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Party time for West Perth as Nelson, Guadagnin celebrate

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 - 12:29 PM
Party time for West Perth as Nelson, Guadagnin celebrate
Shane Nelson celebrated a birthday but it was West Perth who had the party after finally ending their month-long losing streak.
Nelson’s old mate Aaron Black chipped a short pass to him in front of goal to provide a generous present as the Falcons responded to their worst performance in recent seasons with an emphatic win over West Coast at Pentanet Stadium on Saturday.
Thirteen individual goal-kickers helped West Perth get within eight points of becoming just the third WAFL team to follow a 100-point loss with a three-figure victory as they overwhelmed a game but undermanned Eagles.
The 92-point win, 24.12 (156) to 10.4 (64), regained most of the 30 percentage points lost in the Peel disaster and propelled the Falcons back into fourth place.
But it was the return to their best playing method that Nelson identified as the most significant factor as he marked his 31st birthday with a strong showing in the midfield and 100-gamer Zac Guadagnin observed his own milestone with a brilliant game in defence.
“We were very keen to turn things around after a disappointing performance against Peel,” Nelson said.
“Our physical pressure around the footy hasn’t been great in the past few weeks.
“Peel are a good running side and they got hold of us because we didn’t apply enough physical pressure to them and didn’t stop them enough.
“A big focus this week was to try and lock that down and try and make it at break-even at least.
“We wanted to make it a more physical contest and not be dictated to.
“That was the focus today and it’s going to be the focus going forward.”
The approach worked so well that West Perth kicked five goals directly from centre clearances while their midfield brigade dominated against an opponent with only one midfield winner in Jai Culley.
Nelson had 37 disposals but also ran hard to put himself into position to receive 17 handballs, Connor West (34 disposals and seven clearances) and Kane Bevan (22 and five) were prominent all day while Luke Meadows capped a 26-touch game with a 60m bomb late in the third term.
Yet for all the good work around the ball, no player was more effective than nuggetty all-rounder Sasha Kernutt who won the ball 25 times, took 12 marks and kicked four goals.
He might have finished with five majors only for a late shot from close range that was a half shank-half pass that enabled Tyler Keitel to kick his sixth of the day.
Keitel opened the scoring with a neat snap 20 seconds into the match and went past Anthony Tsalikis as West Perth’s third highest goal-scorer when he kicked his third before half-time.
Guadagnin was a revelation in defence.
The senior member of the division given the absence of Dean Munns, Noah Pegoraro and ben Johnson, and Tyson Moulton’s return after a long absence, Guadagnin lived up to his billing with one of the best displays of his career.
He was responsible for nearly half of West Perth’s intercept possessions in their defensive 50, delivered the ball at a remarkable 96% efficiency for 23 disposals and was rarely beaten in one-on-one contests.
Like Nelson, West, Bevan, Kernutt, Keitel and livewire wingman Joe Hinder, Guadagnin responded to his team’s decline with the best performance of the season.
Now that is something to celebrate.
WEST PERTH 6.2 14.5 19.8 24.12 156
WEST COAST 3.1 6.2 8.3 10.4 64
GOALS - WEST PERTH: Keitel 6; Kernutt 4; Black, Lynch, Demarte 2; Meadows, Knott, Hinder, Sh Nelson, Bevan, Todd, Scaife, West.
WEST COAST: Lucassen 3; Culley 2; Hall, Livingston, Creasey, Alone, Hutchinson.
BEST - WEST PERTH: Kernutt, Guadagnin, West, Sh Nelson, Bevan, Keitel.
WEST COAST: Culley, Lucassen, Sparks, Ruscoe, Gaff, Hall.