WAFL Watch: Clarke shines
As ruckman Aaron Sandilands succumbed to injury this week, his young protégé, Zac Clarke, delivered a timely reminder that the future is in good hands.
Clarke, who is in his third season at Fremantle, played one of the best games of his short career for East Perth, finishing with 26 possessions and two goals in the Royals’ 69-point win.
“It was a very encouraging game with regards to his attack on the contest in the air and at ground level, and his ball use by foot,” assistant coach Simon Lloyd said.
“From a development perspective, it was one of Zac’s better games.
“His greatest strength is his athleticism and being used around the ground, so it was great to see that utilised.
“Some of his contested marks were really quite imposing as well.”
Clarke shouldered the majority of the ruck work for East Perth, with regular ruckman Zac Beeck injured, and Lloyd said he relished being the No.1 man.
“He’s going to have to do that at AFL level if he’s going to play seniors, so the more we can expose Zac to ruck contests, the better,” Lloyd said.
“Over the coming years, his body is going to get bigger and he’s learning from the best in the business.”
First-year midfielder Jayden Pitt played his first WAFL game for Perth in round 10 of the State competition, while half-forward Michael Walters returned from an ankle injury for Swan Districts.
Ahead of this week’s fixture’s Lloyd shared his WAFL notes withfremantlefc.com.au.
East Fremantle 13.10 (88) d Swan Districts 12.10 (82)
Ben played in the backline again for East Fremantle and he looked to get involved in the play early through handball receives. He finished with 17 kicks, five handballs and 10 marks, and his use was very good through the middle of the ground. Ben will continue to work on his defensive positioning.
Michael was lively early playing as a high forward for Swan Districts and he had a good goal assist in the first quarter. His skills were very good and probably the highlight of his game was some of his creative handball. Michael was returning from an ankle injury, and he pulled up a little sore, so we’ll monitor that. He kicked a good goal late, when the game was tight.
Clayton moved mostly through the wing and high forward positions for Swan Districts and he ran in really well off the square. We were really happy with his spread and he continually looked to get involved on the counter-attack, finishing with 21 possessions and five tackles. Clayton kicked a good goal in the first quarter, had a couple of clearances, and his use by foot was effective.
Subiaco 16.14 (110) lost to Peel Thunder 19.15 (129)
It was a very quiet day for Jack, finishing with just one disposal. His leading patterns were positive early and he showed good energy, but the forward entries were poor and he needed to play a lot higher to get involved in the game. Credit to coach Chris Waterman, who moved Jack into the ruck for two centre bounces and after half-time, he played as a key defender on Peel’s most dangerous forward, Ryan Herring, keeping him goalless in the third quarter. Jack’s resilient, so he’ll work back into form, and he’ll have good support from his coaches and teammates.
Peter started at full-back for Peel opposite Jack Anthony and played him very close for the first half before being moved onto a mobile forward after half-time. He spoiled well, but we’re working on getting Peter more involved on the transition. At the moment, he seems more comfortable on the bigger leading forwards, so we’ll make sure he’s continually exposed to different types of opponents at WAFL level.
South Fremantle 15.5 (95) lost to Claremont 18.11 (119)
Credit to Byron, he won a lot of the ball by using his footy smarts for Claremont, finishing with 26 possessions and five inside 50s. He worked hard deep into defence, but he won most of his possessions spreading hard and pushing forward from the midfield. His bodywork around stoppages and on the wing, opposed to Andrew Gaff, was smart and he tackled hard. Unfortunately, he missed some opportunities, finishing with 0.3.
East Perth 18.14 (122) d Perth 7.11 (53)
Zac broke even with his opponent in the ruck in terms of hit-outs, finishing with 19, but he really opened up the game with his athleticism, his contested marking and his ball use by foot in the first quarter. He dropped off a bit after the first quarter, but really got going again late in the third, taking some strong contested grabs and kicking two goals. He won the ball at ground level and used his athleticism really well.
Overall Hamish fell away for East Perth this week compared to previous weeks, not showing the same work-rate and aggression that we’ve come to expect this season. He played as a key forward with occasional stints in the ruck and he took two strong marks on the lead, which was a positive. He also had a good hit-out to advantage from a stoppage, which resulted in a goal. Hamish’s durability has been a positive this year and he’s getting to more contests.
Casey played both key back and running back roles for Perth and he showed some really good offensive run in the first half. His defensive positioning was very good and he was on his game early, using the ball well and taking a strong contested mark. He fell away after half time and there were a couple of spoiling attempts where he needed to be stronger in the air. It’s just a matter of Casey maintaining that positive start for the entire game.
Jayden played the majority of the game for Perth off a wing with occasional stints at half-back and as a midfielder. He worked his way into the game off half-back in the second quarter with a really effective kick using the corridor. In the second half he demonstrated some good use with short kicks and won most of his ball backward of centre. We’d like to see him running and carrying the ball a bit more.