East Fremantle continued their charge towards the finals with a hard-fought 10-point win over Perth in a physical encounter at East Fremantle Oval today.
The Sharks’ sixth consecutive win saw them move three games clear of fifth-placed West Perth in the race for the finals.
The home side didn’t have it all their own way, forced to survive some nervous moments in the last quarter as Perth mounted a serious challenge.
But the Sharks held on to secure a tense 14.18 (102) to 14.8 (92) win.
Perth had the bye last week and made seven changes to the team that lost to Peel in round 13.
Caretaker coach Trevor Williams brought in plenty of experience, with Chance Bateman, Mitch Morton and Brennan Stack all returning.
Aidan Tropiano made his league debut for Perth after moving from East Fremantle last month and copped plenty of early attention from his former teammates.
But he answered in a positive fashion with a superb set shot from 50m to level the scores midway through the first quarter.
The Demons took more of their chances during a physical opening term and were rewarded with a nine-point lead at the first change.
The arm wrestle continued after the break, as did the aggression shown towards Tropiano, who was on the receiving end of a late hit from James Bristow that led to the East Fremantle ruckman being reported.
The Sharks broke the game open from there, booting a string of four straight goals leading into half-time to take the upper hand.
Perth fought back in the third quarter, with goals to Joel Houghton and Mitch Morton trimming the margin to 14 points.
But a 50m penalty paid against Dene White for stepping over the mark gave Jayden Schofield the chance to respond for East Fremantle with a gift from the goal square.
Perth got within a kick when White kicked truly at the 28-minute mark of the final term and had the chance to hit the front in a goalmouth scramble before the Sharks’ defence rushed a behind.
It took a breakaway goal from Sean Henson at the 31-minute mark to finally settle the contest.
Sandover medalist Rory O’Brien was a standout contributor in the middle for East Fremantle with 32 possessions, while Andrew Stephen (28) superbly marshaled the back half.
Henson finished with three goals.
Perth were well served by Tropiano (26 disposals), Joel Leeson (26) and Matt Mooday (23).
The only sour note for East Fremantle was a knee injury to star midfielder Jamie McNamara, who limped off early in the third term after playing a key role in the first half.
The early part of the day belonged to Perth as they recorded wins in both the reserves and colts matches.
The Demons scored a narrow one-point victory in a tight reserves affair after claiming a 24-point win in the colts.
|GOALS - EAST FREMANTLE: Henson 3; O'Brien, Peake, Williamson 2; T Bristow, Dalziell, Jupp, McNamara, Schofield. PERTH: Bevan, M Morton 2; Boyle, Collard, Eyres, Houghton, Leyendekkers, O'Sullivan, Stack, Tropiano, Ugle, White.|
BEST - EAST FREMANTLE: O'Brien, Stephen, Dalziell, Eardley, Hancock, Schofield. PERTH: White, Tropiano, Moody, Leeson, Eyres, Bevan.