By OSCAR PERRI
After leading for most of their round 10 match against Federals, West let their lead slip in the last quarter to narrowly go down by five points at Albrecht Oval on Saturday, a seven goal haul to West forward Jasper Wheeler not enough to carry the lead through.
First three goals of the game went to West in quick succession, taking complete control early on and moving the ball freely and accurately with very little pressure applied on them.
As the quarter progressed, the Feds started to chase harder and make tackles, slowing things down through the middle of the quarter and finally breaking onto the scoreboard with goals from Sandy Aben and Henry Impu to drag the margin back to 11 points at the first break.
Another goal to Impu to start off the quarter had all but eliminated West’s hot start, and the game settled into a very open midfield battle, with both sides struggling to hold the ball in their forward line.
Daniel Gorry continued his run of good form in the ruck for the Federals, using his height advantage well and consistently getting the ball into his teammates hands. Samuel Mader was outstanding in the centre for West during the middle of the game, going in tough for the ball and regularly breaking out with it from the contest and setting up goals.
After a quiet start, big Federals forward Copelan Ford started to make an impact, kicking the last goal of the half to bring his side just four points behind.
The third quarter was an incredibly even term of football, with three goals going either way including Wheeler’s fifth, who had been impressive all game with his accuracy.
Tension flared later in the quarter and a fight broke out sparked by some rough play from new West defender Rhys Dick.
It had the desired effect for West, with Federals players giving away two 50m penalties in quick succession shortly afterwards. Another late goal to the Feds brought the margin to three points, this time from Robby Bartee who had been amassing a huge amount of the ball in the middle of the ground.
Geoffrey Pareroultja, in his return to the side after missing games between the COVID caused breaks, showed how much he had been missed by his West teammates, injecting speed and skill into the middle which allowed the forwards to lead hard and be rewarded.
The highlight of the game came midway through the last quarter, with Federals’ Shanley Malbunka soaring, sitting on heads to nearly take what would have been the mark of his life, all right in front of the grandstand.
Two goals to Wheeler, who was constantly dangerous in combination with fellow big bodied forward Marcus McDonald made it seem that West were going to run away with it.
But a brilliant move by the Federals to put Gorry in the forward line gave them the lift they needed in the forward line, kicking three goals for the quarter and unselfishly setting up another, including the last goal of the game, which finally got the Federals in front to win the game.