East Fremantle showed that they were a cut above the rest in the WAFL Colts in 2017 as they produced a comprehensive 54-point win over Claremont in the Grand Final at Subiaco Oval on Sunday.
Perth had experienced wintry conditions for the last few days with more predicted, however, the game was played in fine and calm conditions.
East Fremantle kicked the first goal of the game through key forward Dillon O’ Reilly and the early stages saw the Sharks dictate the terms. Their hard work paid dividends through goals to Brandon Collard and a classy individual effort by Joshua Ritchie.
From the outset, Claremont, who were looking to win a hat-trick of Colts premierships, were convincingly getting beaten all over the ground. They quickly needed some composure in possession as well as some forward 50 entries to get themselves into the contest.
While they increased their work rate and got their hands on the ball, they could not put any scoreboard pressure on their opponents and quarter time saw the Sharks hold a deserved 18 point lead.
The Tigers were looking to get some early momentum in the second term, but it was the Sharks who were still in complete control with Ambrose Ryan slotting a major from the forward pocket.
That was followed shortly after by a goal to Dwayne Nevill who benefitted from some great work further up the ground by Samuel Lewis.
O’Reilly then kicked his second goal of the game courtesy of a fifty metre penalty and it was suddenly a six goal lead for the Sharks.
The Fremantle club were showing a key reason why they were minor premiers with the effortless nature they were able to transfer the ball from defence into attack.
If ever the Tigers needed a goal it was before half time, and they got it when Jake Blaauw centred the ball to the top of the square for Isaac Barton to soccer home.
A 32 point lead probably was not a true reflection of the game with the Sharks having seven more scoring shots and 26 more possessions. However, that late goal gave the Tigers a ray of hope as the game moved into the second half.
To truly make the game a contest, the Tigers needed more impact from their key trio of Jake Patmore, Callan England and Blaauw who had just 20 possessions between them in the first two quarters.
Claremont had a number of forward 50 entries to start the third quarter, but they were unable to build any scoreboard pressure.
East Fremantle then went down the other end and Ryan kicked his second for the game from the forward pocket which saw the Sharks go out to their equal biggest lead of the game.
The main issue for the Tigers was when they entered the forward 50 and looked threatening, they were repelled by the superb defensive qualities of Chris Scott and Zachary Jackson, who were rock solid in East Fremantle’s backline.
The third quarter would have certainly been bittersweet for Claremont players and coaches alike.
While they played their best football of the game with Patmore and England having a bigger impact, their inaccuracy was severely hurting their chances as they scored six straight behinds.
The Sharks managed to soak up the pressure and turned for home with a 33 point lead, just requiring to finish the job that they started.
Timothy Bockman kicked the first goal of the final quarter and he followed that with his second soon after to push the lead beyond 40 points and the Sharks had two firm hands on the trophy.
While the Tigers had gamely battled all day despite being far from their best, the scoreboard was now reflecting the dominance that East Fremantle had over the contest.
This was displayed further when Ryan hit Collard on the chest with a pin point pass and the lead blew out to 50 points.
Ritchie joined in on the Sharks feeding frenzy kicking his second and Bockman then pounced, kicking his third for the quarter and pushed the margin beyond 10 goals.
Jack Buller finally kicked the Tigers’ first for the term and second of the game with some smart play, before the final 10 minutes was played out without any further goals and the Sharks claimed their 11th Colts Premiership in their history and first since 2010.
Despite there not being an individual performance in the way that Sam Powell-Pepper or Jake Waterman produced in the 2016 Grand Final, it was a pleasure to see a complete team effort by the 22 players of the Sharks, highlighting why they were the elite team in 2017.
Chris Scott was the deserved winner of the Mel Whinnen medal for best on ground with 21 possessions and 10 marks.
Tigers big man Lewis Davis was their best on the day combining his ruckwork (19 hit/outs) along with terrific work around the ground (22 poss, eight marks, six tackles and nine inside 50s).
With the season now done and dusted, the players’ attention now turns to the state and national draft combines where they will aim to put their best foot forward and fulfil their dream to get themselves onto an AFL list.
We wish them well.