson, Meadows, Manzone, Black, Peirce, Wilhelm.
CLAREMONT – Goals: Gilbert 4; Yu, Richardson, Busher, Manuel.
Best: Mitchell, Curren, Bolton, Gilbert, Busher, Winmar, Rogers.