Claremont have withstood a spirited East Fremantle challenge to win an exciting grand final by 26 points at Patersons Stadium.
The 18.16 (124) to 15.8 (98) victory made it consecutive WAFL league premierships for the Tigers for the first time since a hat-trick of flags starting in 1938.
Sandover Medallists Luke Blackwell and Kane Mitchell were prominent for the winners along with classy forward Paul Medhurst, who booted six goals to take the Simpson Medal, Ian Richardson and defenders David Crawford and Nic Suban.
Fremantle squad member Jonathon Griffin was outstanding for East Fremantle with support from wingman Bradd Dalziell, key forward Rob Young, defenders Tom Howlett and Steven Dodd and midfielder Koby Stevens.
Claremont had all the early running, kicking eight of the first nine goals of the match.
Mitchell and Blackwell were busy from the outset, Mitchell kicking two goals in the opening term.
The ponytailed wingman, winner of the WAFL’s prestigious fairest and best count last Monday night, kicked accurately at the 15 and 24-minute mark to help his team to a convincing 47-point lead at the first change.
One of those goals to Mitchell came before the ball was returned to the centre after Blackwell kicked his team’s sixth of the match.
Mitchell was awarded a free after a careless challenge from East Fremantle captain Mark McGough.
It was indicative of how Claremont were winning in every department including catching the umpires’ eye.
The Sharks snapped out of their lethargy, responding with four of the first five goals of the second stanza to reduce the margin to 28 points at the 11-minute mark.
Medhurst steadied with his fourth of the game soon after with centre-half-forward Tom Lee also finding range to open up a 44-point lead for the Tigers.
East Fremantle worked their way back into the contest with a much-improved second quarter. The Sharks outscored Claremont by six goals to three in the second quarter but still trailed by 30 points at the long break.
East Fremantle tall utility player Rob Young was reported after colliding with Claremont key defender James Thomson seconds after the half time siren sounded. A number of skirmishes developed shortly afterwards but there were no more reports at the long break.
East Fremantle closed to within 18 points after booting two goals inside the first 90 seconds of the third term. McGough snapped the first 10 seconds in after Young was awarded a free kick before the ball was bounced to start the second half.
It seemed to be minor contact from Thomson on Young but was spotted by the whistleblowers. When Rory O’Brien kicked truly five minutes later, the Sharks had pegged the margin back to 12 points to have a real chance.
Claremont shot 26 points clear midway through the quarter after Medhurst’s fifth goal but the Sharks kicked the last three of the term and opening goal of the final stanza to reduce the deficit to one point.
Clutch goals to dual Bernie Naylor Medallist Chad Jones and Andrew Foster soon after opened up a 14-point gap for the Tigers.
Young snared one back for East Fremantle but Claremont had enough in the tank to hang on for victory.
It capped a dark day for the Sharks who, as they did in 2000, lost in all three grades.
South Fremantle beat East Fremantle by 58 points in the colts grand final with the Tigers 44-point winners over the Sharks in the reserves season decider.
| GOALS – CLAREMONT: Medhurst 6; Richardson, Mitchell 3; Foster 2; Blackwell, Lee, Jones, Schammer. EAST FREMANTLE: Young, Griffin 3; B O’Brien 2; McGough, Teakle, R O’Brien, Dalziell, Stevens, Brennan, Menegola.|
BEST – CLAREMONT: Blackwell, Medhurst, Crawford, Suban, Richardson, Mitchell. EAST FREMANTLE: Griffin, Dalziell, Young, Brown, Dodd, Howlett.
INJURIES - CLAREMONT: Foster (knee). EAST FREMANTLE: Bayliss (elbow).
REPORTS: Young (EF) for rough conduct against Thomson (C) at half time; Handley (C) for rough conduct against B O’Brien (EF) in third quarter.
UMPIRES: J Orr, T Keating, S McPhee.