East Perth kept their premiership hopes alive with a 28-point win over Swan Districts in the first semifinal at Steel Blue Oval today.
The Royals were boosted by the return of five West Coast players and got good service from most of them, with Jamie Cripps and Scott Lycett combining for nine goals in the 18.14 (122) to 15.4 (94) win.
East Perth will now face Claremont for a spot in the grand final, while Swans' season is over.
Cripps and Lycett were among East Perth’s best, along with Royals co-captain Brendan Lee (29 possessions) and recently retired Eagles veteran Adam Selwood (32 possessions).
Another West Coast star bowing out, Andrew Embley, was Swan Districts’ best in attack, kicking five goals, four of which came in the first half.
But the 2006 Norm Smith medalist’s impressive contribution wasn’t enough to get Swans over the line.
East Perth co-captain Craig Wulff won the toss and kicked with the breeze in the opening term, but the Royals were wasteful in attack.
They were made to pay in the second quarter as Swans erased a nine-point deficit and piled on seven goals for the term to head into half-time two goals in front.
East Perth goal sneak Arthur Bennell was denied a goal in controversial circumstances on the half-time siren.
The controlling umpire did not hear the siren start, but the emergency umpired did and rushed out to clarify the situation.
East Perth came out firing in the third term and kicked five of the first six goals to wrest back control.
Late goals in time-on to Swans’ Shaun Hildebrandt and Embley cut the margin to one point, but Cripps and Lycett responded for the Royals to restore a 13-point buffer just before three-quarter time.
Swans had the breeze at their backs in the final term but it was the Royals who stepped up when it counted.
Goals to Lycett, Josh Smith and Cripps saw the lead blow out to 34 points before Kirk Ugle’s snap at the 16-minute mark stopped the rot.
Bernie Naylor medalist Smith had been well held by Swans captain Tallan Ames, who kept his opponent to the solitary goal.
With their team seemingly out of the contest, a group of vocal Swans fans turned their attention towards the controversial AFL alignment scheme, belting out several choruses of the West Coast theme song to goad their WAFL rivals.
But it was the Royals singing loudest at the end of the day after ending Swans’ season.
Swans opted against playing Ash Hansen in the semifinal despite hinting during the week the key forward was poised to make a shock comeback.
The former West Coast spearhead was included in Swans’ initial squad of 26 during the week, but didn’t make the final cut.
Hansen, an Eagles (2006) and Swan Districts (2010) premiership player, has not played in the WAFL since last year's preliminary final loss to East Fremantle.
He has been working as a development coach and runner with the Western Bulldogs after returning home to Victoria before the start of the season.
Hansen was eligible for the semifinal after being added to Swans’ list before their last home-and-away match.SCOREBOARD
|GOALS – EAST PERTH: Cripps 5; Lycett 4; Swan 2; Bennell, Clutterbuck, Seal, Sweet, Cadwallader, Wulff, Smith.|
SWAN DISTRICTS: Embley 5; Garlett 3; Ugle 2; Davis, Faulkner, Notte, Hildebrandt, Robinson.
BEST - EAST PERTH: Selwood, Cripps, Lee, Lycett, Sweet, Swan.
SWAN DISTRICTS: Embley, Ames, Roach, Faulkner, Jetta, Notte.
INJURIES – SWAN DISTRICTS: Geappen (thigh).
REPORTS: Davis (SD) for rough conduct on Wulff (EP) in the first quarter.
UMPIRES: S McPhee, J Orr, M Adams
CROWD: 6000 (approx) at Steel Blue Oval