East Fremantle outlasted East Perth at Medibank Stadium this afternoon with a thrilling seven-point victory in a game that lived up to its billing.
The Sharks won the battle to stay in the hunt for second place behind Claremont courtesy of a decisive seven goal to four third term.
Despite going in 26 points down when Brad Dick kicked his third goal early in the last quarter, the Royals didn’t give in, booting the next four majors to claw the margin back to one point with just minutes remaining.
But a late contested mark and goal to Brock O’Brien, who had seven scoring shots for the day, gave East Fremantle the buffer they needed to hold on for the win.
With everything to play for, East Fremantle were brilliantly led by captain Mark McGough, who finished the match with 32 disposals, including a crucial third quarter goal.
For the Royals, Nick Kommer played a great game, ably supported by Aaron Sweet.
Josh Smith was kept to two goals and little influence by West Coast’s Mitch Brown.
It was all East Perth for much of the first term with the Sharks kept scoreless until a flying shot at goal from veteran Richard Hadley registered their first behind.
Ruckman Paul Johnson was having a huge influence around the ground and when he kicked truly just over midway through the quarter the Royals had three goals to nothing.
Kommer and Garry Moss were dominating for East Perth through the middle of the ground and it was only the strong work of the East Fremantle half back line, led by Thomas Howlett, that was keeping the score from blowing out more.
The visitors managed to gain the ascendency late in the quarter, kicking their first goal and going into the first break just 11 points down.
The East Fremantle players were made to wait as Royals coach Tony Micale kept his side in the huddle for a long time.
But despite that ill discipline hurt East Perth early in the second quarter as 50m penalties resulted in two early goals to East Fremantle, putting them in front for the first time in the match.
It took the home side almost 15 minutes to record their first goal of the term with Kommer booting a major from close range after a Sharks’ defensive error.
The game became an arm wrestle after with goals to both sides before the Royals went seven points ahead after a clever snap from Daniel Macaulay late in the quarter.
But East Perth were left to rue to scoring shots in the dying minutes that gifted Dick his first goal of the day to see the scores level at half time.
East Fremantle put in a dominant display in the premiership quarter to go into the final break with a match-high 21-point lead.
The Sharks had all the answers for the Royals, who twice managed to pull the deficit back to three points before East Fremantle pulled away with a seven goal to four term.
East Perth’s cause wasn’t helped when big man Joe Boys was stretchered off about 27 minutes in.
|GOALS – EAST FREMANTLE: Perham, Dick, B’O’Brien 3; McGough, Teakle, Boyle, Young, Stevens. EAST PERTH: Prior 4; Smith, McKenzie 2; Kommer, Moss, Brookes, Johnson, Macaulay, Dobson.|
BEST – EAST FREMANTLE: McGough, Howlett, R O’Brien, Dalziell , Brown, B’O’Brien. EAST PERTH: Kommer, Johnson, Sweet, Moss, Prior, Clutterbuck.