A Day To Savour To Open Finals For Swan Districts

Monday, September 4, 2017 - 2:22 PM

THE stage was set for a day to remember at Steel Blue Oval on Sunday and it delivered with Swan Districts' reserves and league sides recording stirring victories to stay alive while the colts remain in the AHG WAFL Finals Series as well.

Swan Districts qualified for the finals in fourth position but had lost four straight games including a 61-point loss to the lowly East Fremantle last Saturday so it was always going to take something special to turn that around on Sunday.

West Perth might not have been in much better form losing seven of 10 games entering the finals too, but the Falcons were a team used to being there come finals time and who appeared better equipped coming into the contest.

But there were plenty of reasons to be inspired for those at Swan Districts with Tony Notte celebrating his 200th game, Tallan Ames having announced his retirement and with coach Greg Harding also stepping down after the season having been at the helm since 2011.

Then with the added boost provided by stepping out in front of 5637 fans and while there were certainly plenty of West Perth supporters in attendance too, the atmosphere provided by Swans fans is always a unique one.

Swan Districts then came out inspired and with the breeze behind them, kicked the only five goals of the first quarter. West Perth responded with the only three of the second term and then the game was up for grabs with Swans eight points up by three quarter-time.

West Perth then kicked the first two goals of the last quarter, but Swan Districts responded in style with the next three and that secured the 11.9 (75) to 8.12 (60).

Swan Districts advances to play South Fremantle in Sunday's first semi-final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

Swan Districts' midfield was tremendous led by Ryan Crowley. His body might have been troubling him at times in 2017, but he shook that off on Sunday and put in a tremendous performance for 30 possessions and eight marks.

Fellow experienced on-baller Matt Riggio also had a big impact with 30 touches and six marks and Adam Faulkner was solid with 19 disposals.

It was Swans' wingmen who were particularly outstanding as well with Freddie Clutterbuck playing his best game since joining Swan Districts at the start of 2016 ending up with 29 possessions and nine marks, but more importantly two tremendous and crucial goals on the run including the sealer.

Jesse Turner also had a strong game on the other wing for the black-and-whites with 27 touches, eight marks and a goal.

Corey Gault battled hard in the ruck for 21 possessions and 31 hit outs but it was the retiring Tallan Ames who provided a real spark backing him up on the ball. His numbers of nine touches and five marks might not show it, but his energy had a big impact on the final result.

Jarrad Blight provided good run too for Swans with 23 disposals while the back-line stood up impressively highlighted by the job Sam Taylor did on Tyler Keitel. The 18-year-old held him to just one behind while having 18 possessions and four marks himself.

Tobe Watson was terrific also in defence with 19 possessions and four tackles in his third game. Tony Notte was his usual rock solid self with 16 touches and seven marks in his 200th game.

Kirk Ugle started on fire and had a fascinating battle with Andrew Strijk all day finishing with 16 touches and a goal.

Jamie Bennell, Taryce Stewart and Ricky Cary all kicked two goals each as well for Swan Districts.

Despite coming into the game on the back of four straight losses and then a 10-goal defeat to the lowly East Fremantle, Swans came out an inspired outfit with their season on the line. Things got underway with a powerful kick truly by Ricky Cary from outside 50.

West Perth then had plenty of opportunities but couldn’t convert and Swans made them pay when Kirk Ugle ran off Andrew Strijk to kick a terrific goal.

Jamie Bennell then delivered one of the goals of the season when he ran from the middle of the ground and with no player inside his forward 50, he outrun his West Perth opponents and drilled the goal from 40.

Jesse Turner then kicked another and so did the returning Levi Ridley as Swans opened up a commanding 26-point quarter-time advantage.

West Perth needed to respond and did starting the second quarter with some crisp ball movement before Luke Meadows swopped and snapped truly for the Falcons' first of the day 45 seconds into the term.

Strijk then enjoyed going to the attacking end drilled one on the run from 55 and when he kicked another with a set shot from 50 as well, the margin was just six points and Swans' lead was only seven by half-time.

Swans were again kicking with the breeze to start the third term and it paid immediate dividends when Bennell bombed one from just on the edge of the centre square that bounced through to put his team 13 points in front.

But West Perth responded with the first goal into the breeze for the day and it was a beauty from Aidan Lynch deep in the pocket. Shane Nelson then soon added another after a strong tackle earned him a holding the ball free-kick on Matt Riggio.

A terrific goal on the run in front of the packed outer bank regained the lead for Swan Districts but only briefly with Michael Lourey's first of the day for West Perth drawing scores level once more.

But the black-and-whites went into three quarter-time with the eight-point advantage after a late goal from Cary.

That had the contest evenly poised with Swans eight points up but the Falcons going towards the scoring end. That looked like giving West Perth the edge when Tyson Moulton and Lourey kicked goals to start the last term and the Falcons were two points in front at the seven-minute mark.

Passion and heart counts for a lot, though, and that's what Swans showed in spades with not only their seasons on the line, but the careers of a favourite son and their coach, and with it being the 200th game of another outstanding servant.

Small forward Taryce Stewart was well held all day by West Perth's Scott Nelson but he bobbed up for two goals in three minutes to put Swans back on top and then when Clutterbuck delivered his second running goal of the day to cap his best performance with the club, the game was over.

Swans went on to claim the 15-point victory and to do it in style in front of their raucous home fans who revelled in the celebrations afterwards with Tony Notte chaired off and then Tallan Ames celebrating as only he can in his final ever game at Bassendean.

The day began at Steel Blue Oval on Sunday with Swan Districts taking on Claremont in a qualifying final, with the Tigers prevailing 9.11 (65) to 6.11 (47).

The win means Claremont advances to the second semi-final against East Fremantle Sunday at Leederville Oval while Swans will play East Perth in the first semi-final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

Aidan Clarke kicked four goals for Swan Districts from 10 kicks and four marks. Patrick Farrant and Stephen Hay were the other goal kickers.

Gregory Ottaviano gathered 29 possessions for Swans, Lochie Huntley 24, Riley Garcia 17, Thomas Whittle 17 and Jack O'Sullivan 17.

It was then time for the reserves elimination final at Steel Blue Oval and it was a cracking contest between two desperate teams from Perth and Swan Districts.

In the end, Swans held on for the thrilling 14.10 (94) to 13.11 (89) victory after Perth's Cody Leggett hit the post with a running shot on goal with time running out.

Swan Districts' reserves advance to the first semi-final against Claremont at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday while the season is over in all three grades for Perth.

Jake Nuich delivered a strong performance for Swans with three goals along with 14 possessions, eight marks and 15 hit outs. Steven Wityk also kicked three goals, Brody Sutton two and Giles Dent two.

Josh Cipro amassed 27 possessions for the black-and-whites, Jackson Slater 21, Jesse Manton 20, Chad Daniels 20, David McKay 19, Josh Power 19, Ethan Maguire 19 and Brayden Hackett 18 while Troy Yukich had another 42 hit outs.

SWAN DISTRICTS  5.1 5.2 8.5 11.9 (75)
WEST PERTH   0.5 3.7 6.9 8.12 (60)

SWAN DISTRICTS – Goals: Bennell, Stewart, Cary, Clutterbuck 2; Ugle, Turner, Ridley.
Best: Crowley, Riggio, Clutterbuck, Taylor, Blight, Watson, Notte.
WEST PERTH – Goals: Strijk, Lourey 2; Meadows, Lynch, Shane Nelson, Moulton.
Best: Simpson, Shane Nelson, Black, Munns, van Berlo, Potente, Wilhelm.

By Chris Pike.