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Zakostelsky shows the way

Friday, September 29, 2023 - 12:49 PM

Zakostelsky shows the way

By Ken Casellas

From the opening centre throw-up in the WAFL colts grand final at Optus Stadium on Sunday Claremont’s athletic ruckman Zane Zakostelsky soared high to win the knock. A scrimmage followed and was followed by another throw-up, with Zakostelsky seizing the ball and booting it forward.

Those efforts were the opening chapter of a superb performance by the 17-year-old who was a dominant force in the ruck duels and around the ground for the rest of a wonderful contest between to highly skilful sides.

Claremont, held scoreless for the opening 14 minutes while Perth raced away with the first two goals, gradually settled down and became more composed on the way to an 11-point triumph to give the Tigers a record  17TH colts premiership. Great credit is due to coach Ash Clancy and his assistants.

While Zakostelsky was a shining light and a most worthy winner of the Mel Whinnen Medal as the best player in the match, Claremont produced a marvellous display of cohesive team football, with all 23 players making valuable contributions.

While Zakostelsky was a star, Claremont had several players who also shone brightly and showed that they will develop into excellent league footballers, with some on the doorstep of being drafted by AFL clubs.

Defenders rarely receive due recognition, with midfielders and multiple goalkickers generally gaining the lion’s share of the plaudits.

But one young man stood out with an almost flawless display of defensive football, marking strongly, spoiling with great effect and keeping his direct opponent under wraps. Sebastian Ballard lined up at full-back and he did a magnificent job in restricting his direct opponent, Perth captain Michael Hall to two marks and two kicks for one goal.

Ballard simply had no chance of preventing Hall taking his two marks after the key forward received searing low passes. Ballard, who attacked the ball with considerable ferocity, was surrounded by a group of unyielding defenders, one of whom being Joe Fonti, who stood out with his determined efforts in the hectic final quarter.

A telling factor in Claremont’s win was the side’s midfield dominance. Max Rohr did a great job in the ruck when giving Zakostelsky a spell; midfielders Dan Curtin, Kai Dehavilland, Bailey Banfield and Riley Disisto excelled, while the no-nonsense and hard-working centreman Ashton Bryant was tough in and under and a constant source of supply, mainly with the use of his deft handpassing.

Full-forward Hamish Davis kicked a goal in each of the first three quarters before he moved upfield in the last term when he took some telling marks to hold the Perth Demons at bay. And while centre-half-forward Sam van Rooyen did not kick a goal, he made his presence felt with some excellent contested marks and several one per cent efforts in the clinches.

Small Perth speedster Aiden O’Driscoll had Claremont supporters frowning early as he booted the first two goals of the match, after receiving a pass from Cooper Moore and then when he sizzled down the right flank.

Jasper Peace and Ballard came under notice with strong marks, and Josh Howard was also prominent in defence, while Dehavilland was setting the standard with his spirited play on the ball.

It took 14 minutes before the Tigers opened their account, a point from van Rooyen, who then intercepted the kick-in and sent a handpass to the lightly-framed Cody Angove, who eluded Elijah Scoble and snapped truly from the goalsquare. It was splendid team football from van Rooyen, who was flattened as he fired out his handpass from the left pocket.

Five minutes later Claremont’s youngest and lightest player (61kg), 17-year-old William Hayes scored Claremont’s second major after completing a strong, contested mark from a pass from Dehavilland, who had received a handpass from Ryley Valli.

Perth replied with a goal to Mitchell Keene, and two minutes later Davis kicked his first goal when he was awarded a free-kick from interference from Perth’s Cameron Hall. This left the scores tied at 3.1 apiece at quarter-time.

It took only 80 seconds into the second quarter for the Tigers to get their fourth goal. Bryant and Valli combined to send the ball forward, and Angove pounced on the loose ball, dashed ahead and kicked truly.

Two minutes later a fast-leading Hall accepted a perfect pass from Robert Warrell and his goal levelled the scores again. Then in the following three minutes Angove popped up at half-back to assist Claremont’s defenders with two strong clearances.

Soon afterwards Sullivan Moody booted the ball forward where Rohr met with interference in a marking duel, earned a free-kick and scored a goal. And soon after that Rohr pulled down a spectacular high mark, but his shot at goal was a ‘poster.’

Banfield was beginning to exert a strong influence on the game and his pass found Davis for Claremont’s sixth major, while Rohr’s ruck work could not be underestimated. A Disisto shot at goal produced another ‘poster’ and soon after that a great tackle by Edward Greenaway earned him a free-kick.

The Demons were fighting hard and a ‘poster’ to O’Driscoll and a goal to Keene reduced Claremont’s lead at half-time to eight points.

The Tigers were on fire early in the third term, scoring four goals in the opening 14 minutes. The first came after 35 seconds when Sullivan Moody snapped accurately after some good work from van Rooyen and Hayes.

Moody, Disisto and Bailey van der Struyf combined to get the ball to Davis for the next goal. Jaxon Bizzaca took a strong mark in defence and he sent the ball to Austin van der Struyf, whose pass was marked by Curtin. But van der Struyf met with interference after kicking the ball and he made the most of a free-kick and a 50m penalty by kicking Claremont’s ninth major.

Seven minutes later a great smother off the boot of a Perth player by Banfield was followed by a short pass from Davis to Hayes, who took the mark on the left flank and booted a goal to give the Tigers a handsome 33-point lead, 10.5 to 5.3.

Perth fought back to score the final two goals of the quarter, while two grand defensive marks by Ballard thwarted the Demons.

Remarkably, Claremont did not score a single point in  tense final quarter during which Perth added 1.5 to lose a grand encounter by 11 points. Curtin moved into defence with telling effect, and Fonti, Ballard, Bailey van der Struyf, Bizzaca, Joshua Howard and company fought tigerishly to keep the Demons at bay until the final siren.   


Claremont 10.7 (67) b Perth 8.8 (56)

Scorers---CLAREMONT: H. Davis 3.0; W. Hayes 2.1; C. Angove 2.0; M. Rohr 1.2; S. Moody, A. van der Struyf 1.0; R. Disisto, S. van Rooyen 0.1; 2pts forced. PERTH: M. Keene, A. O’Driscoll 2.1; N. Cachard 2.0; M. Hall,  J. Watson 1.0; C. Hall, 0.2; R. Lee, N. Murray, L. McTaggart, C. Thomas 0.1.

Best---CLAREMONT: S. Ballard, Z. Zakostelsky, D. Curtin, K. Dehavilland, B. Banfield, A. Bryant, H. Davis, R. Disisto, J. Fonti, C. Angove, M. Rohr. PERTH: N. Cachard, J. Watson, N. Murray, T. Waite, E. Scoble, B. McLean, C. Moore, M. Keene, A. O’Driscoll.