East Perth posted their seventh straight win with a hard-fought 16-point victory over Claremont at a rain-soaked Showground today.
Already packed with West Coast-listed players, East Perth were further boosted when Patrick McGinnity and Josh Hill were late inclusions at the expense of Brett Dobson and Mitchell Howlett.
The Royals needed to win to maintain their place at the top of the WAFL ladder and set it up from the five-minute mark of the first term until half time when they booted 10 goals to one to record their 10th win of the year.
The Tigers battled hard in the second half but couldn’t add to their three wins for the year and remain second last on the ladder.
McGinnity was industrious against his old side after just missing selection for the Eagles, gathering 30 possessions and putting the ball inside 50 five times, while Steven Payne (25 touches) and Freddie Clutterbuck (27 disposals) were also prominent for the premiership favourites.
Young defender Blayne Wilson (27 disposals) sat behind the ball and mopped up the Tigers’ forward forays for much of the day.
Mark Seaby battled manfully against imposing duo Paul Johnson and Callum Sinclair to win 25 possessions and 28 hit outs, with Luke Blackwell (31 disposals) doing what he does best at the bottom of the packs.
Albany product Brenden Abbott put in an eye-catching display to provide a spark on a bleak day, while Matt Orzel worked hard in his 150th game.
The home side started brightly and had the first two majors of the game within the first five minutes through a brilliant snap from the pocket from Anton Hamp and a dribbling effort from point blank range from Abbott.
But it was tough work from there as East Perth started to dominate possession, with big men Johnson and Sinclair chipping in to level the scores.
The Royals then accelerated away, despite the tough conditions, adding another four unanswered goals to take a 28-point lead into the second term.
Claremont hit back with the first goal after the break through Seaby but they couldn’t halt the visitors’ momentum as they booted the next four goals and didn’t concede even a point at the other end.
The second half started under lights as the rain really started to team down and The muddied areas of the grown became more difficult to contend with.
A determined Tigers outfit did all the attacking early in the quarter with the first four shots on goal, two of which went through the big sticks to show they wouldn’t be going away.
When Abbott booted his second and Fong converted a free kick under a minute later, the gap was back to just 25 points.
The Royals snuffed out the Claremont challenge within a minute of the final term when Sinclair pushed forward from a clearance to take a chest mark and convert the goal.
Both teams continued to battle hard until the final siren, trading goals, but the result was never really in doubt.
|GOALS - EAST PERTH: Johnson, Hill, Sinclair, A Smith 2; J Smith, Sheed, Tunbridge, Maginness. CLAREMONT: Abbott, Fong, Foster 2; Hamp, Seaby, Yeo, Taylor.|
BEST - EAST PERTH: McGinnity, Payne, Wilson, Clutterbuck, Wilson, Wulff. CLAREMONT: Seaby, Blackwell, Abbott, Foster, Orzel.