The Swan Districts Round 9 Wrap-Up

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 9:25 AM by Matthew Ogg

Round 9 of the 2020 Optus WAFL Premiership Season was the last chance for all three Swan Districts men’s sides to take to the field, having failed to qualify for finals this year.

It also saw the retirement of Steven Payne, along with Matt Riggio playing his 200th game in the black and white.

Check out the breakdown of each game below…


WAFL Colts

With finals out of reach for the young Swans, Sunday morning’s game still came with two key objectives. Win and:

  • Get off the bottom of the ladder (realistically as high as sixth position), and
  • Stop East Fremantle making it into this season’s finals series.

The opening few minutes of the game saw both teams rebounding the ball inside their forward 50m, with the Sharks the first to score at the 5min mark. The Swans controlled the ball, pushing it forward but struggled to score from set shots. It took a nice snap from Ayden Cartwright to get the visitors on the board and even the scores up. A late goal from East Fremantle, after the umpires awarded a holding the ball free kick saw them take a six point lead into quarter time. Zane Trew continued his solid and consistent form, leading all possession getters with 11 disposals and four tackles.

As has been the case all season, minor scores in the second plagued the Swans, managing just six behinds for the quarter, receiving little reward for the effort being shown on the field. The Sharks adding to their lead with a couple more goals going into the main break.

The increased intent on the ball in the third saw the black ducks start hitting the scoreboard once more, Cartwright kicking his second, Jamison Ugle snapping truly and a soccer goal from Joseph Salmon closed the gap to a single kick. After a tough day which saw Josh Middleton finding it hard to impose himself on the game, he took a mark from the back of the pack, kicked his first for the day and put his side up by four points going into the final term.

It took 12 minutes for a goal to be scored in the fourth, as the contest heated up in the warm weather. It was the Sharks who would get on the board first, to regain the lead. Another shortly after proved enough for East Fremantle to knock off a valiant Swans Colts side, taking the game; EF 7.8 [50] to SD 5.10 [40].

Trew was voted as best on ground with 32 possessions and 10 tackles, along with Ugle, Cartwright, Salmon and Will Collins.

Coach Simon Bergin said although it was a close game, it was disappointing that they let this one slip away.

“We were good enough to win that game and win that game well” he said. “Unfortunately again we probably only really played one and a half quarters of really solid footy.”

“Our first half was disappointing again, but the boys came out in the third quarter and performed amazingly.

“East Fremantle were fighting for a top four spot and they showed in the fourth quarter that they probably wanted it more than us.”

With draft talk surrounding Zane Trew, it could have been the last time supporters saw him wearing the black and white jersey.

“I knew it was our last game of the season and I just wanted to give it my all to help the team try to win” Trew said.

“It was disappointing that we didn’t win, but the boys fought really well and I believe I played my part in trying to get the victory.”

After being tagged strongly throughout the game, while still being the leading possession getter on the ground, Trew said it has been a good opportunity for him to learn how to push through opponents whose objectives are to try get under his skin.

“It’s been happening for most of the season” he said.

“You just need to ignore it, not let it get to you and just play your game.

“I think I have been able to do a good job of that, especially over this last month or so when I’ve been tagged pretty heavily.”

WAFL Reserves

Another hotly contested game of footy followed the Colts game, as the Reserves took to the field.

It took 11 minutes to register the first goal of the game, Tom Edwards converting from directly in front after receiving a free kick. It didn’t take long for Edwards to notch up his second with a beautiful snap from the tightest of angles from a Sharks out on the full call. Ryan Letessier added another from 50m before Eric Bashemule scored from the pocket, taking a 28-point lead into the first break, holding the home side scoreless in the quarter.

It was all the Sharks in the second quarter, piling on 5 consecutive goals by using the breeze to their advantage to take the lead and be up by two points at the halftime break.

Neither team could break free from the others grasp for the majority of the third quarter, seeing the ball constantly rebounded out of defence from both ends of the ground. Two late goals from Denholm Melrose and Jack Cox, followed by one for the Sharks before the siren saw just one kick separating the teams going into the final term.

Held scoreless in the last quarter, the Swans were under the pump against the breeze, with East Fremantle kicking four goals to blow out all the hard work the black and whites had put in all day, going down; EF 10.3 [63] to SD 6.7 [43].

WAFL League

Out of finals contention, the League side still had plenty to play for on Sunday afternoon. Three of these reasons included:

  • Co-captain Matt Riggio was playing his 200th game for Swan Districts,
  • Steven Payne had announced his retirement and was playing his last game of WAFL footy, and
  • With all the talk around Denver Grainger-Barras being picked up in this year’s AFL Draft, was he playing his last game in Swan Districts colours?

Steven Payne won the coin toss, taking the risky but clever choice of kicking against the wind in the first quarter. East Fremantle struggled to use the strong breeze to their advantage, being held to just one goal by an impressive Swans defence. Adapting to the conditions, it was the milestone man, Riggio, who got the black ducks on the board to see just a single point separating the two teams at quarter time. Coach, Adam Pickering was proud of the effort of his troops who were up 18 contested possessions and 6 clearances on their opponents. Pickering also reinforced to the team who and what they were playing for, and to think about that when they went into every contest around the ground.

If you did not have the chance to watch the game on television, it is strongly recommended that you watch the highlights package that was the Swans goals from the second quarter. Jesse Turner started the term off with a lovely long bomb from 50m, followed by a Leigh Kohlmann mark and goal to take a two-kick lead. It was can only be described as a case of deja vu, Turner took the ball from a clearance and repeated his efforts from earlier in the quarter, bouncing through another from almost the exact same spot. As the Swans looked to get the ball in deep, a couple of lucky bounces along with a beautiful check-side for Riggio’s third saw them head into halftime with a 24 point buffer. Turner leading all possession getters with 17 at the main break.

The Sharks came out of the blocks quickly in the third, converting in front of goal just a minute and a half into the term. Brayden Noble kicked the settler 11 minutes in after a strong grab and snap up forward. A deliberate out of bounds call, followed with a 50m penalty saw Sam Fisher put another one through from the top of the goal square to give his side a great lead heading into the final term.

The black and whites continued to control the flow of the game in the fourth, but were unable to put the game away early, kicking five behinds to start the term. Midway through the quarter saw East Fremantle kick a couple of back to back goals to close the gap to just 18. However, nothing could stop a rampaging Turner, kicking his third for the day shortly after to give the Swans some breathing room. A goal from the square by Lachlan Riley was enough to put the game out of reach, as the Swans ran out victors; EF 6.8 [44] to SD 11.9 [75].

With 32 possessions, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50’s and 3 goals, Jess Turner was clearly the best on ground, along with Frank Anderson, Brandon Erceg, Corey Gault and Sam Fisher.

Steven Payne retired having played 153 WAFL games across two clubs; 109 with East Perth and 44 with Swan Districts, along with three Foxtel games. Leaving East Perth during 2017, at a time when the Royals had aligned with West Coast, he headed back down south to finish the season with Augusta Margaret River. After hearing Adam Pickering had received the head coach role at the Swans, Payne sent him a text to ask him what the chances were of him playing for the black and whites. He was told that if he was fit and ready to go, he could come and train with the team, but had to earn his spot at the club. A few years later, Payne’s leadership both on and off the field will be remembered at the club for a very long time. Grateful for the chance ‘Pickers’ gave him, Payne said that being at the Swans helped him love playing the game once more.

“The last three years I’ve probably enjoyed my football more than at almost any time in my career, besides maybe when we were winning grand finals at East Perth” he said.

“The club have been awesome and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

After a busy month for Matt Riggio, having celebrated a trilogy of 200 game milestones (200 games including state games, 200 WAFL games and 200 Swan Districts games), putting on the black and white jumper is the one that means the most to him.

“My family came up to celebrate this one with me” he said.

“To play 200 games for one club is a pretty hard thing to do and I think there’s less than 20 that have done it, which is a great achievement.

“I’m really proud to have reached this milestone with Swan Districts.”

One of this year’s AFL draft prospects, Denver Grainger-Barras, has made a great impression across a strong Swans backline in his first full season of senior football. His closing speed and athleticism shone in defence, proving he earned his spot in the team week in and week out. Matching up against - and beating - former AFL players and other draft prospects alike, Grainger-Barras is truly appreciative of the teammates he has learnt from and the opportunities the club has given him.

“This season personally was a massive year for my development” he said. “I worked really closely with Tony Notte when he was down back, Alex Howard, Brandon Erceg and the other guys to pick their brains so I could keep getting better.”

“The club has encouraged me to play my game, back myself and gain more confidence in my ability.

“If I do get drafted, it’ll be like leaving home because I have been here since I was 12.

“I love the club and the culture it’s instilled in me. I’m truly grateful for the people who have helped me through all the grades, including the support staff and my team mates.

“The possibility of not being here anymore is a little daunting, and I am grateful for everything the Swans have done to help me live my dream.