The West Coast Eagles under 23 State Amateurs fell at the final hurdle in their quest for the national Amateur championship, going down to the SAAFL by two points at Fremantle Oval.
Despite a valiant effort and a stand out first quarter, WA went down in the dying minutes 14.8 (92) to South Australia’s 14.10 (94).
South Australia’s Judd Robson, unable to convert a 50m penalty, put SA on the board with Brett Prior kicking their first major at the 12 minute mark of the first quarter.
In a repeat of last year’s game against Victoria North Fremantle’s Daniel Starr scored the first goal for WA to put them on the front foot for a strong first quarter, outscoring SA by 23 points.
The second quarter went back and forth; SA’s Henry Hardy kicking two of his three goals to give his side the better term, cutting the lead to 11 heading into the main break.
The third term, hard fought with a lot of play in the centre square, saw WA score just nine points, their lone goal coming from University’s Matthew Breen.
SA hit the lead for the first time since Robson’s first quarter behind with a goal from Seamus McDonnell at the 22 minute mark, outscoring WA by 18 and capitalising on their size in the wings to head into the final quarter up by seven points. A late missed opportunity to WA when advantage was paid from a goal square free kick only to see the ball go through a point seemed to deflate the Sandgropers after having had the majority of play for the quarter.
Kalamunda’s Rohan Sankey directed a lot of play through the centre and into the forward 50 for WA; however WA looked to be in trouble with SA kicking the first two goals of the fourth to push the lead out to 19.
Lead by Beau Witheridge and vice captain Christopher Basile, WA went on 4.1 run to regain a one goal lead with thirteen minutes left to play.
The next ten minutes was a nervous tussle back and forth across the pitch with many unnoticed pushes, shoves and hard knocks, neither side giving up any ground.
South Australia big man Robson kicked his first goal of the game at the right time, tying the game at the 27 minute mark as the WA boys seemed to run out of steam.
The final three minutes of the game were all South Australia; the WA boys struggling to contain the attacking SA. Daniel Capogreco kicked the vital behind to put the away side in front and Tom Botten added another point to put the game out of reach, despite a last gasp effort by WA to run the ball up the field in the dying minutes.
WA will now be watching the Tasmania/Victoria match very closely. Victoria just need to beat Tasmania to win the AAFC championship having beaten SA comfortably in 2008 and only losing to WA by a point last year.
South Australia awarded best on ground to Alexander Stengle (SA) and Nick Kommer (WA), and WA gave their best on ground to Preston O’Keefe (WA) and Nicholas Smith (SA).
The AF Statton Medal, awarded by the umpires to the player judged best on ground was given to South Australia’s Zaccary Millar.