Claremont have secured top spot with a comprehensive 92-point win over second-placed East Fremantle but the victory came at a significant cost to both teams.
Claremont’s Sandover medallist Luke Blackwell is on report after a clash with Richard Hadley that put the Sharks tagger out of the game with blurred vision.
And the Tigers lost veterans Trinity Handley (shoulder) and Byron Schammer (ankle) well before a last quarter spree from Tom Lee set up the 19.10 (124) to 4.8 (32) win.
The Sharks lost big man Russell Gabriel to a hand injury. Eagle Koby Stevens hurt a shoulder while the game had barely started before mercurial forward Max Duffy damaged an ankle.
In one of the most ferocious matches of the season, Claremont had too many options for their gallant opponents.
While Blackwell did not dominate, Jake Murphy stepped into the breach with /// while Kane Mitchell’s hard running saw him become one of Claremont’s main drivers.
The Sharks were kept goalless in the second and last terms as Claremont’s greater precision and better ball use kept the visitors under relentless pressure.
There was little in it until midway through the second term as both teams confronted each other with great spirit.
Hadley was highly effective to that point as his close-checking tactics curtailed Blackwell’s impact.
But the Tigers found midfield winners and with backmen David Crawford and James Thomson proving difficult to pass, the home team soon set up the win.
East Fremantle’s tight win in the colts saw them square the race for the Rodriguez Shield as the WAFL’s most consistent club before a Claremont win in the reserves provided them with a six-point lead.
The league result meant that Claremont now have a 16 point lead in the competition regarded highly by all clubs.
|GOALS – CLAREMONT: Lee 5; Nisbett, Bradshaw 3; Jones, McGovern 2; Walton, Richardson, Morton, Laurie.|
EAST FREMANTLE: McGough, Young, Stevens, Henson.
BEST – CLAREMONT: Murphy, Mitchell, Swift, Ruck, Holt, Bradshaw. EAST FREMANTLE: Young, R O’Brien, Dalziell, Stephen, Weller.
UMPIRES: T Keating, G Parker, S Parry.
CROWD: 2851 at Claremont Oval.