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West Perth rue missing experience and final quarter fade-out

Monday, April 29, 2024 - 10:08 AM
West Perth rue missing experience and final quarter fade-out.
The return of versatile Noah Pegoraro and a group of other experienced players cannot come soon enough for West Perth after their second galling loss in as many rounds.
The Falcons have led during or close to time-on in the last quarter in all four matches this season.
But just as they did against Subiaco two weeks ago, West Perth could not sustain their impact in the final moments against South Fremantle.
The Bulldogs had all the momentum in the last 10 minutes of the Anzac Day round at Pentanet Stadium on Saturday as they produced the last five scoring shots of the match to win by 18 points.
The presence of 98-year-old Neil Garland, West Perth’s oldest surviving premiership player and World War II veteran, was a reminder of the great battles between the two clubs in the post war years.
West Perth played in 10 consecutive second semifinals in that era, but won only two flags as South won six premierships in eight seasons.
The-then Cardinals were outpointed by South Fremantle in four of those grand finals and the same trait was evident on Saturday when West Perth could not counter the class of Sandover medallist Haiden Schloithe who has returned after a season’s sabbatical and used his considerable nous and skill to expose the home team’s lack of experience in defence.
The absence of Pegoraro, who is close to a return after a hamstring strain, was keenly felt with the tallest defender being 186cm Dean Munns who was required to stand the 198cm Zac Strom.
Munns and likely State defender Zac Guadagnin battled manfully against bigger opponents but struggled to counter South’s more precise ball movement and greater efficiency.
West Perth also failed to take their chances with veteran full-forward Tyler Keitel (5.3) and Jack Demarte (2.1) the only goal-scorers in the 10.11 (71) to 7.11 (53) result.
Keitel started strongly with the first score within 30 seconds, a 60m bomb hitting the post and two more goals providing a four-point lead in the vibrant opening term.
But there were already signs of South’s greater efficiency with the ball locked in West Perth’s forward line for long periods before quick rebounds allowed the Bulldogs to score four goals at the other end.
Keitel added another two majors throughout the game to take him to 332 for the club, one more than champion rover Les Fong.
The spearhead is now the fourth-highest goal-kicker in West Perth history with Anthony Tsalikis (336) within his sights.
Overtaking Australian football Hall of Famers Ted Tyson (1197) and Ray Scott (910) may have to wait a little longer.
Teenager Jasper Scaife has been a revelation in the opening month but could not impose himself on the contest as he has done previously.
Increasing expectations and the presence of North Melbourne recruiter Brady Rawlings, who is likely to have the No.1 pick at next month’s AFL midseason rookie draft, may have inhibited the powerful youngster though he continued to move well and present at contests where he claimed four contested marks.
His early set shot was off-line and though he had another chance to shoot for goal from long range, he was more focused on finding a team-mate.
West Perth had issues in the midfield despite Connor West (25 disposals) and Shane Nelson (26) contributing strongly against a potent Bulldogs combination.
Both Falcons won 15 contested possessions but were often under extreme pressure and could not make full use of the relative ruck advantage provided by Brock Carter.
The bright first quarter gave way to two gruelling terms in which each team laboured to score two goals apiece.
West Perth led by a point at the last break and increased that to two when Keitel kicked his fifth goal 10 minutes after the restart.
But that was to be the last score with the final 20 minutes belonging to the visitors who took control of the contest, kicked the next three goals and did not appear likely to surrender their lead.
WEST PERTH 4.4 5.8 6.9 7.11 53
SOUTH FREMANTLE 4.0 6.4 6.8 10.11 71
GOALS - WEST PERTH: Keitel 5; Demarte 2.
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Main 3; Strom 2; Schloithe, Winder, Turnbull, Colborne, Ferreira.
BEST - WEST PERTH: Keitel, West, Sh Nelson, Julian, Guadagnin.
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Schloithe, Parker, Z Strom, Blechynden, Colborne.