Falcons fall just short - Darrell Kent

Monday, August 6, 2018 - 10:23 AM

By Darrell Kent

It would be fair to say that it was a cold and miserable day at Fremantle Oval on Saturday and this was reinforced by the narrow five point loss suffered by the Falcons. It was West Perth’s first defeat after having won their last three games. The highlight of the day for Falcons supporters was the 200th West Perth WAFL appearance by big man, Chris Keunen. This is a tremendous achievement and one that he and his family can be proud of. He battled hard all day and contributed strongly to the West Perth effort.

The first quarter didn’t reflect the wet weather and heavy conditions of the playing surface. Nine goals straight were scored in what was an entertaining beginning to the game. Mason Shaw hit the scoreboard first for the home team before Jay van Berlo replied shortly after. He took a strong mark twenty out. At the ten minute mark Corey Chalmers gave West Perth the lead when he soccered a major after a long kick forward. The ball was moving freely between both forward lines. The next ten minutes belonged to the Bulldogs, however, as they scored the next three majors and going into time on they led by two straight. The kicking for goal, in the conditions, was a real feature. As they have done all year the Falcons responded and kicked the next two. The first went to Keegan Knott who soccered his first after Corey Chalmers worked hard to get the ball forward. The class of Andrew Strijk was then on display when he marked twenty out on the boundary. He calmly went back and bananaed it through for the first of his three. “Strijky” is in rare form and playing as well as he ever has. Right on the siren Brandon Donaldson marked and scored from forty to give South Fremantle the quarter time lead; 5.0 (30) to 4.0 (24). It was the end of an entertaining quarter of football.

The second quarter was an indicator of what was to come. The game turned into a real slog with both teams doing whatever they could to move the ball forward. A behind and then a second to Andrew Strijk saw the Falcons grab a one point lead. The same scores to the home team saw the quarter time status quo restored. Chris Keunen then hit the scoreboard to tie the scores up at the seventeen minute mark. He snapped from the top of the square and it was fitting to see him score a major on his big day. Corey Chalmers and Andrew Strijk were instrumental in getting the ball into his hands. The Bulldogs kicked the last four behinds of the half and that is what they led by at the main break; 6.5 (41) to 6.1 (37).

Early in the third term South Fremantle extended their lead to eleven before the Falcons had their best passages of play for the day. They kicked three consecutive majors to lead by eight at the twenty one minute mark. The first of the run went to Keegan Knott who received a free twenty out. Corey Chalmers then kicked a clever major from deep in the pocket after receiving a free for a deliberate rushed behind. It is fair to say that it was a favourable call for the Falcons. The lead was out to eight when the hard working Aaron Black got the ball forward to Andrew Strijk who marked in the square to kick his third. “Blacky” has done a tremendous job all year and has certainly led by example. He is another player, along with Shane Nelson, who is in very good form. Matthew Parker got one back for the home team, just before the siren. In the context of the result this was a costly major. At the final change West Perth led by two; 9.3 (57) to 8.7 (55).

The final term was a real arm wrestle with neither side shirking the issue. The Bulldogs kicked the first two and midway through the term led by eleven. At the seventeen minute mark Rudy Riddoch scored his first after playing on when Jay van Berlo received a free forty out. This reduced the margin to just five and was to be the last score of the game. West Perth attacked consistently during the rest of the quarter but just couldn’t get the clean possession that they needed to secure the victory. The wet and cold conditions made it a hard day for the players but they tried very hard until the final siren. When it went the Bulldogs had prevailed 10.8 (68) to 10.3 (63).

The loss makes it very difficult for West Perth to hang onto second spot but they should finish third which will see a rematch at the same venue in a few weeks. The Falcons are certainly due for a win at the Port ground. The Colts had a strong win to sit just outside the five and the Reserves held on in a tight encounter to keep third spot. West Perth had a number of consistent performers including young defenders Nathan Alexandre and Zac Guadagnin. Their spoiling of the football was a feature. Aaron Black, Shane Nelson and Luke Meadows continued their hard work in the midfield. Aaron appears to be in better form than his Sandover Medal year. Mike Lourey continues to play good footy down back and Tyson Moulton worked hard around the ground. The effort of Andrew Strijk up forward was also a feature. A big game against flag favourites Subiaco next week. The day will also be a celebration of Club legend and now AFL Hall of Fame inductee Mel Whinnen. Be there to support the West Perth Football Club because it is a time that we all need to stick together and move the Club forward.