It is only three weeks into the WAFL season but the league’s engraver can start working out where to inscribe East Perth’s name on the premiership cup.
Fears that the Royals would dominate the WAFL this season under an alignment model that would add a dozen or more West Coast Eagles each week proved unfounded in the opening two rounds.
The Royals won both matches but were stretched against gallant but outmatched Peel and Swan Districts teams.
It was a different story at Fremantle Oval on Friday night when South Fremantle were put to the sword by an East Perth outfit that gelled superbly and had too much strength, size and composure for their overwhelmed opponents.
In a game that proved to be more of an exhibition than a contest, even with such mediocre lighting that only parts of the murky spectacle could be viewed, East Perth were untouched from midway through the first quarter.
The Royals stretched their lead in every quarter before strolling to victory by 75 points, 20.8 (128) to 8.5 (53).
East Perth now lead the ladder with victories from their three games to suggest pre-season predictions that they would go one better than last year’s grand final appearance were well founded.
South’s endeavour was beyond question but they made numerous skill errors and could not match the class and poise of players like Dom Sheed, who gathered (25 possessions and two goals) while Mark Hutchings (22 and one), Blayne Wilson (22) and Sam Butler (31 and one) were prolific and poised performers.
It was the 30th time in 43 matches under coach Paul Hasleby that South have given up at least 100 points to underline the team’s defensive inadequacies.
Marlon Pickett told the story of South’s dire straits.
A star in his first four matches, the silky midfielder had just one kick and may be scrutinised over a heavy bump on Wilson early in the game.
The absence of injured ruckman James Sellar crippled the Bulldogs against a team that boasts the competition’s widest array of high-quality big men on the ball and in the key positions.
Paul Johnson and Scott Lycett relished the chance on the ball with the big left-footer, the WAFL’s most influential player, living up to his billing against a former team-mate in Brock Higgins.
Johnson sparked East Perth in the first term with his control at the centre bounces but his remarkable athleticism allowed him to sweep across the ground and gather 21 touches.
Lycett’s one-touch marking was a feature of his game while he added two goals to his tally of 15 disposals and 22 hit outs and two goals.
The impact of the 12 Eagles in the team was most telling in East Perth’s backline where the team’s surety under pressure was displayed time and again.
|SOUTH FREMANTLE||2.2||3.2||5. 4||8.5||53|
|GOALS – EAST PERTH: J Smith 4; Hill 3; Lycett, McInnes, Sheed 2; Wulff, Fraser, Blee, A Smith, Hutchings, Dobson, Butler.|
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Pullman 2; Schloithe, Guglielmana, B Verrier, Saunders, Cook, Pickett.