Round 1 League: Ferocious Tigers Maul Sharks

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 1:47 PM

By Dan Scamozzi 

Determination, intent, ferocity, courage, blue-collar effort and mateship.

All of these traits were in abundance as an impressive Claremont obliterated a woeful and undisciplined East Fremantle by 78 points in glorious conditions at Claremont Oval in the opening round of the 2019 Optus WAFL Premiership Season.

The 16.7 (103) to 3.7 (25) mauling was the Tigers’ sixth consecutive win against the Sharks, while the visitors’ final score was their equal-lowest in the 283 meetings between the teams.

141 more disposals, 59 more marks, 23 more inside 50s and 13 more scoring shots reflected the Tigers’ dominance from a statistical perspective, but work rate and discipline were also big differences between the teams.

The Tigers also benefited from impressive and slick ball movement, while the Sharks were penalised for giving away free kicks, including several behind the play, and 50m penalties and were held goalless in the second and third terms.

Brilliant midfielder Jye Bolton (one goal) was best afield, with the dual Sandover medallist amassing game-high tallies of 35 disposals, including 23 in the first half, and six inside 50s as the star Tiger excelled with his work rate and hard running.

In just his fifth game, ruckman Jeremy Goddard (four marks, 23 hit-outs), who came up against former AFL player Jonathon Griffin, impressed with his competitive efforts in the ruck and around the ground and won the players’ player award, while the unflappable Dylan Smallwood starred in defence and blanketed East Fremantle’s Luke Strnadica.

Midfielder Ryan Lim (28 disposals) and wingman Haydn Busher (28 disposals, six tackles, two goals) were also highly influential, while vice-captain Tom Lee kicked a game-high four goals and had the better of his duel with East Fremantle’s Matthew Jupp.

Dangerous forwards Matt Palfrey and Tyron Smallwood each kicked three goals, while co-captain and star midfielder Kane Mitchell (29 disposals) laid a game-high nine tackles and helped set the tone with his vigour in the contest.

The win also capped off a memorable day for hardworking forward Jack Bradshaw (seven marks, one goal), who celebrated his 100th game and spoke brilliantly at the post-game presentations.

The Tigers kicked to the northern end of the ground in the opening term with the aid of a slight breeze, as T. Smallwood kicked the opening goal after a long kick forward from Oliver Eastland and great contest from Lee.

Co-captain Ian Richardson then doubled the advantage after impressive passes from Lachie Martinis and Bradshaw, before Palfrey made the Sharks pay from a free kick and 50m penalty.

The visitors replied with consecutive goals, before tough defender Jack Lewsey courageously ran with the flight of the ball in front of the interchange, in an inspirational act that epitomised the Tigers’ appetite for the contest.

Palfrey then kicked his second goal to give the Tigers a 13-point lead at quarter-time.

With the Tigers’ run and spread resulting in 20 more uncontested marks than the Sharks, coach Darren Harris praised the efforts of Goddard and the courageous Lewsey, and also the forward pressure, but encouraged the team to take the “first give”.

A free kick allowed Jordan Law to extend the Tigers’ lead to 19 points early in the second term, before T. Smallwood intercepted a handball from the Sharks and brilliantly finished with the outside of his boot.

Bolton then converted with aplomb, before a ferocious tackle from D. Smallwood on Griffin earned the composed Tiger a free kick and was another example of the Tigers’ determined mindset.

Lee then made the most of a spearing pass from Eastland, before Palfrey ran into an open goal for his third and the Tigers’ sixth in a row.

The result was a 41-point lead at half-time after a five-goals-to-none second term, before Busher extended it to 48 early in the second half.

Robust defender Bailey Rogers then came off dazed and with a bleeding nose after a heavy bump but would soon return with the aid of some bandaging, before T. Smallwood brilliantly snapped his third goal.

Busher then made the Sharks pay from a 100m penalty, before Lee strongly marked and converted a kick to the hotspot from Mitchell.

When Bradshaw miraculously snapped a goal with his left foot from the boundary line it gave the Tigers a 72-point lead at the final change after another five-goals-to-none term, as Harris praised the communication and voice shown by the team while also lauding the leadership from Richardson, who crashed a pack and left Griffin sore and sorry.

The Tigers began the final term with the intention of keeping the “foot on the throat” and recording a big win, before Sean Henson kicked the Sharks’ first goal since the 22-minute mark of the opening term.

It mattered not, as third and fourth goals to Lee capped off a dominant performance from the Tigers on a memorable afternoon, before the team belted out a stirring rendition of the team song.

The Tigers will aim for consecutive wins when they face West Perth at Joondalup Arena in round two.

CLAREMONT 4.2 9.3 14.5 16.7 (103)

EAST FREMANTLE 2.1 2.4 2.5 3.7 (25)

GOALS

CLAREMONT: 4 T. Lee, 3 M. Palfrey, T. Smallwood, 2 H. Busher, 1 I. Richardson, J. Bradshaw, J. Bolton, J. Law.

EAST FREMANTLE: 1 S. Henson, L. Strnadica, C. Loersch.

BEST

CLAREMONT: J. Bolton, J. Goddard, D. Smallwood, R. Lim, H. Busher.

EAST FREMANTLE: J. Snadden, M. Jupp, C. Eardley.