Monday, September 10, 2018 - 10:45 AM

By Darrell Kent

West Perth could not have been more impressive in their fifty three point victory over Claremont at The Arena on Sunday. The Falcons kicked the first goal within two minutes and were never headed in what was one of their best performances for the year. From the first bounce West Perth exerted tremendous pressure on their rivals and as a result they controlled the play to look the better side for most of the day. There will need to be a repeat performance next week when they return to Fremantle Oval to take on the Bulldogs in an encounter that will decide who takes on Subiaco in the Grand Final.

The first quarter set the tone for the day as the Falcons dominated play. Tyler Keitel kicked the first of his four after marking forty five out. He was an important target all day. Two minutes later Jay van Berlo passed to Andrew Strijk who scored the first of his two from forty. It was a bright start from the Falcons. Claremont replied when Alexander Manuel kicked the first of his three but a Falcon reply came shortly after. Aaron Black, who had another outstanding game, snapped one from twenty. This was after some terrific forward line pressure. The hectic start to the game continued when Ryan Lim got one back for the Tigers. The margin was six at the eleven minute mark but from here West Perth controlled the play and their efforts during this time went a long way towards setting up victory. They kicked the last four goals in an impressive display of pressure football. Behinds were the order of the day until the twenty one minute mark when Tyler Keitel scored his second after receiving a free twenty out. Seven minutes later Mitch Peirce kicked a wonderful goal out of a pack while under a lot of pressure. Shane Nelson scored one from the square after a scrimmage and Keegan Knott repeated the dose shortly after. “Nelly” once again had an impressive game and Keegan Knott continued his impressive vein of form. At the first change West Perth led by twenty nine; 7.2 (44) to 2.3 (15). It was a quality quarter of football.

More was to follow during the second term. A handball from Shane Nelson to Aaron Black helped him score his second from forty five shortly after the resumption of play. Keifer Yu then replied for Claremont after marking forty out. It was to be his final game for the Tigers and it was fitting that he hit the scoreboard. That was to be Claremont’s only goal for the quarter while the Falcons added three more to consolidate their first quarter lead. At the fourteen minute mark a clever knock on by Corey Chalmers helped Shane Nelson to kick his second. The lead was out to forty two when Tyler Keitel snapped out of a pack for his third and at the thirty two minute mark Keegan Knott hit the scoreboard for his second. He finished from forty on an angle. At the main break West Perth had established a lead that was going to be very hard to run down. They led by forty six; 11.3 (69) to 3.5 (23).

Claremont is too good a team not to respond to a disappointing first half and this was the case in the third quarter. They kicked the first major within two minutes only to see West Perth extend the lead with two of their own. Kris Shannon finished with a long kick after winning a free fifty out and Andrew Strijk scored from close in after a strong mark. He was on the end of a high kick forward by Nathan Alexandre after he spoiled strongly. A behind to Steve Potente at the eight minute mark saw the lead out to fifty three but it was the signal for a strong Tiger revival. They had the next seven scoring shots to reduce the margin to thirty one. If not for some inaccurate kicking the margin could have been much closer. West Perth finished the term with a behind to take a thirty two point lead into the final change; 13.5 (83) to 7.9 (51). The final term was set up for an interesting finish.

The Falcons weren’t to be denied, however, and they kicked the first three majors of the final quarter to put the game to rest. Jay van Berlo scored the first from the square after a kick forward by Andrew Strijk. VB still has a lot to offer and works really hard up forward. He was involved in the next when he passed the ball to Chris Keunen who hit Corey Chalmers on the chest as he ran towards goal. He finished on the run from fifty. At the thirteen minute mark Keegan Knott kicked his third after a very clever snap following a great individual effort. The lead was now out to fifty three. From here both sides kicked three and this was to be the final margin. The Falcons goals went to Tyler Keitel who snapped his fourth out of a pack, Corey Chalmers kicked his second after a precise Connor West pass and it was fitting that Aaron Black kicked the final major, to score his third, after a Tyler Keitel pass. The final score was West Perth 19.9 (123) to Claremont 10.10 (70).

It was a most impressive effort by West Perth and in complete contrast to the game against South Fremantle the week before. This very same challenge looms large next Sunday. There were a number of very good Falcons players but none better than Aaron Black. His ability to lead by example is outstanding. Shane Nelson, Luke Meadows, Keegan Knott and Dean Munns were also strong contributors. The tackling of Mike Lourey when he was in the ruck was also a feature. A return bout with the Bulldogs on Sunday; be there to support the team.