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Eastland Mastery and Unconditional Commitment Steer Tigers into Top Five

Monday, July 1, 2024 - 9:39 AM

John Townsend


The final minutes told the story.

Zac Mainwaring laid a desperate tackle to prevent Cody Leggett getting a shot at goal from close range.

Then Ben Elliott hauled in a brilliant diving mark to prevent East Fremantle getting within scoring range.

The two moments of extraordinary commitment in the dying moments of a brutal encounter on neutral territory at Leederville Oval indicated that Claremont have found the match-winning formula required to succeed in finals.

The nine-point win over the Sharks on Sunday not only avenged the 90-point thrashing in round two, Claremont’s worst performance since their last premiership in 2012, but steered the Tigers into the top five for the first time this season.

The next four rounds against the other members of the top five are likely to confirm whether coach Ashley Prescott will have a say in finals for the eighth time in his eight seasons at the club.

The 9.8 (62) to 8.5 (53) result was Claremont’s fourth consecutive victory during a month in which the Tigers have been repeatedly tested but found answers to every question.

Wins have come against Peel (first), East Perth (first), Perth (last but charging) and East Fremantle (fifth).

Prolific centreman Jye Bolton, whose move back into the midfield has coincided with Claremont producing their best football in two years, identified the catalyst for the turnaround coming from the team’s refusal to accept small errors in their approach.

“We set some standards and accountability on either side of the ball,” the dual Sandover medallist said.

“We had been pretty happy making small mistakes but that added up to be big differences in games. “We addressed that accountability, our training standards have lifted and we decided that we were not going to accept those little 1% mistakes anymore, which can add up to be big things.”

Bolton also said that the magnetic presence of big forward Kieran Gowdie and the rebounding impact of prize recruit Martin Fredericks had combined to allow him to return to the midfield where his influence alongside dominant ruckman Ollie Eastland and premium ball-winner Bailey Rogers was reflected in the team’s improved performance.

Gowdie’s strong presence as a marking target in attack allowed Rogers to have more time in the middle while Frederick’s precision as a ball-carrier and playmaker meant Bolton could also return to the position where he had his greatest influence.

“I’ve played in the middle since I was six,” he said. “I will play wherever the team needs me but we felt we should get our core midfield group back together.

“Gowdie coming back in the team allowed Brog (Rogers) to be freed up and then Freddie and (Anthony) Davis, with the quality of their ball use, allowed me to go back into the centre.

“We want to make sure we have our most dangerous players in the middle of the ground.”

Bolton was handy with his 23 disposals, but the timing and whereabouts of his possessions in the last term were critical, while Rogers (25 disposals and a goal), Callan England (26 and a goal), and Elliott (21 and a goal) were highly effective contributors.

But no one matched the influence of ruckman Ollie Eastland who produced a career-best match in his career-best season to set an early and remarkable standard of excellence.

Eastland had a remarkable 80 individual involvements in the match, made up of 40 hit-outs, 30 disposals, including a game-high 17 contested, and 10 tackles.

His ability to overcome East Fremantle’s tall timber, and set the Tigers in motion, was pivotal to Claremont’s success.

East Fremantle were charging late in the match but the loss of their captain Matthew Jupp, who was knocked out in a heavy collision that saw him taken from the ground on a stretcher, sapped their momentum.

When Mainwaring and Elliott produced their moments of wholehearted individual commitment, it was enough for Claremont to hold on and replace the reigning premier in the top five.


CLAREMONT 3.2 5.5 8.6 9.8 62

EAST FREMANTLE 1.1 3.3 6.5 8.5 53

GOALS – CLAREMONT: Rogers, Waterman, Gowdie, Elliott, England, Davis, Fredericks, Barron, Musika.

EAST FREMANTLE: Hagan 3; O’Reilly 2; Murdock, Leggett, Montauban.

BEST – CLAREMONT: Eastland, Rogers, England, Davis, Bolton, Elliott.

EAST FREMANTLE: Eardley, Turner, Blakiston, Hagan, Cleaver, Baskerville.