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West Coast Eagles

Royals succumb to hungry Tigers

Luke Partington toiled manfully for 19 disposals and seven marks against the Tigers Photo: Gary Day

East Perth crashed out of the WAFL premiership race following a disappointing 28-point elimination final loss to Claremont on Sunday.

The Royals entered the do-or-die contest full of confidence after comprehensively beating reigning premiers Peel Thunder in round 21 but they failed to match the tenacious Tigers, who fired early and triumphed 12.11 (83) to 8.7 (55)

Claremont signalled their intentions early, got the game on their terms and bombarded East Perth’s defensive 50.

The Royals' defence held strong for the first seven minutes of the match, but the dam wall eventually broke and the Tigers capitalised by kicking three goals.

Claremont’s advantage could have been much greater than 23 points if not for some errant kicking in front of the big sticks.

Tom Lee sent the home crowd into raptures with a goal in the opening minutes of the second term, but Luke Webster’s men wrestled their way back into the contest and stifled the Tigers’ attack from thereon in, limiting them to just one more point before half-time.

Oscar Allen got the Royals rolling with a brilliant goal from the left pocket and ruckman Ajang Ajang helped the visitors get within 16 points of Claremont when he goaled from point-blank range after getting marched 50m due to a protected zone infringement.

The black and blue army was up and about when Nathan Blee and Ajang booted back-to-back goals at the beginning of the third quarter, but Claremont rose to the challenge and struck back via goals to Lee, Ian Richardson, Alex Manuel and Haydn Busher.

Just when it looked like the Royals were on the canvas, Matt Allen intercepted a sloppy corridor entry and sent the Burley home before Brendon Ah Chee kicked truly from 48m to reduce the deficit to just 16 points before the final change of ends.

East Perth shot out of the blocks in the fourth term with an early goal to Oscar Allen, but Claremont snuffed out any hopes of a Royals comeback with four unanswered goals.

Not surprisingly, most of East Perth’s busiest players were stationed backward of centre.

Francis Watson (20 disposals, eight spoils) was a standout for East Perth, cutting off several attacking raids from the Tigers, Jarrod Brander (16, six marks) was strong in the air, Josh Rotham amassed a team-high 10 spoils, Kurt Mutimer (15, five marks) was more than serviceable and Jackson Nelson (16, six half-back rebounds) drove the Royals up the field.

Brayden Ainsworth (25 disposals, six marks) led the charge in the midfield alongside Luke Partington (19, seven marks), Brendon Ah Chee (18, 12 contested possessions, one goal) and Matt Allen (13, three inside-50s).

Oscar Allen (four marks, four score involvements) was East Perth's lone multiple goal-kicker on a day where Jake Waterman (12, two marks) and Jack Petruccelle (12, five marks) struggled to find enough space to do any scoreboard damage.