Pre-Season Match 2 DEVT Report: Brave Tigers Hold off Bulldogs
By Dan Scamozzi
An inspired and resilient performance by Claremont (Reserves) saw the Tigers hold on for a 14-point win against South Fremantle in their second and final pre-season hit-out at Fremantle Community Bank Oval last Saturday.
Despite losing Jared Hardisty and Charles Le Fanu to ankle injuries in the opening term and Ben Musitano (finger) later in the game, a five-goal-to-three first quarter set up the Tigers’ 11.11 (77) to 9.9 (63) victory.
A scintillating start to the game, in which Claremont sliced open the Bulldogs with lightning ball movement and transition from defence, was inspired by the bullocking and ferocious Justin Speed in midfield.
The powerful Tiger finished the game with 19 contested possessions and one goal, and was ably supported by Tom Lawrence and Bailey Bennett (one goal), who also won their share of contested ball while a resolute defence was led by Luke Maddock.
Matthew Ehlers (three goals) was the game’s leading goal kicker and provided a focal point in Claremont’s forward line along with Sam Bevan (two goals), while Oliver Eastland put in an admirable performance in the ruck despite opposing South’s more-experienced Brock Higgins in the first half.
An accurate long-range snap by Speed in the opening stages of the game set the tone for Claremont, before majors to Keifer Yu and Eddie Simpson gave the Tigers three goals inside five minutes and an 18-point lead.
Further goals to Hardisty and Bevan resulted from quick ball movement and precision play in transition, as the Tigers extended their lead to 29 points halfway through the opening term.
Three goals to the Bulldogs saw Claremont’s lead trimmed to 14 points at the first break, however, the first term belonged to the Tigers as coach Kepler Bradley lauded the team’s clearance work and ability to switch the play and counter-attack.
Claremont started the second term down two players on the interchange after Hardisty and Le Fanu were grounded by injury, and when Max Websdale kicked his second major for the hosts, the Tigers’ lead was trimmed to eight points.
M. Ehlers responded for the Tigers with two goals either side of a major to South’s Daniel Burke, before Claremont’s David Ehlers left the field after being on the end of some friendly fire from teammate Nick Winmar.
An outstanding mark by Lawrence in Claremont’s defence soon followed, before a late goal to Matt Grubelich saw South close to within six points at half-time.
Bradley instructed Claremont to improve and tidy up its ball use and not play into South’s hands with chip kicks, while lauding the Tigers’ efforts in leading the clearances and possession count.
The Tigers started the second half with M. Ehlers switching with Simpson as the back-up ruckman, however, a second goal to Grubelich saw South cut Claremont’s lead to just one point.
When Bevan found the hard-working Bennett it allowed the Tigers to respond, before a third major to M. Ehlers resulted from a thumping pass by Speed and gave Claremont an 18-point lead at the final change.
Bradley paid tribute to Claremont’s continued efforts in winning contested possession and tackling, although the Tigers needed to lower their eyes going into attack and were now down to one fit player on the interchange.
A running goal to D. Ehlers and second to Bevan provided an ideal start to the final term and gave Claremont a commanding 31-point lead, before Cruze Wilson replied for South.
A great smother by Jack Griffiths reiterated Claremont’s intent and work-rate, and despite a second goal to Wilson in the closing stages, the Tigers clinched a deserved victory in hot conditions.
Claremont face East Fremantle in round one of the 2017 McDonald's WAFL Premiership Season at East Fremantle Oval on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Claremont overcame a slow start to record a 34-point win over South Fremantle in the Colts, 12.12 (84) to 6.14 (50).
CLAREMONT 5.3 7.3 9.10 11.11 (77)
SOUTH FREMANTLE 3.1 6.3 7.4 9.9 (63)
CLAREMONT: 3 M. Ehlers, 2 S. Bevan, 1 K. Yu, J. Hardisty, J. Speed, E. Simpson, D. Ehlers, B. Bennett.
SOUTH FREMANTLE: 2 C. Wilson, M. Grubelich, M. Websdale, 1 T. Pickett, D. Burke, M. Dzelebzdic.
CLAREMONT: B. Bennett, J. Speed, K. Yu, T. Lawrence, M. Ehlers.