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WAFL R14 Wrap Up with Jacob Landsmeer - Thanks to The Left Bank

Tuesday, July 9, 2024 - 11:38 AM

Sharks steady with gritty Demon win

East Fremantle has steadied its 2024 League season, overcoming both tricky conditions and a plucky Perth outfit to record a 14-point win at Lathlain Park on Saturday.

The Sharks kicked four consecutive goals in a low scoring game to open up an early advantage on the Demons, forwards Dillon O’Reilly and Jonathon Marsh sharing six goals between them in the 9.11 (65) to 7.9 (51) result.

The Demons-Sharks clash was the second between the clubs for season 2024, the first Saturday afternoon fixture for East Fremantle since their last meeting with Perth in round eight.

Cold and windy conditions greeted the sides for the match, making clean skills difficult for both teams and setting the tone for a scrappy contest.

Neither side was on target early, the teams trading behind in the opening 14 minutes before Jhye Clark capitalised on a good transition from half back, running through the 50 to kick the first goal of the contest.

After Alex Montauban, Chadd Dunscombe, Jack Cleaver and Cody Leggett all missed shots on goal (plus a rushed behind) it was the former Demon who hit the target, Leggett capitalising on a great centring pass from acting captain Kyle Baskerville to kick truly from 30 metres out.

The Sharks were beginning to gain the ascendency around the ball, Milan Murdock with plenty of hard ball gets and Jack Cleaver continuing to enjoy time in the midfield.

Michael Tassone had good vision from a boundary line stoppage, able to hit a leading Dillon O’Reilly who kicked the Sharks second goal of the term.

Having held a seven-point lead at quarter time the visitors continued to hold the ascendency in the second term, Harry Marsh adding his first goal of the season to give his team some breathing space.

The ball was living in East Fremantle’s forward half but they were perhaps failing to get reward for effort on the scoreboard, Jono Marsh booting the Sharks fourth consecutive goal courtesy of a classy finish from left full forward.

The Demons only managed one goal for the quarter, East Fremantle’s defence holding up well despite the absence of Jupp with Cameron Eardley showing his experience to marshal the back six, inclusion Lennon Marlin also strong against his former side.

A 21-point half time lead was trimmed when Aaron Clarke broke free of Marlin to mark close to goal and kick truly, but East Fremantle had the answers as Dillon O’Reilly responded quickly, kicking accurately from 35 metres.

A brilliant clearance from Milan Murdock put O’Reilly on the path to his third major and second in a minute, the Sharks out to a game high 27-point lead.

In a low scoring game Perth tried to keep in touch with a goal to Ned Shannon, but East Fremantle had the two dominant key forwards on the ground in O’Reilly and Jono Marsh, the pair combining as the younger Marsh brother kicked his second of the game.

The Demons kept in touch with two goals either side of three-quarter time to close to within 13 points, but nothing was easy for the home side as the Sharks pressure remained high throughout the contest.

Jono Marsh kicked his third to steady any East Fremantle nerves at the eight-minute mark of the final term, and when Jed Hagan produced a crafty snap the game looked done and dusted, the Sharks margin a comfortable 26 points.

Jhye Clark and Sam Stubbs pulled back the margin with the final two goals of the match to briefly entertain a comeback, but the Sharks backline held firm in the final moments of the match to make sure of their seventh win of the premiership defence, completing a clean sweep of the Demons for the season at league level.

Eardley was outstanding all day for East Fremantle, showing poise and courage in a typically strong defensive game, finishing with 28 touches and 10 marks.

Murdock finished with 27 disposals, doing his best work in close with an incredible three kicks and 24 handball stat line, Cleaver (25 touches, 20 in the first half) and Fraser Turner (25) also having an impact.

O’Reilly presented strongly all day to kick 3.1 from 16 disposals, while Jono Marsh also kicked three to have a telling say on a largely dour contest played under gloomy skies.

Chadd Dunscombe hurt his ankle and failed to complete the match for the Sharks, the only injury concern out of a game unlikely to make too many end of season highlights reels.

The win wasn’t enough to push the reigning premiers back in to the top five, Claremont’s win over South Fremantle leaving them entrenched in fifth spot despite East Fremantle’s identical 7-5 record with a better percentage, the club’s four premiership point penalty handed down in the off-season for a breach of the 2022 Total Player Payments scheme keeping them on the periphery of finals football for the time being.

Earlier, the news was less positive in the other grades, the Reserves suffering a 26-point defeat at the hands of Perth.

The Sharks were made to pay for a slow start, conceding eight opening term goals and playing catch up from there in the 17.9 (111) to 13.7 (85) result.

Jack Cocking continued his push for a league debut with four majors, Austin Ball (21 disposals and 2 goals) also in the best, while Matthew Burton snared three majors, all after half time.

The defeat is the Reserves third loss in succession, still sitting inside the top five in fourth position with a 6-5 record.

The Colts lost a low scoring scrap in the morning to the Demons, the home side pushing in front thanks to a three goal to none third term in an otherwise tight contest, winners 7.11 (53) to 5.7 (37).

Bailey Morgan was the only multiple goalkicker for the Sharks with two majors, while Luke Carrello (25 disposals) and Declan Pauline (25) found plenty of the ball, the Colts with their fifth loss in a row to drop out of the top five.

All men’s grades head down to Rushton Park in Mandurah for a round 15 date with Peel Thunder, the Sharks forced to play a ‘home’ game at Peel’s home ground as the wait for a return to East Fremantle Oval continues.