It is now upon us. The two best teams will collide on Sunday, September 24 at Domain Stadium.
East Fremantle, who finished top of the home-and-away ladder, will host second-placed Claremont in what will be a thrilling finale to a brilliant 2017 Colts’ season.
During the home-and-away season East Fremantle won all three games against Claremont by an average of just 16 points. Furthermore, in the second semi-final Tom Joyce (23 possessions, 6 marks, 5 tackles & 3 inside 50s) and Dillon O’Reilly (10 possessions & 5 goals) inspired the Sharks to a 15-point victory.
The Sharks have clearly been the best team all year, only dropping six games, and their average losing margin was just 11 points, while their average winning margin was 35 points.
However, their start to the campaign was shaky, losing their second game to Peel by 12 points, after only just overcoming Claremont by seven points. But then they clicked; they destroyed Perth by 55 points, Swan Districts by 53 points, South Fremantle by 49 points, West Perth by 82 points, East Perth by 48 points, and Subiaco by 18 points, from rounds four to ten. They hit a hurdle in the middle of the season, losing to South Fremantle by a point in round 11, and, despite a 17 point win against Claremont the following week, they dropped their next two games, to Perth (4 points) and Peel Thunder (27 points). They managed to sneak past East Perth by a point in round 15, but then they got ruthless. They dismantled Swan Districts by 83 points, Perth by 74 points, and defeated Subiaco by six points before losing to South Fremantle in round 20. They lost to Swan Districts by five points in round 23, but they overcame Claremont by 15 points in the second semi-final two weeks later.
Claremont on the other hand, are the reigning back-to-back premiers after defeating East Perth (2016) and Swan Districts (2015). What is even more remarkable is that this is their fifth consecutive grand final appearance.
However, their premiership defence was not looking well at the start of the year. By round 7 they had only mustered three wins – against Perth in round 3, East Perth in round 4, and South Fremantle in round 5 – and by round 14 they only had seven wins, but were sitting in third position. But like all good teams, they managed to find their merciless streak, winning six out of their remaining eight games by an average of 30 points, including a huge 88-point victory over West Perth in round 23. They lost to East Fremantle in the second semi-final, but they atoned in the preliminary final when they came from behind to snatch victory from East Perth to enter the Grand Final.
It will be a cracking game, and there will be several players from each team who can break the game open for their respective teams.
JACK BLAAUW | MIDFIELD | 175cm | 74kg
An over-ager, Blaauw will be looking for a big final game to cement himself into Claremont’s senior squad for 2018. A smaller midfielder, Blaauw uses his excellent aerobic capacity to cover the ground very well, and has the ability to burst away from stoppages making him a danger man in the midfield. In 15 games, he has kicked eight goals, and is averaging 22 possessions, three tackles and two marks.
LEWIS DAVIS | RUCK | 197cm | 82kg
The Borden FC product has had a stellar debut season for Claremont, and he will be a key figure if the Tigers are to be successful. He is ranked number five in the competition for hit outs (289 at an average of 13 per game), and is also averaging 14 possessions, four marks, and three tackles from 23 games. He comes into the Grand Final with good form after solid outings against East Fremantle in the Semi Final (13 possessions and 2 goals) and against East Perth in the Preliminary Final (11 possessions and 24 hit-outs).
CALLAN ENGLAND | MIDFIELD | 182cm | 73kg
Despite being one of the smaller midfielders of the competition, England is an elite player. In 13 games he averaged 28 possessions, five marks, three tackles and he has booted nine goals to win selection as the rover in the WAFL Colts Team of the Year. The AFL National Combine invitee has had a stellar finals campaign for the Tigers with dominant outings against Swan Districts (24 possessions, 6 tackles, 5 marks and 4 inside 50s), East Fremantle (26 possessions, 5 inside 50s, 4 marks and a goal), and East Perth (26 possessions, 6 marks, 6 inside 50s, 2 tackles and 2 goals). If England is able to use his explosive speed on the outside, he will be a serious threat to the Sharks.
JACK LEWSEY | HALF-BACK | 172cm | 73kg
The 2015 WA U16s representative has had a brilliant first season with the Tigers, which saw him finish runner-up to Perth’s Luke English for the Jack Clarke Medal. Stationed on the half-back line, Lewsey always brings energy to the Claremont line-up and has the ability to push into the midfield if required. In 20 games, he is averaging 20 possessions, seven tackles and four marks, and looms as an x-factor for the Tigers.
RYLIE MORGAN | MIDFIELD | 181cm | 80kg
One of the leading WA prospects for the 2018 AFL Draft, Morgan will be looking to have a dominant outing. The 2016 WA U16s Captain is a prolific ball winner – he averaged 26 possessions in 10 games – and has demonstrated he is a big game player in this year’s finals series. Against Swan Districts in the Qualifying Final, he accumulated 31 possessions, took 15 marks and booted two goals, while against East Fremantle in the Semi Final he gathered 26 possessions, took eight marks and laid four tackles.
JAKE PATMORE | MIDFIELD | 182cm | 79kg
The AFL Academy member will be looking for one big last outing to enhance his stocks for the AFL Draft. In 14 games, he is averaging 30 possessions, four marks and four tackles in a brilliant season that has seen him finish fourth in the Jack Clarke Medal, sixth in the WAFL Colts Coaches Award, and win selection in the WAFL Colts Team of the Year, stationed on the wing. His finals form has been excellent, averaging 26 possessions, five tackles and four marks across the three games. His classy skills, evasive tricks and willingness to take the game on, make him a dangerous player for the Tigers.
BRANDON COLLARD | GENERAL FORWARD | 188cm | 73kg
An explosive forward who can take the game by the scruff of the neck, Collard is the wildcard for the Sharks against the Tigers. In 12 games he has booted 15 goals and is averaging 12 possessions, four marks and two tackles, but his numbers don’t showcase his talents. He never shirks a contest on the football field, and his power and strength make him close to unstoppable in the forward half, and this was evident against Claremont in the semi-final when he accumulated 18 possessions, took six marks and booted a goal in a dazzling display.
THOMAS JOYCE | MIDFIELD | 179cm | 67kg
A member of the AFL Academy, Joyce has many admirers for his ferocious competitiveness on the football field. He showcased this at the U18 Championships when he averaged 21 possessions (10 contested), four tackles, four clearances, and three inside 50s. Since he came into the East Fremantle side from round 17, he has provided the Sharks with plenty of grunt work in the midfield. In the semi-final against the Tigers he recorded 23 possessions, six marks and five tackles to be one of the best players on the ground.
DILLON O’REILLY | KEY FORWARD | 193cm | 79kg
The most dominant forward in the competition, O’Reilly will be looking to stamp his authority as a potential first round pick for next year’s AFL Draft. He was the competition’s Leading Goalkicker with 39 goals and was named as the centre-half forward in the Team of the Year. In the second semi-final against Claremont he booted five goals from 10 possessions and a similar performance will attract even more attention for O’Reilly.
JAYDEN QUILL | MIDFIELD | 174cm | 70kg
The most consistent midfielder for East Fremantle this season, Quill is ready for the biggest game of the year. In 2017, Quill has averaged 21 possession, four tackles and three marks, and finished seventh in the WAFL Colts Coaches Award, eighth in the Jack Clarke Medal, and was named on the interchange in the WAFL Colts Team of the Year. He buries himself into packs, rips the ball out of the congestion and more often than not gets the ball forward for the Sharks.
CHRIS SCOTT | GENERAL DEFENDER | 193cm | 79kg
A member of this year’s WA U18s Academy, Scott will be looking for an influential game that will raise his draft stocks. For WA he only played two games, but he was able to showcase his talents with strong outings against the Allies (16 possessions & six marks) and against Vic Country when he held Gryan Miers goalless. For East Fremantle his form has been solid, culminating in him winning selection on the half-back line in the WAFL Colts Team of the Year.
NICK WATSON | RUCK | 194cm | 89kg
The 2016 WA U16s ruckman has proven that he is a top five ruckman in the competition in 2017. The Winnacott junior is tough in the air and has the ability to tap the ball down to his midfielders to win clearances. In 12 games he is averaging 11 possessions, 30 hit-outs, two marks and two tackles, and was desperately unlucky not to make the WAFL Colts Team of the Year. He was heavily influential against Claremont in the semi-final with 12 possessions and 29 hit-outs, and a similar performance is crucial to a Sharks’ victory.