Monday, September 23, 2019 - 9:40 AM

West Perth recorded a terrific victory against Claremont in the Reserves Grand Final on Sunday. They had struggled against the Tigers during the year but turned that around in a performance that was highlighted by a strong tackling effort. This was shown by the fact that West Perth laid sixty-five tackles up to half time and finished the game with 103 to Claremont’s 64.

This Reserves Flag which is the third in the last fifty-nine years. The victory was a credit to coach, Blake Arnold, his coaching staff of Todd Martin and Phil Johnson and the players. The commitment of the group was best highlighted by Drew Blurton who selflessly withdrew from the team less than half an hour before the game because of a calf injury that wasn’t quite 100%. This was a real display of team first attitude and this resulted in Koopah Todd, the WAFL Colts fairest and best player, to make his senior debut in what turned out to be a winning Grand Final. Koopah showed he was up to the occasion playing a solid game finishing with 13 disposals and a goal.

The Falcons were on from the start of the game and had the first score on the board after five minutes. It was a major to Nathan Murray who received a free thirty out. The Tigers hit the scoreboard shortly after but the tight contest continued for the next ten minutes. At the sixteen minute mark Tom Medhat kicked the first of his two for the game. He marked thirty out and finished accurately. He was a key target all day and had a very good game. The lead was seven at this stage, and as was the case all day, goals proved hard to come by. The only other major went to Claremont and as a result West Perth led by two at the first change. It was a very tight quarter of football and it was vital that the Falcons kept in contact with their more fancied rivals early. The scores were 2.2 (14) to 2.0 (12).

The close contest continued in the second term. The Falcons probably had the better of it but couldn’t find the big opening. Their only major came at the twelve minute mark and it went to Brayden Antonio. He snapped on his left from thirty. He was amongst West Perth’s best on the day. Claremont scored three straight and as a result led by six at the main change. The scores were Claremont 5.0 (30) to West Perth 3.6 (24). The constant pressure applied by the Falcons caused their rivals to make mistakes but Claremont did take advantage of their opportunities.

After three minutes of the third quarter the lead was out to thirteen. Things were looking ominous for West Perth as the Tigers started to get some run through the middle. Koopah Todd kicked his first goal in senor football shortly after when he marked fifteen out. He was on the end of a long kick forward by Michael Ashfield. Alexander Manuel scored his second for Claremont to take the lead back out to thirteen but that was to be their last goal for the term. The hard running and tackling of the Falcons started to pay dividends as they controlled the rest of the quarter. Conal Lynch narrowed the margin with a terrific goal after taking possession outside fifty. He had a wonderful game and was the deserved winner of the Merv McIntosh Medal for best on ground. At the seventeen minute mark tough nut, Dylan Yem, soccered a goal to give West Perth back the lead by the narrowest of margins. Going into time on promising youngster, Jack Burke, scored after taking the ball off hands. The lead was now eight. The Falcons continued to attack but could only score behinds. They took a ten point lead into the final change; 7.11 (53) to 7.1 (43). They had more than double the number of scoring shots of their opponents but only led by ten straight points. Falcons supporters could only hope that this would not come back to hurt them.

West Perth continued their hot run into the final term. A second to Tom Medhat after some good work by skipper, Tom Boyes, and another to Brayden Antonio saw West Perth lead by twenty one at the nine minute mark. Conal Lynch had a hand in the second major. This was a fair bit of breathing space but you don’t only lose one game for the year unless you are a very good football team. Claremont dominated the rest of the quarter and had six consecutive scoring shots to reduce the margin to just five at the twenty four minute mark. The quarters only go for twenty eight minutes but it would be fair to say that Falcons supporters counted down each second. Claremont continued to attack but the West Perth defence held firm. At the twenty six minute mark Brayden Antonio scored a behind to make the difference one straight kick. Each contest was crucial and some timely marks by Slade Hawkins as well as a number of ball ups on the wing saw West Perth hang on to record a victory that was full of merit. The final scores were West Perth 9.12 (66) to 9.6 (60). The jubilation of the players and coaching staff was a sight to behold.

Most supporters would not have expected the win when taking into account the size of the previous two defeats. The fact that the players were able to get themselves up is a credit to all involved. Conal Lynch was judged best on ground, Brayden Antonio was close behind, Liam Tedesco battled hard all day, Tom Boyes led by example and Tyson Moulton was a beacon in defence. It was a real team performance and all 23 players contributed.

Congratulations to Aaron Black who won the WAFL Mark of the Year Award and Keegan Knott who was judged to kick the Goal of the Year. It was tremendous to see the support that all Senior players gave to the Reserves team and the way that they joined in the celebrations. The Grand Final win concluded a successful year for the Falcons. All teams played finals. The players now have a well-earned rest before it all begins again next year.