The West

Royals hold off Sharks challenge
Craig Wulff.

A powerful last quarter has surged East Perth of a game but out-gunned East Fremantle and shored up the Royals premiership favouritism at Medibank Stadium today.

The Royals absorbed the best shots the Sharks could take at them in a fierce third term, then raced clear in a five goal to two final quarter that left East Fremantle without answers in a 14.20 (104) to 11.10 (76) result.

Royals stalwarts Brendan Lee and Craig Wulff gave strong four quarter efforts while West Coast squad members Fraser McInnes (three goals), Sharrod Wellingham and Jamie Bennell overcame slow starts to the game to be key figures in the strong finish.

For East Fremantle Bradd Dalziell worked tirelessly midfield and also kicked two goals. Robbie Young bobbed up to finish with five and Andrew Stephen and Mark McGough were also willing contributors.

Steven Dodd had the better of an absorbing duel with East Perth forward Josh Smith, though Smith had his best quarter in the final term.

East Perth dominated an opening term where the ball spent much of its time locked in their forward fifty.

Mitch Howlett gave them midfield impetus and young West Coast list member Malcolm Karpany cashed in on the weight of opportunities in a promising opening.

Karpany kicked two first quarter goals and contributed to a third when he handballed to Josh hill in the goalsquare. With McInnes and Matt Gordon also getting in on the act the match threatened to become a rout early.

The Sharks to their credit steadied late in the quarter, with goals to Jack Perham and Tim Bristow giving them hope. But the Royals still led by 22 points at the first change and were well in control of the match.

The match threatened to turn early in the second quarter as Sharks midfielders Stephen, Dalziell and McGough exerted an influence on the game but the Sharks missed opportunities.

McGough twice missed shots on goal after clever intercept marks and it took eight minutes before the prolific Dalziell floated a punt through on the run. East Fremantle got a fourth six minutes later from Young, but he also missed from in front minutes later and Josh Hill got a steadying goal for the Royals five minutes later.

Still, the Sharks had closed the gap by a goal in the second term to give themselves hope. Dalziell had run up 17 touches to the main break while Stephen and Cam Eardley had managed 15 each.

Wulff (17), Lee (15) and Dean Cadwallader (14) had been prolific for the Royals while Wellingham came into the game strongly in the second quarter and had gathered 12 touches to half time.

The third term was an epic arm wrestle, controlled by the Sharks for two thirds of the term before the Royals hit back late. Dalziell continued to run up a big possession count and kicked one of his team’s five goals for the term while Young, a hard working target in attack, added two to go to the last break with three.

A superb inside out drop punt from Jayden Schofield put East Fremantle in front for the first time in the match at the 24 minute mark of the term but McInnes got a late goal to leave the home team three points up at the last change.

EAST PERTH 5.6 6.11 9.13 14.20 104
EAST FREM2.2 4.7 9.10 11.10 76
GOALS - EAST PERTH: McInnes 3; Karpany, Hill, Gordon, Cripps 2; Smith Howlett Bennell. EAST FREMANTLE: Young 5; Perham, Dalziell 2; T Bristow Schofield.

BEST - EAST PERTH: Lee, Wulff, Bennell, Wellingham, McInnes, Cadwallader, Johnson. EAST FREMANTLE: Dalziell, Stephen, Dodd, Young, O’Brien Eardley.
UMPIRES: Jordan Wright, Stuart Parry, Matt Adams.
CROWD: 2000 (approx) at Medibank Stadium.

The West Australian

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