ROUND three of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) had it all – with comebacks, beltings, and upsets showcasing the unpredictable nature of season 2018.
In the biggest surprise of all, reigning premier Peel Thunder succumbed to last year’s wooden spoon winners Perth 11.13 (79) to 12.13 (85) in Mandurah. The Thunder were challenged from the outset, as the Demons applied ferocious forward half pressure to lead by a goal at quarter and half time. Led by former St Kilda player Spencer White, who was phenomenal with five goals, the third quarter saw the Demons make their break, booting seven majors to two as they headed to the final change with a 38-point lead. However, the Thunder switched on and goals to Shane Kersten and Gerard Ugle saw the Mandurah side get within six points as only minutes remained. Yet, the Demons held on to prevail and register their first win of 2018. For the Demons, another former Saints player Clinton Jones was a workhorse with 35 disposals, while new recruit and former Essendon player Ben Howlett led the way for the Thunder with 33 disposals.
Claremont staged a thrilling victory over East Fremantle, with midfielder Keifer Yu booting a goal on the full-time siren to give the Tigers a 12.11 (83) to 11.13 (79) win at Claremont Oval. The Tigers found themselves in early trouble as they trailed by 27 points deep in the second quarter. However, a four goal performance from forward Alex Manuel helped steady Claremont, as they re-took the lead heading into the final quarter. Despite four goals from former Collingwood rookie Jack Perham helping the Sharks to a winning position, Yu’s mark and consequent goal sunk the East Fremantle side at the very last gasp. Souring the win for Claremont was a knee injury to club favourite Kane Mitchell, who took no further part in the game after half time.
Subiaco sent a clear message to the rest of the competition after a thumping win over Swan Districts. In a battle of the only two undefeated teams so far in 2018, the Lions roared with a 21.12 (140) to 6.8 (44) victory. The Black and Whites got off to an ideal start, leading by two goals at quarter time in what looked to be an even tussle. However, Subiaco held the Swans scoreless in the second quarter, while kicking six goals of their own to turn the match on its head. After half-time, matters worsened for Swan Districts, with the Lions piling on 12 goals to one. For Subiaco, forwards Ben Sokol and Bradley Stevenson had a field day with four goals each, while Christopher Phelan and Josh Deluca both had 32 and 31 disposal games respectively. A two-goal and 20-disposal game for Rhys Palmer provided the only real highlight for the Black and Whites in what was a bitter defeat at Leederville Oval.
In a tight affair at Arena Joondalup, West Perth could not hold off a fast finishing South Fremantle, losing 13.10 (88) to 15.6 (96). After the Falcons exploded with a five goal to one first quarter, the Bulldogs fought back to remarkably take a one-point lead at half time. The third quarter proved a tight tussle, as goal for goal blows saw West Perth take a slender one goal lead at three quarter time. In the final quarter however, the Bulldogs took control as Hayden Schloithe dominated the midfield battle with 28 disposals, while also hitting the scoreboard with four goals. As South Fremantle put on a four goals to one final quarter, it was only fitting that Schloithe convert the match sealing goal in the dying moments of the game. Shane Nelson was phenomenal in the Falcons loss with 41 disposals, while young forward Tyler Keitel showed great signs with three goals.