SOME wet weather returned for WAFL NAIDOC Round on Saturday but with pressure for finals spots heating up, the five matches produced some fascinating results with Subiaco and Claremont now clear in top two spots leaving South Fremantle and Perth locked in a battle for third.
With Subiaco and Claremont again winning impressively in their NAIDOC Round clashes with East Fremantle and South Fremantle respectively, they are now the two standout teams in the top two positions at present.
South Fremantle and Perth both suffered losses on Saturday ahead of their meeting this coming Saturday night which could well end up deciding which of them is more likely to at least finish the home and away season in third position.
Then there was the West Coast Eagles and West Perth who continued their good recent form to keep their finals prospects well and truly alive while East Perth came from behind to continue the miserable run, and particularly late game fadeouts, for Swan Districts in 2019.
All five NAIDOC Round matches in the WAFL took place on Saturday with the early starting fixture taking place at Mandurah's David Grays Arena ahead of the evening's AFL Western Derby at Optus Stadium between the Dockers and Eagles.
Earlier in the day in Mandurah, it was the West Coast Eagles making it three straight wins for their best run of form this season, defeating Peel Thunder 10.16 (76) to 3.10 (28).
Then in the traditional NAIDOC Round WAFL clash at Claremont Oval, the Tigers made it 10 wins from the 13 annual occasions the fixture has now taken place. Claremont recorded a fifth straight win to hand South Fremantle a third successive defeat by prevailing 12.6 (78) to 9.8 (62).
West Perth then returned to fifth position by continuing its remarkable domination over Perth at HBF Arena. The Falcons made it 17 consecutive wins against the Demons by winning 16.7 (103) to 10.12 (72).
Swan Districts once again played well for a half against East Perth at Steel Blue Oval, but couldn’t maintain the rage with the Royal setting up the win with four goals to nil in the third quarter to come from behind and win 8.17 (65) to 8.9 (57).
Subiaco then maintained its two-game break in top spot on the WAFL ladder and recorded a seventh consecutive victory against East Fremantle with a 17.14 (116) to 7.4 (46) win at Leederville Oval.
NAIDOC ROUND 2019 OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON
PEEL THUNDER 3.10 (28) lost to WEST COAST EAGLES 10.16 (76)
Round 13 action in the WAFL began with the early starting game on Saturday between Peel and West Perth, and the precursor to the AFL Western Derby at Optus Stadium had a similar result with the Eagles too strong for the Thunder.
The Eagles did come into the game on the back of their best two performances of the season to beat East Fremantle and South Fremantle, but the Thunder also looked good the previous Saturday with a win over Perth to set the stage for Saturday's clash in Mandurah.
But the Eagles enjoyed their visit to David Grays Arena beginning by kicking the only two goals of the first quarter to lead by 15 points at quarter-time.
It was even pegging in the second term with two goals apiece but that saw West Coast remain in control leading by 17 points heading into the half-time interval.
The Eagles then stamped their authority on the contest in the third quarter with four goals to one and that saw them open up a match-winning 35-point lead by three quarter-time.
Peel went goalless again in the last quarter and West Coast kicked another two goals to run out 10.16 (76) to 3.10 (28) winners.
The win means the Eagles have now won three straight matches for the first time to improve to a 5-7 record on the season to be right in the finals mix. Peel slips to a 5-7 record as well as a result of the defeat.
Nick Reid continued his tremendous run of form for the Eagles kicking another four goals to go with 22 possessions and seven marks.
Jake Waterman and Brady Grey also kicked two goals apiece for West Coast.
Coming off his WAFL Player of the Round performance against South Fremantle, Josh Smith was again superb for the Eagles with another 30 possessions, seven inside 50s, five marks and four tackles.
Hamish Brayshaw also finished the afternoon 24 disposals, Brayden Ainsworth 24, Matthew Allen 24, Kurt Mutimer 20, Josh Rotham 19 and Andrew Fisher.
Peel had just the three goal kickers for the day and they were Jackson Merrett, Haydn Matthews and Ryan Bennell who was back from State 18s duties.
Peel captain Ben Howlett returned for his first game since Round 1 due to shoulder surgery and battled hard for 21 possessions and nine tackles.
Bailey Banfield finished with 24 disposals for the Thunder, Taylin Duman 24, Merrett 20, Tom North 16 and Sam Sturt 16. Scott Jones amassed 52 hit outs.
CLAREMONT 12.6 (78) defeated SOUTH FREMANTLE 9.8 (62)
Claremont dominated the second half with eight goals to two to beat Claremont by 16 points in the traditional NAIDOC Week contest at Claremont Oval to consolidate second spot on the WAFL ladder.
South Fremantle had lost its past two matches coming into the contest but started strongly and then went into half-time with all the momentum and an 18-point lead.
But from there Claremont took control kicking eight of the game's 10 goals in the second half to end up winning 12.6 (78) to 9.8 (62).
The win means that the Tigers have won 10 of the 13 annual NAIDOC Week clashes with the Bulldogs since they first met to commemorate the occasion in 2007.
It's also a fifth straight win this season for Claremont who move clear in second position with a 9-3 record while South Fremantle is back in third spot at 8-4 having lost three in-a-row.
Claremont scored the game's first goal and it was the surprise move of throwing star defender Anton Hamp forward that paid immediate dividends as he kicked truly.
But South Fremantle got the immediate response thanks to captain Dylan Main and then Haiden Schloithe showed his clash with a clean pick up and classy finish in challenging conditions early in the game.
Claremont then got a goal back thanks to Ian Richardson with both teams continuing to go goal for goal with Jye Bolton adding another for the Bulldogs and Mason Shaw and Kyle Russell also kicking majors for the visitors.
That saw South Fremantle lead by a goal at quarter-time before Tom Lee brought Claremont back within a point when he goaled 11 minutes into the second term.
It was all South Fremantle, though, for the rest of the second quarter with the Bulldogs kicking goals courtesy of Jacob Dragovich, Caleb Datson and Steve Verrier to head into half-time leading by 18 points and with all the momentum.
It took 10 minutes for a goal in the third quarter but then Claremont kicked two in a minute thanks to Lee and Ryan Lim. The Tigers then closed to within a point when Jack Bradshaw also kicked truly.
Claremont kicked another just before three quarter-time thanks to Hamp as they held South Fremantle goalless for the term and found themselves up by five points at the last break.
South Fremantle did manage its first goal of the second half a minute into the last term when Brandon Donaldson kicked straight. That made it a one-point game but then Matthew Palfrey kicked two impressive goals in two minutes on his left-boot to put the Tigers on top.
Despite Schloithe getting one back for the Bulldogs, Claremont had assumed control and kicked the last two goals of the game thanks to Anthony Treacy and Bolton to end up winning by 16 points.
Despite being well kept in check by Noah Strom, Tom Lee kicked two goals for Claremont as did Anton Hamp as he thrived on his surprise move forward to go with 18 possessions and eight marks.
Jye Bolton returned to the Claremont team and kicked two goals to go with 29 possessions with Matthew Palfrey kicking two crucial last quarter goals.
Kane Mitchell continued his stunning form for the Tigers by amassing another 36 possessions to go with 12 tackles while Lachlan Martinis racked up 25 disposals, Declan Mountford 20 (11 tackles), Bailey Rogers 20 and Ryan Lim 18 (18 tackles).
Allowing Hamp to go forward, Haydn Busher did a good job defensively on Mason Shaw while having 16 possessions and nine marks himself.
The ruck battle was a fascinating one with Jeremy Goddard having 55 hit outs for Claremont but South Fremantle's Brock Higgins had 15 possessions, six tackles and 35 hit outs opposed to him.
Haiden Schloithe was tremendous for South Fremantle kicking two goals to go with 26 possessions and six tackles.
Steve Verrier was another to work tirelessly for the Bulldogs to rack up 30 disposals, six marks, five tackles, five inside-50 entries and a goal in his 99th WAFL appearance.
Jacob Dragovich also finished with 20 touches (12 tackles), Kade Stewart 19, Zac Strom 18, Andrew Haydon 18 and Kyle Russell 16.
South Fremantle was again limited with rotations for much of the game after Dylan Main copped a knock early and Adam McIntosh also injured his hand early in the piece.
WEST PERTH 16.7 (103) defeated PERTH 10.12 (72)
West Perth overcame a goalless opening quarter to end up continuing its recent domination of Perth with a 31-point win at HBF Arena on Saturday to return to the WAFL top five following 13 rounds of the 2019 season.
It was always going to be a significant game for both clubs in the context of the season with Perth trying to further consolidate their finals position and West Perth attempting to break back into the top five.
The Demons then made a terrific start at HBF Arena kicking the only three goals of the first quarter.
While the Falcons did get going kicking five goals in the second term, the Demons added four goals themselves and that helped them maintain a 16-point advantage at the major break.
The job was ahead to West Perth if it wanted to continue its domination of Perth of recent times and to end the round back in the top five, but the Falcons were up to the task.
West Perth turned on some scintillating football in the third quarter and kicked seven goals to just one from Perth to turn that 16-point deficit into a 20-point lead by three quarter-time.
The Falcons then extended that advantage with four goals to two in the last quarter to end up winning 16.7 (103) to 10.12 (72).
The win means that West Perth has won 17 straight matches now against Perth with the Demons' last win over the Falcons still coming way back in Round 18, 2011. That has now included nine straight wins also at HBF Arena.
West Perth also returns to fifth position on the WAFL ladder as a result of the win with a 6-6 record to have still put together a good run since a slow start, having won six of the past eight matches.
Perth does still cling to fourth position at 7-5 but face a big match this Saturday night at home to South Fremantle which can either consolidate their top five spot further or leave them vulnerable to the chasing pack.
Michael Lourey put together an impressive performance in attack for West Perth to end up being instrumental in the victory with four goals from 16 possessions and seven marks.
Tyler Keitel continued his tremendous form splitting his time between the ruck and up forward to finish with 23 touches, 10 marks, 10 hit outs, six marks and three goals.
Aaron Black, Tyson Moulton, Trent Manzone and Rudy Riddoch all kicked two goals apiece as well, including a rare and brilliant torpedo from Riddoch on NAIDOC Round.
Noah Pegoraro did well coming in to play in the ruck and had 18 touches and 13 hit outs while at ground level, Manzone had 26 possessions, Corey Chalmers 24, Blake Wilhelm 24, Black 23, Aidan Lynch 22, Riddoch 22, Shane Nelson 20 and Mitch Peirce 19.
Cody Leggett had a big afternoon for Perth with two goals to go with 29 possessions, nine marks, seven inside 50s and five tackles while Kristian Cary and Guy Langdon booted two goals apiece.
Clint Jones racked up another 37 possessions for the Demons while Michael Sinclair gathered another 34 disposals, Corey Yeo 31, Matthew Taylor 24, Jacob Payne 21, Brent Edmonds 21, Brant Colledge 20, Mitch Browne 19 and Zac Hill 19.
Christian Eyres battled hard in the ruck for 12 touches and 39 hit outs.
SWAN DISTRICTS 8.9 (57) lost to EAST PERTH 8.17 (65)
The frustrations of Swan Districts continued on Saturday with the black-and-whites once more starting promisingly and dominating the first half against East Perth, but not being able to maintain it with the Royals ending up winning by eight points at Steel Blue Oval.
Swan Districts were back on home turf at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval on Saturday looking to snap their four-game losing slide and to get off the bottom of the ladder against an East Perth team one game ahead on the table but with an inferior percentage.
Unfortunately for Swan Districts, Saturday's game told a familiar tale for what has happened much of the season with Swans being significantly more competitive than their now 2-10 record suggests.
With Swans having lost four straight and the Royals three in-a-row coming into Saturday's game, both teams were looking for an early shot of confidence and that came the way of the black-and-whites in the opening term.
Swan Districts ended up kicking four goals to one in the first term and that saw them in control of the contest leading by 16 points at quarter-time.
While East Perth kicked three goals in the second quarter in response, Swan Districts maintained control of the contest with three goals themselves to head into the half-time break with a 13-point advantage.
But it had been a familiar for Swan Districts to play well in a first half and be leading at half-time, and unfortunately for the black-and-whites the game followed a familiar path in the second half.
Swans managed just the three behinds in the third quarter and the Royals piled on four goals and seven behinds to have 11 scoring shots to three to turn that 13-point half-time deficit into a 15-point three quarter-time advantage.
There was only one goal between the two teams in the last quarter and that went the way of Swans, but the Royals had done enough to end up winning 8.17 (65) to 8.9 (57).
The win keeps East Perth's slim finals hopes alive with a 4-8 record while Swan Districts is still a game clear on the bottom of the ladder at 2-10.
East Perth didn’t have a multiple goal scorer for their eight majors on the day but several players had multiple shots on goal with Shayne Hille kicking 1.5, Ajang Ajang 1.3, Eddie Simpson 1.2 and Sharrod Wellingham 1.2.
Jackson Ramsay missed last week's loss to Perth for East Perth but returned with a bang on Saturday with 38 possessions, 10 tackles, seven marks and seven inside-50 entries.
Stan Wright continued his run of career-best form too with 26 possessions while Nelson Waite collected 25 disposals (13 marks), Shaquille McKenzie 21, Hille 19, Tom Gorter 19, Wellingham 18, Jaxon Cahill 18 and Joel Houghton 17.
Ajang had a huge game in the ruck too with 21 possessions, 10 marks, four tackles and 24 hit outs.
George Hampson continued his tremendous form for Swan Districts with another 28 possessions, four tackles and two goals while Dylan Smith came into the side to kick two majors and Leigh Kohlmann booted another two goals to give him 19 for the season.
Matt Riggio worked hard again in the midfield for Swans with 23 possessions while Tony Notte had another 23 disposals and nine marks down back.
Steven Payne finished with 21 disposals and 11 marks with Aidan Clarke picking up 21 touches, Mitch Howlett 19, Callum Garcia 18, Denzel More 18 and Corey Gault 17 to go with 25 hit outs in the ruck in the absence of Nathan Blakely.
SUBIACO 17.14 (116) defeated EAST FREMANTLE 7.4 (46)
Subiaco further extended its edge on top of the WAFL ladder and continued its dominance this century of East Fremantle with a 70-point victory at Leederville Oval on Saturday.
Subiaco continues to be the standard bearing team in the WAFL and Saturday's 17.14 (116) to 7.4 (46) has the Lions remaining two games and percentage clear on top of the ladder.
They did lose a rare game against South Fremantle back in Round 6 in their first defeat since the 2017 Grand Final, but Subiaco has now bounced back strongly with six successive wins at an average of 43.2 points.
Subiaco now looks on an unstoppable path to what would be a fifth successive minor premiership considering they are two games and percentage clear in top spot with only six matches remaining.
The game with East Fremantle on Saturday was virtually over as a contest by quarter-time with Subiaco holding the Sharks scoreless and kicking five goals themselves.
East Fremantle managed two goals in the second term but Subiaco kicked two more themselves too to head into half-time leading by six goals.
Subiaco kicked away further in the third quarter with five goals to one and then it was another five goals to four in the last term with the Lions romping to the 70-point triumph.
Ben Sokol had only kicked five goals since representing the WAFL State Team against South Fremantle at Optus Stadium, but he returned to some good form on Saturday for Subiaco with three goals from 19 possessions and 11 marks.
Ryan Borchet also kicked two goals for the Lions with Lachlan Delahunty chiming in with two to go with 30 possessions, 19 hit outs and 10 marks.
Ben Newton also did well at ground level with two goals from 26 disposals, eight inside-50 entries, five marks and four tackles.
Greg Clark finished with 26 possessions for the Lions, Kyal Horsley 24, Leigh Kitchin 23, Hayden Kennedy 22, Max Walters 22 and Harry Marsh 19.
Luke Strnadica stood up to kick three goals for East Fremantle while backing up Jonathon Griffin in the ruck who had 14 disposals, 37 hit outs and five tackles.
Nick Kommer racked up 25 possessions for the Sharks, Morgan Davies 22, Blaine Boekhorst 20 and Jarrad Jansen 17.