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Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 2:49 PM


The mighty Claremont Tigers began their new era with a 24-point win against rivals Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval in the opening round of the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season.

In a pulsating and seesawing encounter played in balmy conditions, the Tigers were jumped by Swans before they dominated the second quarter and then held off a late comeback to prevail 20.13 (133) to 18.1 (109).

The gruelling contest featured marathon quarters, 104 inside 50s, 52 scoring shots, 38 goals and 23 goal kickers, with the Tigers’ solidarity, mateship and evenness (12 goal kickers) proving too much for the accurate Swans.

In-form ruckman Oliver Eastland (six tackles, one goal) had an enthralling duel with Swans’ Corey Gault and was named best player after providing the Tigers with tremendous service around the ground, while the tireless Ryan Lim (34 disposals, five inside 50s, one goal) covered enormous ground and sent the team forward during a herculean performance.

Vice-captain Jye Bolton (game-high 39 disposals, five tackles, six inside 50s, one goal) continued his strong affinity with the opposition and venue as he won the ball at will and also sent the team forward, while captain Dec Mountford shone across half-back during an inspirational and selfless performance.

Defender Lachlan Martinis (28 disposals, eight marks) returned for his first official game since the 2019 preliminary final and set the tone for Claremont during the opening term when he attacked the ball with endeavour and vigour at half-back – leaving Swans’ Deven Costigan with a shoulder injury.

The crunching but fair contest, along with a desperate smother in the final term, endeared Martinis to his teammates and coaching staff and saw the popular Tiger win the players’ player award.

Milestone man and brilliant forward Alex Manuel kicked a team-high four goals in his 50th game, while hardworking midfielder Ben Edwards (two goals) recorded game-high tallies of eight tackles and seven inside 50s.

Meanwhile, young forwards Jacob Van Rooyen (two goals) and Jack Buller (seven tackles, one goal) made solid debuts as they more than held their own and contributed to an entertaining victory.

Classy midfielder Jake Patmore (25 disposals, four inside 50s) also made a promising debut and will form part of a powerful on-ball unit in 2021.

Forward Tom Edwards kicked a team-high four goals for Swans, while Sam Fisher and Jesse Turner won their fair share of the ball.

The Tigers kicked to the eastern end of the ground in the opening term but quickly found themselves on the back foot as Swans slammed on four unanswered goals in the opening 15 minutes, before Manuel grabbed a badly-needed reply.

Two more goals saw Swans extend their lead to 29 points before Eastland trimmed the margin back to 23 at quarter-time.

Claremont coach Ash Prescott urged the Tigers to “win territory” and “be bold”, before a third goal from Swans’ Jesse Palmer restored the hosts’ 29-point lead in the early stages of the second term.

A stunning response from the Tigers soon followed, as goals from Lim, Buller, Edwards and Isaac Barton trimmed the margin to just four points, with the visitors now playing the game on their terms and slicing through Swans with precision and purpose.

Key forward Brayden Noble briefly replied for Swans, before forward pressure from the Tigers created a turnover and allowed prolific midfielder Bailey Rogers to kick truly.

The opportunistic Cal England then kicked two quick goals after typically being in the right place at the right time, before a tackle from Edwards in defensive 50 denied Swans at the other end.

An intelligent kick into space from Buller allowed Barton to run into his second goal and gave the Tigers a 16-point lead at half-time after a brilliant fightback and eight-goal term.

Swans’ ninth goal trimmed the margin to 10 points in the early stages of the second half, before a great contest from Van Rooyen at full-forward allowed Anthony Treacy to kick Claremont’s 11th major.

Treacy then set up Bolton for a deserving goal, before the sight of consistent defender Jack Lewsey limping from the field provided the Tigers with a brief headache.

Noble kicked his second goal to keep Swans within touch, before Harrison McCracken and Edwards gave the Tigers some breathing space, with Lewsey now back on the field.

Van Rooyen then split the middle from 50m and was mobbed by his jubilant teammates, before three quick goals saw Swans close to within 17 points at the final break.

Prescott urged the Tigers to “up the ante”, before three more goals saw Swans close to within just two points in the final term.

Repeat efforts from Rogers allowed Van Rooyen to kick his second goal, before Manuel did likewise after spinning through traffic and finishing with aplomb.

Barton then intercepted a kick across goal from Swans and kicked his third goal, before Manuel did likewise after another effort from the former.

A fourth goal from Manuel ended the contest, before late goals from Swans trimmed the margin on a memorable afternoon of attacking footy.

The Tigers will aim for consecutive wins when they host South Fremantle at Revo Fitness Stadium in round two.

CLAREMONT 2.1 10.4 15.6 20.13 (133)

SWAN DISTRICTS 6.0 8.0 13.1 18.1 (109)


CLAREMONT: 4 A. Manuel, 3 I. Barton, 2 C. England, J. Van Rooyen, B. Edwards, 1 B. Rogers, R. Lim, J. Bolton, O. Eastland, A. Treacy, H. McCracken, J. Buller.

SWAN DISTRICTS: 4 T. Edwards, 3 J. Palmer, 2 L. Jetta, B. Noble, 1 A. Clarke, S. Fisher, T. Bayok, M. Riggio, C. Jones, J. Turner, W. Collins.


CLAREMONT: O. Eastland, R. Lim, J. Bolton, D. Mountford, L. Martinis.

SWAN DISTRICTS:  S. Fisher, J. Turner, T. Edwards, B. Noble, B. Erceg.