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Elliott Shines Light on Claremont Midfield Stars

Monday, July 8, 2024 - 10:13 AM

John Townsend


Every great midfield comprises a group of stars who shine a bright light on their team.

Think of Judd, Cousins and Kerr at the great West Coast team two decades ago.

Or Voss, Akermanis and Black in the Brisbane juggernaut of a few years earlier.

Jye Bolton, Bailey Rogers and Callan England are providing the WAFL equivalent of those threesomes in a Claremont team now charging towards finals after its fifth consecutive victory.

But for all the importance of the household names and medal-winners who fuel the best midfields, there are lesser lights whose contributions are perhaps less spectacular but no less valuable.

The Eagles had Fletcher, Jones and Butler able and willing to do the heavy lifting when required.

Lappin, Power and Hart gave the Lions extra teeth.

Ben Elliott is filling that role at Claremont.

The tough left-footer shone brightly on a gloomy day on Saturday when Claremont maintained their Jimmy Melbourne Cup mastery against a strong South Fremantle team.

It was Claremont’s 12th win in the 18 matches played since South Fremantle chief executive Brian Ciccotosto and his Tigers counterpart Todd Shimmon instituted the annual NAIDOC fixture in 2007 to honour WA’s first Aboriginal footballer.

While Bolton’s prolific and precise ball use made him best on ground, Ollie Eastland dominated the ruck contests like few Claremont big men since the days of Graham Moss four decades ago and Rogers contributed in the air, on the ground and in front of goals, Elliott picked a timely moment to produce his best performance for the club.

Playing his 43rd match in his fourth season, Elliott’s 17 disposals were delivered at 94% efficiency, and he laid 11 tackles to maintain enormous pressure on the South midfielders.

Most importantly, he slammed through three goals at critical times in a low-scoring slog at Revo Fitness Stadium.

While Alex Manuel also took his chances from long range to land three majors, the first an exquisite 50m strike after a strong lead and mark, Claremont led from start to finish to win by 11 points, 10.8 (68) to 8.9 (57).

Elliott was in action with his first goal from heavy traffic midway through the first term to reward the team’s bright start, then imposed himself twice in the second half to end South rallies that had cut the margin to less than a goal.

Claremont had not scored deep into the third term when Bolton’s strength enabled him to get away from a tackler after taking the Eastland tap.

His quick kick inside 50 was marked by Elliott whose clinical finish was as cool as it was timely.

It was as crisp as Manuel’s long bomb and around-the-corner finish from the boundary, and matched Rogers’s trademark high mark under significant pressure and clean finish from the 50m line just before half-time.

When Elliott popped through a banana kick from 30m after receiving a Manuel handball under heavy pressure early in the last quarter, it gave Claremont sufficient breathing space to complete their fifth straight win.

The win meant that Claremont have beaten three of the other four members of the top five in the past five rounds.

They can complete a full hand with victory over Swan Districts this Saturday.

Claremont’s victory was built on their midfield control where Eastland maintained his extraordinary form with 41 hit outs and 27 disposals while Bolton had a day out with 34 possessions.

The pair had 20 clearances between them and enabled Claremont to kick six goals to one from stoppages after winning 49 clearances to 24.


CLAREMONT 4.1 7.4 9.4 10.8 68

SOUTH FREMANTLE 2.1 3.3 7.6 8.9 57

GOALS – CLAREMONT: Elliott, Manuel 3; Rogers 2; Waterman, Gowdie.

SOUTH FREMANTLE: Harbour, Main 2; Winder, Graham, Carr, Winder.

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

SOUTH FREMANTLE: Parker, N Strom, Winder, Schloithe, Harbour.