Falcons hold firm in Foxtel thriller
Falcons hold firm in Foxtel thriller

West Perth are one win away from the Foxtel Cup grand final following their upset two-point victory over VFL premiers Box Hill at Etihad Stadium last night.

Despite being without 10 of last year's premiership players, the Falcons led for most of the match and outlasted their more fancied opponents in a tense final term.

State squad member Shane Nelson (24 possessions) dominated the first half and was the leading ball winner for West Perth, who had seven individual goal kickers in the 7.11 (53) to 7.9 (51) win.

The Falcons will almost certainly start favourites in their semifinal against Launceston side Western Storm, who upset reigning Foxtel Cup champions West Adelaide in the opening round last week.

The semifinal will be played on June 24 at Patersons Stadium.

Box Hill featured nine players affiliated with Hawthorn, including five rookies, and another three with AFL experience.

Conversely, West Perth had only two former AFL players, Steven Browne and Jordan Jones.

The Falcons surged clear after a tight opening to the game and led by 19 points at half-time despite kicking a wasteful 2.7 in the second term.

James Sicily dragged Box Hill back into the contest with three of the first four goals in the third quarter as they cut the margin to two points by the final change.

The Hawks hit the front through Ben Ross in the final term, but West Perth steadied with goals to Ray Bartholomew and Matthew Johnson and hung on in a desperate finish.

Defender Jones (22 touches) and wingman Aaron Black (15) were strong contributors for West Perth, while Hawthorn's Alex Woodward (29 possessions) was prominent for Box Hill.

Nelson finished with 15 contested possessions and seven clearances.

"It was a hard-fought game the whole time," Nelson said.

"They're a great side and that's why they're the best from Melbourne. We just wanted to lock it in at the end and get as many stoppages as we could.

"In the end the time ran out, so it was great."

West Perth's attention now turns to Sunday's WAFL clash with struggling Peel Thunder at Arena Joondalup.

The Falcons are expected to make plenty of changes to the team that played in Melbourne last night as they look to limit the impact of a five-day turnaround.

Nelson hoped the win would provide a spark after a difficult start to the season.

The Falcons have won just two of six WAFL games.

"We're struggling a little bit at home and everyone had pretty much written us off," Nelson said.

The West Australian

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