Yu Sinks Sharks

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 10:07 AM

Keifer Yu has kicked 27 goals in his 83 League games, but none more important than the one he kicked against East Fremantle at Claremont Oval on Saturday.

With the Tigers trailing by two points in the final stages of an enthralling contest, the lively Jordan Law, in just his second game, won a holding-the-ball free-kick 35m from goal at the southern end of the ground.

After failing to make the distance from a similar position earlier in the game, he decided to handball to a lurking Yu, who the Sharks had left unmarked.

Yu then split the middle as the final siren sounded to give the Tigers a pulsating four-point win, 12.11 (83) to 11.13 (79), and send the venue into a frenzy.

The Tigers’ win was blue collar, a mantra the team pride themselves on, and full of mateship, something coach Darren Harris preached during an inspirational and composed address at three-quarter time.

Despite the team trailing by 27 points early in the second half and being one man down, it resulted from a will to never give in.

It was also Ian Richardson’s first as captain, and will serve the team well moving forward.

Jared Hardisty (25 disposals, six tackles) set the tone with his ferocious attack on the ball, won a team-high six free-kicks and deservedly won the players’ player award for an outstanding performance, while Law laid an equal team-high seven tackles and kicked the Tigers’ first goal of the game.

Jack Beeck, playing his first League game since round 21, 2016, was inspirational with his unwavering attack on the ball and kicked a team-lifting goal to give the Tigers the lead late in the third term, and fittingly led the team from the ground after the final siren to a rousing reception.

Full-forward Tom Lee, playing his first League game since round nine, 2017, hauled in an equal team-high seven marks and kicked two goals as he had the better of his duel with East Fremantle’s Matthew Jupp, while Alex Manuel kicked an equal game-high four goals, all after quarter-time, including three brilliant snaps on his non-preferred left foot.

On a sour note, Kane Mitchell suffered a knee injury in the first half and was reported for striking.

Nick Kommer (27 disposals, nine tackles, two goals) was prominent for the Sharks, while Jack Perham (10 marks, four goals) threatened to pinch the game and Dylan Winton continuously drove the team forward during their final-term surge.

With Lee replacing the suspended Beau Maister, and Matt Palfrey, Beeck and Anton Hamp among the inclusions, the Tigers kicked to the northern end of the ground in the opening term in perfect conditions, but an early goal from Perham gave the Sharks a fast start.

Law then replied for the Tigers after finishing with aplomb on the run, before Jared Jansen made the hosts pay for some sloppiness in defence.

A desperate spoil from Beeck denied the Sharks, before Jye Bolton, now spending more time as a deep forward, kicked truly after winning a free-kick after some great efforts from Bailey Rogers in the build-up.

Kommer then replied for the Sharks, before Lee kicked truly after winning a free-kick and was mobbed by teammates.

The result was a four-point lead to the Sharks at quarter-time, with the Tigers fortunate to be so close after winning far less of the ball and needing to stop the visitors from taking so many uncontested marks.

A crunching tackle from Hardisty in front of the interchange saw East Fremantle’s Cameron Eardley come off second best early in the second term, before goals to Perham (second) and Sean Fletcher gave the Sharks a 14-point lead.

Manuel replied with the first of his four goals, before the Sharks slammed on three in quick succession either side of a great smother from Hardisty.

A second goal to Manuel resulted from a great contest and brilliant tap from Lee and saw the Tigers trailing by 21 points at half-time.

A second goal to Jansen gave the Sharks the first major for the third consecutive term, a fast start to the second half and 27-point lead, before the Tigers responded in ominous fashion.

Goals to Morgan Davies, who was now limiting Kommer’s impact on the game, and Manuel (third) trimmed the deficit to 13 points, with the latter resulting from an ability to keep the ball moving forward by any means, before a goal-saving effort from Hardisty denied the Sharks.

A second goal to Lee resulted from a strong mark and a great chain of passes from defence, before Beeck made the Sharks pay for an errant kick in defence and was mobbed by teammates.

The result was a three-point lead to the Tigers at the final change, with the hosts now on top in contested disposals and inside 50s.

A fourth goal to Manuel, this time on his preferred right foot, gave the Tigers five in a row and a nine-point lead early in the final term, before Perham replied with his fourth after making the hosts pay for a turnover in defence.

A spearing pass from Lee then saw Palfrey take a strong mark and restore the Tigers’ nine-point lead, before Fraser Gilbert stood tall in defence.

In just his fourth game, Gilbert had had a difficult afternoon opposing Perham, but when the team needed him, the young Tiger hauled in two crucial marks to deny the pressing Sharks.

A second goal to Kommer pulled the visitors to within two points, before 10 minutes of nerve-racking play unfolded, as both teams tried to land the knockout blow.

The never-give-in Tigers wouldn’t be denied, as Yu landed the knockout blow and helped the team record their first win of the season.

The Tigers will be aiming for consecutive wins when they face Subiaco at Leederville Oval on Thursday night.

CLAREMONT 3.1 5.3 9.10 12.11 (83)

EAST FREMANTLE 3.5 8.6 9.7 11.13 (79)

GOALS

CLAREMONT: 4 A. Manuel, 2 T. Lee, 1 K. Yu, J. Beeck, J. Bolton, M. Davies, M. Palfrey, J. Law.

EAST FREMANTLE: 4 J. Perham, 2 N. Kommer, J. Jansen, 1 J. Snadden, S, Fletcher, C. Green.

BEST

CLAREMONT: J. Hardisty, J. Law, J. Beeck, T. Lee, B. Rogers, H. Busher.

EAST FREMANTLE: N. Kommer, J. Perham, D. Winton, J. Griffin, C. Eardley.

By Dan Scamozzi