East Perth twice held East Fremantle goalless in quarters while producing an ominous attacking display to produce their fifth win of the season and reinforce their prospects of a serious tilt at the flag.
The Sharks never surrendered in front of a modest home crowd at East Fremantle Oval, and even threatened to pinch the match in the dying moments, but were not able to match the Royals for class, skill and intensity.
East Perth restricted their opponents to three behinds in the first term and improved their effort in the third when East Fremantle did not score and took 18 minutes to enter their forward 50m zone for the first time.
The Royals hammered on six goals in the same period to ensure the eventual 10-point victory, 11.9 (75) to 9.11 (65).
East Fremantle came home strongly with six goals to nil in the last term, Brett Peake snaring four goals as he ran deep into attack, but the deficit was too great when they started their run.
The margin was only 10 points at the main break but East Perth’s ferocious start to the second half, which included three consecutive goals from marks inside 50 from their first three entries, proved the critical period of the match.
The most absorbing contest on the field was the old-fashioned match-up between key forward Callum Sinclair, who hauled in eight first-half marks and kicked two goals, against Tom Howlett who did his State prospects no harm with 14 marks and 10 rebounds from the defensive 50.
Both players were the best performers for their teams with East Perth’s focus on kicking to Sinclair’s position at every opportunity guaranteeing the pair were involved in dozens of contests.
West Coast midfielders Sharrod Wellingham is a highly gifted player and he used his relegation back to the WAFL to display his special skills.
He had 25 disposals, but it was the quality of his precise kicking, which included a superb 65m lateral pass to set up a Stephen Payne goal, which proved one of the key differences between the teams.
East Fremantle won the ball enough times but were hampered by their own poor kicking and decision-making against a team boasting 11 Eagles, including several on the verge of senior selection.
Brendan Lee made a highly successful return after overcoming a broken finger. The silky on-baller had 32 possessions in a dynamic four-quarter display.
|GOALS – EAST PERTH: McInnes, Hill 3; Sinclair 2; Wulff, Payne, Magginness. EAST FREMANTLE: Peake 4; Lester-Smith 2; McNamara, B O’Brien, Edwards.|
BEST – EAST PERTH: Sinclair, Wellingham, Lee, McGovern, Payne, Carter. EAST FREMANTLE: Howlett, McNamara, Read, Dalziell, Schofield, Dodd.