Home League: BROWNE RETURNS AFTER 322 DAYS
League: BROWNE RETURNS AFTER 322 DAYS
Posted on 15/08/2012
By Ken Casellas
About seven minutes into the final quarter at Claremont Oval on Saturday the Tigers were leading bottom side Peel Thunder 74 points and home team supporters were sitting back, relaxing in the glow of another victory.
But it was business as usual for the Claremont players as they showed no signs of relinquishing their grip on the contest or losing their focus. Peel were attacking and one of their players was charging towards a loose ball on the half-forward line.
He was foiled as Andrew Browne, revealing typical courage, dived headlong on to the ball to wreck any possibility of the Thunder gaining possession. The ball was cleared out of danger and the Tigers continued on their merry way to record a splendid 81-point victory to retain top spot on the premiership table.
It was a day of celebration, with Browne, in his first year as club captain, making his long-awaited return to league ranks, his first appearance in a WAFL league fixture for 322 days. His previous league match was the 2011 grand final when Claremont triumphed over Subiaco.
Browne has recovered fully from ankle surgery and hamstring problems and is looking forward for another successful finals campaign. He played mainly on a wing against Peel and was a strong contributor with ten marks, 13 kicks and nine effective handpasses. He also scored two of Claremont’s 20 goals.
The Tigers, in action for the first time since beating Werribee by 44 points in the Foxtel Cup grand final nine nights earlier, were slow into stride against the Thunder, who played hard man-on-man football in the opening quarter to restrict the home side to 3.3 in fine, sunny conditions. The Claremont players lifted their rating after quarter time and dominated the final three quarters to win, 20.12 to 7.9.
Andrew Ruck held control in the ruck, the midfielders held sway, the side had ten individual goalscorers and the defence was strong, spirited and unyielding. Peel penetrated their 50m attacking zone 41 times to Claremont’s 52, but found goalscoring extremely difficult.
Once again David Crawford, in a back pocket and on a half-back flank, was a shining light. Opposed by Brad Holmes, David Johnston and Ash Thornton, Crawford excelled, frequently using spoiling tactics with telling effect. The golden glove (or fearsome fist) of Crawford effected a match-high nine spoils. He also took four marks, had 12 kicks and made seven effective handpasses.
And for good measure, Crawford surged downfield a couple of times and booted two goals. Co-defender James Thomson also got into the act with a last-quarter major.
Jesse Laurie also was a magnificent defender, small forward Alroy Gilligan charmed the crowd with his delightful skills and Kane Mitchell maintained his superb form with 14 kicks, eight effective handpasses, a match-high ten tackles, eight clearances from stoppages and seven inside 50s.
Peel opened proceedings by scoring two behinds before Claremont posted the first goal of the contest after nine minutes, a free-kick to Brad Nisbett after a cohesive passage of play involving Rory Walton, Aaron Holt, Thomson, Laurie and Ruck.
Nisbett then gained the clearance at the centre bounce. He handpassed to winger Lewis Stevenson, who passed to Ruck, whose excellent pass was marked by Chad Jones. But a poster was the result.
A move involving Brandon Franz, Jeremy McGovern, Thomson, Stevenson and Laurie ended with Browne marking 45m out and booting Claremont’s second goal. A free-kick to Kristin Thornton gave Peel their first goal and Claremont replied through Ian Richardson after he had accepted a splendid pass from Byron Schammer, following a move involving Laurie, Jarryd Morton, Tom Taylor and Jack Bradshaw.
There were furrowed brows in the crowd after Thornton booted a goal early in the second term to put Peel in front by a point. It took Claremont five minutes to regain the lead --- after Ruck had got the ball forward to the lively Gilligan for the first of his three goals.
Another seven minutes passed before Walton gained the clearance from a boundary throw-in at left half-forward and passed to Jones for Claremont’s fifth major. The Tigers scored the next three goals, the first of those coming after McGovern marked a Peel clearing kick, played on and passed to Browne for his second.
A sortie down the left flank involving Mitchell and Nisbett ended with Gilligan cleverly eluding two opponents and snapping a goal. Moments later Gilligan passed to Richardson, who fired a wonderful pass to Tom Lee for another goal. Soon after that Lee handballed to Andrew Foster, whose delicate left-foot pass saw Gilligan leap to pull down a fine mark over Thornton. But this time Gilligan was just off target.
Peel’s Drew Robinson kicked the ball into play after Gilligan’s behind. Richardson chopped off the kick, took the mark and kicked a goal. Claremont led 9.7 to 3.6 at half-time, an excellent result after going inside 50 21 times to Peel’s 20.
It was six goals to one as Claremont asserted their authority in the third term. Lee scored the first two of those goals (after marking a pass from Laurie and a pass from Bradshaw, following some good work from Gilligan and Walton). Schammer got the next after a Peel out-of-bounds on the full, followed by a 50m penalty.
Then Bradshaw got the next two goals, the first coming after Taylor, Schammer and Mitchell had combined to send the ball forward. His second came after a grand effort from Lee, who applied a strong tackle on Peel’s Ash Thornton as he was attempting to clear the ball out of defence. Thornton was caught holding the ball. Lee earned a free-kick. His pass was marked by Bradshaw, who played on and hooked a goal a la Steve Johnson.
Bradshaw was in the thick of the action two minutes later. McGovern passed to Browne, whose pass was marked by Gilligan. Then the Gilligan handpass to Thomson resulted in a diving mark to Bradshaw, Unselfishly, Bradshaw centred the ball to Crawford 40m out for the side’s 15th major.
It took 90 seconds for Claremont’s first final-quarter goal. Thomson took a mark on the right wing and then received a 50m penalty. His flour bag punt sailed through the big sticks. Three minutes later handpasses from Schammer and Richardson enabled Crawford to boot his second.
Stevenson, Walton, Jones and Gilligan combined to get the ball to Bradshaw, who shrugged off a tackle and handpassed back to Gilligan, who used his non-preferred left foot for his third goal. The next came after Walton earned a free-kick and a 50m penalty 45m out. Walton opted for a short pass to Lee for the tousle-haired one’s fourth major.
A couple of minutes later Mitchell flattened Peel teenager Aiden Field with a full-blooded bump. This caused several Peel players, including Brendon Jones and Pat Travers, to remonstrate with Mitchell. Play went on and this left Schammer in a paddock on the fat side. Taylor got the ball on to Schammer, whose pass was marked by Bradshaw.
Bradshaw received a 50m penalty to make a certainty of his third goal. Five minutes later Bradshaw had to be assisted from the ground, suffering from an ankle injury. Fortunately, it is not serious and the early prognostication is that he might miss just one match.
Claremont 20.12 (132) beat Peel Thunder 7.9 (51).
Scorers---CLAREMONT: T. Lee 4.1; J. Bradshaw, A. Gilligan 3.2; D. Crawford, I. Richardson 2.1; A. Browne 2.0; C. Jones 1.2; B. Nisbett, B. Schammer, J. Thomson 1.0; K. Mitchell 0.2; R. Walton 0.1. PEEL: B. Holmes 2.1; M. Orzel, K. Thornton 2.0; A. Thornton 1.0; J. Crichton, A. Field, D. Johnston, S. Lycett, T. Sheridan, P. Travers 0.1; 2pts forced.
Best---CLAREMONT: D. Crawford, K. Mitchell, A. Gilligan, J. Laurie, A. Ruck, A. Browne, R. Walton, L. Stevenson, J. Bradshaw. PEEL: M. Orzel, B. Jones, K. McIntosh, P. Travers, K. Thornton, T. Gianatti.