East Fremantle qualified for their first grand final in more than a decade by beating Swan Districts by 27 points in the preliminary final at Steel Blue Oval today.
The Sharks led at every change but had to survive a second-half fight back from a determined Swans side to win 13.23 (101) to 11.8 (74), despite their poor kicking at goal.
West Coast forward Brad Dick kicked three goals for the winners. But it was their superb work at the other end of the ground that provided the foundations for the victory which sees them face Claremont in the grand final at Patersons Stadium next Sunday.
Mitch Brown and Steven Dodd held Swans’ tall forwards Ash Hansen and Tim Geappen to just three goals between them, though Ryan Davis got off the leash to boot four majors.
Mark McGough and Koby Stevens were fantastic in the East Fremantle engine room, while Bradd Dalziell and Sean Henson found plenty of space around the ground to punish Swans.
The Sharks led by 42 points when McGough marked and converted a set shot 19 minutes into the third quarter, but Swans kicked the next five goals to storm back into contention.
Three of those came in the first seven minutes of the final quarter and the huge crowd got behind the home side.
But Rory O’Brien ran into an open goal to steady the Sharks soon after.
The game became an arm wrestle over the final 20 minutes and it suited East Fremantle, who held on for a memorable win.
McGough was reported for striking Tony Notte but appears unlikely to receive a suspension for the minor contact.
Nevertheless, he faces a nervous wait this week, as do Jack Perham (head) and Richard Hadley (leg), who both suffered injuries.
Perham was helped off with neck brace after a heavy mid-air collision with Swans defender Tallan Ames in the second quarter and played no further part in the game.
Ames was also hurt in the contest, but jogged off the ground.
Hadley limped off with a right leg complaint in the dying stages.
Earlier, East Fremantle won both the colts and reserves preliminary finals by less than a kick.
The Sharks trailed at every change before storming home to beat Claremont in the colts by two points, 14.10 (94) to 14.8 (92), and were forced to withstand a late Perth fightback to win the reserves by five points, 12.9 (81) to 10.16 (76).
Preliminary final - Steel Blue Oval
| GOALS – EAST FREMANTLE: Dick 3; Menegola, B O’Brien 2; McGough, Hadley, R O’Brien, Weller, Stevens, Henson. SWAN DISTRICTS: Davis 4; Roach, Geappen, Garlett 2; Hansen.|
BEST – EAST FREMANTLE: McGough, Stevens, Brown, Henson, Cooper, Dalziell. SWAN DISTRICTS: Neale, Simpson, Roach, Hildebrandt, Davis, Jetta.
INJURIES – EAST FREMANTLE: Gabriel (cut head), Hadley (leg), Perham (head). SWAN DISTRICTS: nil.
REPORTS: McGough (EF) for striking Notte in the third quarter.
CROWD: 7000 (approx.) at Steel Blue Oval.