Round 13 League: Tigers Outlast Bulldogs

Monday, July 8, 2019 - 11:00 AM

By Dan Scamozzi

Faced with an 18-point deficit at half-time after a disappointing second term that was marred by repeated turnovers, Claremont had their backs to the wall against South Fremantle at Claremont Oval in NAIDOC Round.

However, drawing on the sense of occasion, the Tigers produced a stunning response as they kicked four unanswered goals in the third term and eight goals to two in the second half to record a 16-point victory, 12.6 (78) to 9.8 (62).

The triumph was the Tigers’ fifth consecutive win and the 10th time they have won the Jimmy Melbourne Cup in the 13 games between the teams since its inception in 2007.

Although the win resulted from an even contribution across the board, there were several brilliant performances from a number of players.

Ruckman Jeremy Goddard (seven tackles, game-high 55 hit-outs), who continues to improve with every game and is thriving under the tutelage of ruck coach and WAFL legend Percy Johnson, played arguably the best game of his career as he won his duel with South Fremantle’s Brock Higgins and won best player and the players’ player award.

The versatile Haydn Busher (team-high nine marks), who was given the task of stopping Bulldogs full-forward Mason Shaw (three marks, one goal), blanketed the league’s leading goal-kicker and formed a pivotal part of the most miserly defence that has conceded the least amount of points in the competition.

Co-captain and brilliant midfielder Kane Mitchell, who is arguably in career-best form and recorded a game-high 36 disposals and continually drove the team forward, led from the front with his clear direction and inspiring communication to teammates, while hardworking wingman Ryan Lim laid a remarkable, game-high 18 tackles and kicked a goal during the Tigers’ surge in the third term.

Defender Lachie Martinis (25 disposals, seven tackles) continued his brilliant form and hauled in a courageous mark late in the opening term, while vice-captain Tom Lee, Jye Bolton, Matt Palfrey and the versatile Anton Hamp kicked two goals each.

Meanwhile, hard-running wingman Ben Rushforth (seven tackles) made a promising debut after being rewarded for his solid form in the Reserves.

Bolton, Callan England, Jalen McGee and Harrison McCracken joined Rushforth as inclusions to the team that defeated East Fremantle seven days earlier, as the Tigers kicked to the southern end of the ground in the opening term as both teams wore specially designed guernseys and played with a specially designed ball.

An early goal from Hamp gave the Tigers first blood before Bulldogs captain Dylan Main replied, before McCracken produced a great smother and Busher out-marked Shaw in a sign of things to come.

Haiden Schloithe, who was going head-to-head with fellow Sandover medallist Bolton in a mouth-watering duel, then kicked the Bulldogs’ second goal before Tigers co-captain Ian Richardson split the middle after a centre clearance from Declan Mountford.

Rushforth then laid a strong tackle that earned praise from Claremont coach Darren Harris at the opening change, before Shaw kicked his only goal and Bolton converted as both teams traded goals in an entertaining start to the game.

South’s Kyle Russell then made the Tigers pay for a turnover in defence as the Bulldogs took a six-point lead at quarter-time despite the Tigers being +3 in clearances and +14 in tackles, with Harris urging the hosts to tidy up their turnovers.

Unfortunately, despite Lee kicking the first goal of the second term after receiving a spearing pass from Lim, the Tigers’ turnovers only increased as the Bulldogs kicked three consecutive goals, mainly from turnovers, to take an 18-point lead at half-time.

With the Tigers needing to improve their skill execution and decision-making, a brilliant squaring pass from Jack Bradshaw set up Lee for his second goal in the third term before Lim kicked truly.

Bradshaw then split the middle from deep in the pocket before Hamp kicked his second to give the Tigers a five-point lead at the final change after a dominant term.

17 more tackles and six more inside 50s was a result of effort and taking risks, with Harris praising the team but encouraging them to maintain their surge.

A goal from South’s Brandon Donaldson saw the Bulldogs reclaim the lead early in the final term before Palfrey converted a quick transition from defence.

A strong mark and spearing pass from Hamp set up Palfrey for his second goal before Schloithe kicked his second after the Bulldogs were awarded a free kick in the forward pocket.

Anthony Treacy then gave the Tigers a 12-point lead before Bolton produced a terrific spoil at full-back to deny the Bulldogs and McCracken hauled in a strong mark on the wing.

Bolton then kicked his second goal after the final siren to cap off a terrific day for the Club.

The Tigers will aim for their sixth consecutive win when they face Subiaco at Leederville Oval in round 14.

CLAREMONT 3.1 4.2 8.4 12.6 (78)

SOUTH FREMANTLE 4.1 7.2 7.5 9.8 (62)

GOALS

CLAREMONT: 2 T. Lee, J. Bolton, M. Palfrey, A. Hamp, 1 I. Richardson, R. Lim, J. Bradshaw, A. Treacy.

SOUTH FREMANTLE: 2 H. Schloithe, 1 J. Dragovich, K. Russell, C. Datson, S. Verrier, B. Donaldson, D. Main, M. Shaw.

BEST

CLAREMONT: J. Goddard, H. Busher, K. Mitchell, R. Lim, L. Martinis.

SOUTH FREMANTLE: J. Dragovich, K. Russell, C. Pearson, J. Maskos.