The West

Royals rise with win over Falcons
East Perth's Freddie Clutterbuck in action at Arena Joondalup. Pic: Nic Ellis.

East Perth have moved to second place on the ladder and now loom as genuine premiership threats after outlasting West Perth at Arena Joondalup.

Playing in front of 6201 fans, including a host of Falcons players, officials and stalwarts celebrating the 20th anniversary of the shift to the northern suburbs, West Perth were not able to match their arch rival’s greater class.

But it took until time on in the last term, when Scott Lycett kicked his third goal, for the visitors to take control of the contest.

Down by one, one and three points at the three breaks, East Perth stretched the lead to 16 as they won 10.9 (69) to 7.11 (53).

West Perth were hurt by the loss of ruckman Chris Keunen, who did not appear in the last term after being poked in the eye, with Royals big men Lycett, Paul Johnson and Callum Sinclair relishing the lack of opposition.

Johnson went forward from the first centre bounce to kick a goal within 20 seconds of the start of the last term.

It was just his third major of the season but few have been more valuable.

Mark Hutchings then rubbed salt into the wounds of his former team when he kicked another to give East Perth a nine-point lead, the biggest of the match.

The game was intense from the start but neither team was able to break away on the most significant day of the home and away season.

Anthony Tsalikis’ mobility troubled Jacon Brannan but the forward was not able to make the most of his chances as West Perth’s wayward entries cost them dearly.

East Perth controlled much of the play in the first term without being able to extend their superiority to the scoreboard.

Notwithstanding their difficulties in getting hold of the ball, the Falcons had plenty of chances to score but squandered their opportunities as they scraped to a one-point lead at the first break.

The most wasteful came when Tsalikis received a free directly in front of goals only for his team-mate Steven Potente to play on and miss the soda.

But Potente paid his way by converting two free kicks into first half goals while Matt Guadagnin overcome a bone-rattling collision early in the game to snap a late major which maintained the one-point difference at half-time.

East Perth fielded four big men, prompting West Perth to bring in second ruckman Seva Martin for his first senior appearance for his second club.

Lycett and Sinclair shared the ruck duties while Johnson switched between a new role as a ruck-rover and deep in attack.

Lycett produced one of the goals of the season when he brought the ball to ground in a marking contest with opponent Dan Hunt, dummied around an oncoming defender and slotted a 40m banana kick at full pace as he galloped towards the goals.

The presence of six West Coast midfielders meant East Perth and WA captain Brendan Lee, one of the league’s premier clearance players, spent much of the first half in attack.

The Royals had just 17 inside 50s in that period, forcing coach Brian Dawson to swing Johnson and Lee on to the ball in the second half.

EAST PERTH 2.3 4.56.710.9 69
WEST PERTH2.44.6 6.107.1153
GOALS – EAST PERTH: Lycett 3; Maginness, McInnes 2; Hutchings, McGinnity, Johnson. WEST PERTH: Potente 3; Black 2; Guadagnin, Crisp.

BEST – EAST PERTH: Anderson, Clutterbuck, Lycett, Hutchings, Payne, Lee. WEST PERTH: Jones, Strijk, Nelson, Browne, van Berlo, Tsalikis.
INJURIES: West Perth – Keunen (eye).
UMPIRES: S Parry, M Worobec, J Wright.
CROWD: 6201 at Arena Joondalup.

The West Australian

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