Royals season looks all but over
Royals season looks all but over

East Perth will need a miracle to advance beyond the home and away season after suffering a 66-point defeat to finals-bound Claremont.

A second-half onslaught from the Tigers effectively ended the Royals' season, the home side kicking seven consecutive goals in the third quarter to turn for home with a comfortable 52-point advantage.

Luke Blackwell had 40 possessions and Beau Wilkes (four goals) did the damage on the scoreboard as Claremont celebrated veteran key position player David Crawford's 150th game with a 20.16 (136) to 10.10 (70) victory.

Allistair Gillespie had 14 possessions and 24 hit-outs in the reserves but was forced to back-up in the league side when Ian Rowe was a late withdrawal.

The first quarter was a hard-fought slog with the Tigers taking a seven-point lead to the first break after Beau Wilkes marked and converted his set shot late in the term.

Goals to Josh Smith and Michael Swan gave East Perth the lead early in the second quarter but debutant Jack Bradshaw kicked his first major to wrest back momentum for the Tigers in a see-sawing affair.

Claremont kicked the next four goals to pull clear and looked capable of running away with the game before Swan put a halt to their charge.

The captain's clever snap and another from ruckman Brock Higgins gave the Royals hope at half-time, when they trailed by just 13 points.

But premiership hopefuls Claremont lifted a gear in the third quarter, producing the first seven goals of the term, before Josh Smith kicked a clever goal from long-range in time-on.

East Perth's third quarter was summed up when youngster Shaquille McKenzie sprayed an attempted shot on goal after the three-quarter time siren.

McKenzie's torpedo punt from 50m into the breeze landed about 30m short.

The ability of Claremont's forwards to out-mark their opponents in contests inside 50m and loose defending from the Royals proved crucial.

Wilkes took several strong marks and was in the thick of the action throughout, but was reported for a heavy hit on Craig Wulff in the second quarter and is now in danger of missing the Foxtel Cup grand final against Williamstown at Patersons Stadium next weekend.

Swan finished with three goals for East Perth and Smith (two goals) provided a marking target in attack all day, while veteran Craig Wulff had 37 possessions in the midfield.

Brendan Lee was shadowed by Clay McLernon but worked hard for 25 disposals and Gary Moss was good for the Royals with 19 possessions and two goals.

High-leaping Claremont forward Ben Saunders was dropped to the reserves and kicked six goals in the Tigers' 78-point win.

SCOREBOARD

CLAREMONT 5.4 10.717.1120.16136
EAST PERTH4.38.69.710.1070
GOALS – CLAREMONT: Wilkes 5; Bradshaw 3; Richardson, Gilligan, Crawford, Jones 2; Rudeforth, Foster, Andrews, Schammer. EAST PERTH: Swan 3; Moss, Smith 2; Sweet, MacAulay, Higgins.

BEST – CLAREMONT: Blackwell, Wilkes, Browne, Gilligan, Franz, Foster, Lee. EAST PERTH: Wulff, Moss, Lee, Swan, Smith.
REPORTS: Wilkes (Claremont) for striking, Gillespie (Claremont) for rough conduct.
UMPIRES: S Parry, B Wardman, C Pattinson.
CROWD: 1922 at Claremont Oval.

The West Australian

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