UPDATE: West Perth coach Bill Monaghan felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction after steering the team to its first premiership in 10 years with a stirring 49-point win over East Perth yesterday.
Midfielders Mark Hutchings and Shane Nelson starred for the Falcons, while Rohan Kerr kicked five goals in the 20.11 (131) to 12.10 (82) win in front of 20,008 fans at Patersons Stadium.
Hutchings had 29 possessions, eight clearances and three goals to win the Simpson Medal.
Many outsiders doubted West Perth’s premiership prospects, despite the Falcons occupying a place in the top two since the opening round of the season.
Questions were also asked when Monaghan, who had never previously led the club to a finals victory, was handed a three-year contract extension last month.
But the coach and his players silenced their critics in emphatic fashion.
“It’s taken a while to get there and the players have really embraced what we’ve done this year,” Monaghan said.
“We really had to change some of the things we were doing and move with the times and they really bought into that.
“The players drive most of it. They are the ones who do the work — I just scream the instructions. They’ve been fantastic and they’ve carried themselves exceptionally well.”
Monaghan praised Falcons ruckman Chris Keunen and the on-ball brigade led by Hutchings, Nelson and Jay van Berlo, who denied East Perth the opportunity to use their greatest strengths around the stoppages. Veteran defenders Dan Hunt and Luke Tedesco led a stingy back line, while forwards Jason Salecic, Marc Crisp and Matt Fowler competed hard all day.
Vice-captain Tedesco came back into the side at the expense of the unlucky Trent Manzone after overcoming a torn calf.
Forward Anthony Tsalikis (shoulder) and Michael Pettigrew (hamstring) were also hard-luck stories on an otherwise bright day for West Perth.
East Perth coach Brian Dawson said his side clearly wasn’t good enough on the day.
“West Perth controlled the ball around the stoppages a hell of a lot, which was an area we thought we’d at least break even in, if not win,” Dawson said.
“They certainly got the advantage on us there and that probably provided enough forward entries for them to kick a winning score.
“History says it’s tough (to come from fourth). The boys were playing their 10th game in a row today and they’ve done wonderfully well to get here.”
Clutterbuck, who had only missed one previous game this season, was replaced in the selected team by Cameron Grover.
Inclement weather no doubt played a role in keeping some of the crowd away, with just 18,068 through the gates at bouncedown.
WAFL officials had hoped the derby match-up would attract a crowd of more than 25,000.
West Perth settled best in tricky conditions, kicking four of the opening five goals, including two to Kerr, to create an 18-point buffer in the opening term.
But East Perth responded through key big men Paul Johnson and Josh Smith before two goals to Mat Seal gave the Royals the lead by quarter time.
Smith outmanoeuvred his opponent Hunt again to mark and kick the opening goal of the second quarter — the Royals’ fifth in succession.
Hutchings replied with a calm set shot from 45m to stem the flow for the Falcons and spark his side back into life.
The lead changed hands five times from there before half-time and the Falcons went into the main break with the upper hand.
East Perth briefly regained the ascendancy after the long break, scoring goals through Eagles Jamie Cripps and Scott Lycett, to snatch a three-point lead.
But a controversial reversed free kick gave the Falcons a chance to kick the next goal and they took it through Hutchings.
Royals defender Blayne Wilson marked on the wing but was collected late by Salecic and was awarded a 50m penalty.
A melee ensued and a free kick was paid against Cripps for a light bump to Salecic’s chest.
Hutchings was the final beneficiary as the Falcons charged forward and they kicked the next two goals. By this time they had built plenty of momentum.
A late goal to Cripps at the other end gave the Royals hope as they went to three-quarter time down by 11 points.
It was a tight opening to the last quarter before Kerr ran into an open goal midway through the term to kick his fourth goal and give West Perth a seemingly unassailable 22-point lead.
Try as they might, East Perth could not muster a comeback and the margin blew out.
East Perth co-captain Brendan Lee was best for the Royals with 37 possessions, while small forward Cripps (three goals) and veteran midfielder Wulff (24 possessions) were also strong contributors.
There was heartbreak before the game for East Perth wingman Freddie Clutterbuck, who succumbed to a hamstring injury sustained during the preliminary final.
Clutterbuck, who had missed only one previous game this season, was replaced in the selected team by Cameron Grover.
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