League: Ferocious Tigers Roar Past Royals

Monday, September 3, 2018 - 10:59 AM

Photo by Gary Day

Article by Daniel Scamozzi

An outstanding team performance from Claremont resulted in a commanding 28-point win against East Perth in glorious conditions in the elimination final at a packed Claremont Oval in week one of the 2018 TABtouch WAFL Finals Series.

A determined mindset, terrific intensity, fierce and relentless pressure, ferocious tackling and a buy-in from the whole team epitomised the 12.11 (83) to 8.7 (55) triumph, with the Tigers now set to face West Perth in the first semifinal at Joondalup Arena on Sunday.

The Tigers’ fourth consecutive win, third against the Royals this season and first in the finals since 2012 was built on the back of a dominant three-goals-to-nil opening term, including 15 more contested disposals, 17 more inside 50s and eight more scoring shots.

Despite momentum changing several times after quarter-time, the Tigers were always in control of the contest and ended up recording 57 more disposals, 22 more marks, 12 more tackles, 23 more inside 50s and eight more scoring shots as they ended the Royals’ season.

Co-vice-captain and outstanding midfielder Kane Mitchell (25 disposals) celebrated his 100th game with a typically inspirational performance, shrugging off a shoulder concern to lay a game-high 13 tackles and finish as Claremont’s best player and deservedly win the players’ player award.

The tireless Tiger was then chaired from the ground by captain Ian Richardson and the dashing Jack Beeck before the Tigers belted out the club song with him in the middle.

Forward Tom Lee provided an imposing focal point and hauled in eight marks and kicked a game-high five goals as he tore the Royals’ defence to shreds, while teenager Jordan Clark took a game-high 10 marks in a typically composed and brilliant performance across half-back.

Ruckman Oliver Eastland (18 disposals, 31 hit-outs) gave the Tigers tremendous service and won a game-high six free kicks, while utility Haydn Busher (22 disposals, two goals) was prominent and kicked the goal of the day in the third term.

The Royals were well served by former Tigers Pat McGinnity and Francis Watson, but couldn’t match the hosts’ endeavour and commitment.

Hardworking forward Jordan Law replaced midfielder Tom Curren (omitted) in the team that defeated Swan Districts in round 21, as the Tigers elected to kick to the southern end of the ground in the opening term.

The first of five goals to Lee came in the eighth minute and was the result of the Tigers locking the ball in their front half through relentless pressing and pressure, before repeat efforts at half-back from Clark epitomised the team’s appetite for the contest.

Tyron Smallwood then bounced through a miraculous snap from the pocket, before more fierce tackling and pressure suffocated the Royals.

Co-vice-captain Ryan Lim then banged through the Tigers’ third major, giving the hosts a 23-point lead at quarter-time.

3.6 to 0.1 was an indication that the Tigers should have been further ahead, though the significant advantage in contested disposals and inside 50s delighted coach Darren Harris.

A spearing pass from midfielder Jye Bolton resulted in a second goal to Lee and gave the Tigers a great start to the second term and extended the lead to 29 points, before West Coast’s Oscar Allen got the Royals on the board.

A 50m penalty then allowed ruckman Ajang Ajang to give the Royals consecutive majors and trimmed the Tigers’ lead to 16 points at half-time, with the hosts now +20 in inside 50s.

Goals to Nathan Blee and Ajang (second) gave the Royals four in a row and pulled them to within four points early in the second half, before forward Alex Manuel kicked a timely major for the Tigers after a courageous mark and great pass from Keifer Yu.

Richardson then made the most of a squaring pass from Bolton, before Busher evaded an opponent and brilliantly split the middle from a tight angle to give the Tigers three consecutive goals and a 23-point lead.

Lee soon made it 29 with his third major after a spearing left-footed pass from Tom Ledger, before late goals from Matt Allen and Brendon Ah Chee pulled the Royals to within 16 points at the final change.

Harris implored the Tigers to improve their efforts in contested disposal, before a second major from Oscar Allen gave the Royals three consecutive goals and pulled them to within nine points early in the final term.

A swift transition from defence ended with another strong mark from Lee, who selflessly handballed to Yu, allowing the tenacious Tiger to kick the team’s ninth goal before Busher made the Royals pay from a 50m penalty with his second major.

Lee then kicked his fourth and fifth goals to give the Tigers a game-high 34-point lead, before a goal from West Coast’s Jack Petruccelle after the siren mattered little to the result as the Tigers recorded a memorable win in front of an adoring Tiger Army.

CLAREMONT 3.6 4.7 8.8 12.11 (83)

EAST PERTH 0.1 2.3 6.4 8.7 (55)

GOALS

CLAREMONT: 5 T. Lee, 2 H. Busher, 1 K. Yu, I. Richardson, R. Lim, A. Manuel, T. Smallwood.

EAST PERTH: 2 A. Ajang, O. Allen, 1 N. Blee, M. Allen, J. Petruccelle, B. Ah Chee.

BEST

CLAREMONT: K. Mitchell, T. Lee, J. Clark, O. Eastland, H. Busher.

EAST PERTH: P. McGinnity, B. Ah Chee, F. Watson, O. Allen.

CROWD: 3, 669 at Claremont Oval.