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Munns impact not enough to snatch nail-biter

Monday, April 15, 2024 - 10:13 AM
Munns impact not enough to snatch nail-biter
West Perth fought their way to the front by a point or two in every quarter against Subiaco but could not wrest the lead in the crucial final moments as they lost their first match of the season.
Underlining how tight the opening three rounds of the WAFL season have been, the 10.9 (69) to 8.17 (65) result meant the Falcons dropped to third place as one of six teams with two wins.
Subiaco are one spot further back while West Perth’s next two opponents, South Fremantle (second) and Peel (fifth), may be rivals for a final position come September.
The competition is so fierce that virtually every match could be classed as an eight-point contest and that protecting and enhancing percentage will be a crucial part of the season.
Neither factor appeared likely in the first term at Leederville Oval on Saturday when West Perth remained goalless and the Lions, who built a lead of 21 points at the break, looked set to run away with the win.
Spiritual home Leederville has not been a happy hunting ground for the Falcons in the past decade – with one notable exception in 2022 – with 17 losses from the 22 games in that period.
But no one told the West Perth stalwarts that victory was not on the agenda.
Captain Dean Munns produced a superb shutdown job on regular State forward Ben Sokol that was reminiscent of the Falcon’s first season at the club.
Sokol was kept to just three kicks and his only goal came from a free kick paid off the ball for an infringement by another player.
And the midfield, led by veteran Shane Nelson with 11 of his eventual 32 disposals, got on top in that battle and twin talls Tyler Keitel and Jasper Scaife provided effective targets in attack.
The two keys forwards landed early goals, Nelson helped snatch the lead when he added one of his own by following up his own work, and suddenly the game was back on an even keel.
West Perth felt the absence of injured first-choice players Noah Pegoraro, Ben Johnson and Sasha Kernutt but found capable contributors in Kane Bevan and Griff Julian.
Then the powerful Scaife, who stands 197cm and appears to have an enormous future in football, made his mark again with a couple more majors in the third quarter as the Falcons again fought their way in front.
Subiaco responded but Keitel added another on the verge of the three quarter-time siren to leave the margin at six points and foreshadow a riveting last quarter.
Inaccurate kicking for goal was a frustrating feature of the second term and so it was to be again in the last. 
Nelson, Bevan and centreman Luke Meadows took advantage of Glenelg recruit Brock Carter’s strong work in the ruck but errant shots for goal meant the labour was not fully rewarded.
Keitel’s two goals came from 10 attempts while a couple of other set shot misses from close range proved costly.
Zac Patterson snatched the lead with his first major but it was short-lived as Leigh Kitchin responded before Bevan put his team in front during time-on.
There were shades of the nail-biting round 1 win over Claremont in the desperate finish as Richie Bartlett won back the lead for Subiaco only for Keitel to have the chance to mirror Keegan Knott’s sealer in that thriller.
It was not to be. Keitel’s snap went wide, the siren sounded soon afterwards and Subiaco had hung on by four points.
WEST PERTH 0.4 3.10 6.11 8.17 65
SUBIACO 4.1 6.2 8.5 10.9 69
GOALS - WEST PERTH: Scaife 3; Keitel 2; Bevan, Patterson, Sh Nelson.
SUBIACO: Mayo, W Hickmott 2; Borchet, Stergiou, Kitchin, Sokol, Foley, Bartlett.
BEST - WEST PERTH: Munns, Sh Nelson, Scaife, Meadows, Bevan, West, Carter.
SUBIACO: Clark, Mayo, L Hickmott, Foley, Kitchin.