Monday, September 17, 2018 - 3:06 PM

By Darrell Kent

Regardless of the result in the Grand Final next Sunday Falcons supporters cannot help but admire the performance of the League team this year. Written off by many at the start of the year and defeated by ninety eight points by the Bulldogs two weeks ago the players staged a remarkable effort to book a Grand Final berth with a twenty six point victory against South Fremantle. Their pressure all day was a sight to behold as they forced their more fancied rivals to make a number of errors while West Perth managed to take advantage of the opportunities that came their way.

It was obvious from the first bounce that the Falcons were up and about and determined to prove that the last result against the Bulldogs was not a true indication of what they were capable of.  Luke Meadows, who played a wonderful game, scored a behind at the two minute mark. West Perth did not relinquish the lead all day. Six minutes later Chris Keunen scored the first major after he marked fifteen out. He was on the end of some really good work by Mitch Peirce who impressed with his ability to push the ball forward all day. He is the find of the season. Dylan Main got one back for Souths but it was to be their only major for the term. West Perth dominated play but their reward didn’t come until later in the quarter. A good pass by Aaron Black hit Keegan Knott on the chest twenty five out on an acute angle. He finished accurately and the energy that he brings to the West Perth forward line is very important. At the twenty two minute mark a Bulldogs defensive error saw Tyler Keitel mark thirty out. His straight kick gave West Perth a twelve point lead. Rudy Riddoch, who was a late inclusion when Steve Potente was injured in the warm up, received a free for a high tackle fifty out and his long kick extended the lead even more. At the end of the first quarter the Falcons led by nineteen; 4.2 (26) to 1.1 (7). They had certainly given the home team plenty to think about.

The second quarter produced more of the same with West Perth outscoring South Fremantle five goals to one. To keep the Bulldogs to just two majors in the first half was a terrific effort. At the five minute mark the West Perth pressure was evident when, once again, a poor Bulldogs kick out of defence hit Aaron Black on the chest forty out. His accurate kick increased the margin to twenty five. South Fremantle had the next three scoring shots and reduced the margin to seventeen. Mason Shaw kicked the only Bulldogs major for the term during this time. The Falcons victory was set up during the second part of this quarter as they maintained their pressure to kick four more goals. Connor West showed a touch of class when he marked and finished from forty five. He is certainly a player of the future. Some great work by Keegan Knott and Jay van Berlo saw the ball kicked forward to Andrew Strijk who out-marked two opponents to kick the first of his four majors. He is in rare form. At the twenty eight minute mark the lead was out to thirty five when “VB” scored from twenty. He received a free after Keegan Knott was pushed after kicking the ball forward. Four minutes later Corey Chalmers marked fifty out after some good work by Jay van Berlo. The siren went before he took his kick but he put it through to give West Perth a forty one point lead; 9.4 (58) to 2.5 (17). It was as good a half of football as the Falcons had played all year and the challenge was well and truly in front of South Fremantle.

The Bulldogs were always going to mount a comeback and this occurred in the third term. They attacked consistently but only managed to reduce the margin to thirty five by the twelve minute mark. Shortly after Andrew Strijk became the first Falcon multiple goal scorer when he finished after marking on fifty. South Fremantle kicked the next two to reduce the margin to twenty nine before Blake Wilhelm scored an important goal. He intercepted a Bulldogs kick out of defence, ran to forty and finished accurately to help the Falcons regain some momentum. Danger man, Marlion Pickett, got one back for the Bulldogs just before the three quarter time to reduce the lead to twenty nine at the final change. West Perth led 11.7 (73) to 6.8 (44).

South Fremantle seemed to have momentum going into the last quarter and they did finish the best but inaccurate finishing did them no favours. They scored three goals nine to West Perth’s four goals straight. It is fair to say that if they had kicked accurately Falcons supporters would have had a nervous finish to the game. The Bulldogs had the first four scoring shots and as a result reduced the margin to twenty after five minutes. Seven minutes later Mitch Peirce showed some real class when he snapped from twenty after taking the ball off hands. This gave West Perth some breathing space. The Bulldogs pressure continued but at the eighteen minute mark the Falcons had a touch of luck. Rudy Riddoch showed a touch of class on the boundary to take possession. He attempted to pass to “Strijky” who was near the square but the ball just cleared him and took a right hand bounce to go through for his second. This took the lead to twenty nine and enabled West Perth supporters to relax a little. Andrew Strijk kicked his third and fourth majors after a bullet like pass from Trent Manzone and a long kick forward by Mitch Peirce. South Fremantle kicked the last two with the last goal going to Ashton Hams after the siren. It was fitting that he kicked this as it was his last game.  He has been a wonderful WAFL and South Fremantle player. At the final siren West Perth had prevailed by twenty six; 15.7 (97) to 9.17 (71).

It would be fair to say that it was an unexpected win but it is a tribute to all involved in the Football Department at West Perth. The players and coaching staff should be really proud of what this playing group has achieved. All players contributed including Tyson Moulton, who was a late call up for Ben King who was ill, and Rudy Riddoch. Tyson took some very good marks while playing in defence. Best players included Luke Meadows, Mike Lourey, Mitch Peirce, Aaron Black and Andrew Strijk. A tough Grand Final assignment against the undefeated Subiaco next week. If your heart beats true be there to cheer on the Falcons.