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Foxtel Cup: West Perth calms the Storm

REIGNING WAFL premiers West Perth has flexed its muscle to secure the first place in this year’s Foxtel Cup Grand Final.

The Falcons showed the class difference between the WAFL and the Tasmanian State League, claiming a 74-point semi-final victory over the Western Storm at Patersons Stadium.

West Perth now plays for next month's $100,000 winner’s cheque and is at least guaranteed $40,000 for making the Grand Final.


It will be West Perth’s first Foxtel Cup Grand Final appearance, but the fourth straight year a West Australian team has qualified for the competition decider.

The convincing 15.7 (97) to 3.5 (23) result could be the spark the Falcons need to kick-start their WAFL season as they sit in fifth spot on the ladder, three games behind the top four.

Stand-in captain Matt Guadagnin was delighted by West Perth’s performance.

"We came here tonight to do a job and we have," Guadagnin said. 

The Falcons made a bright start to the semi-final, dominating possession and rarely allowing their opponents any time and space or easy touches.

West Perth's conversion was impressive early, scoring from the first five entries into their forward 50m and probably should have led by more than 19 points at quarter-time.

The Storm could not penetrate the Falcons' defence or match the intensity of the Falcons' midfield, led by senior debutant Aidan Lynch.

The Storm did match the Falcons around the contest in the early part of the second term before the home side powered away with four goals in a seven-minute burst to take a commanding 44-point lead into half-time.

Lynch had 14 disposals to half-time and Jack Thrum had 12 while stand-in captain Matt Guadagnin was busy, along with Joe Morrow, who earned promotion from the Falcons’ reserves for the match. 

Lynch finished the game as leading possession winner with 24, 15 of those contested. He also had nine clearances.
 
Big man Seva Martin, who switched to West Perth this season from Subiaco, showed potential as a marking forward. 

The 23-year-old, who has played less than 10 senior WAFL matches, booted three goals and also spent time in the ruck and finished the game with 11 touches.

Mitch McPhee also kicked three goals for the winners.

The Storm had six players who represented Tasmania in its interstate win over the NEAFL in Hobart on Saturday, including captain Jay Blackberry and Matt Hanson who worked tirelessly.

Hanson was the Storm's leading disposal winner with 20, 14 of those contested.

Their forwards were starved of opportunities with the first goal coming from Alex Russell mid-way through the third term. 

Their tackling pressure, which was a highlight of the Storm’s opening round win over defending Foxtel Cup champions West Adelaide, was virtually non-existent, and the Falcons showed the benefit of their week off.

A late goal to Will Hanson helped the Storm avoid the unwanted accolade of holding the lowest score in the Foxtel Cup. That honour is still held by Queensland side Mount Gravatt.
  
Patersons Stadium is also the venue for the second semi-final next Tuesday night between 2013 WAFL runners-up East Perth and VFL powerhouse Williamstown, the inaugural Foxtel Cup champions in 2011.

WEST PERTH           3.3     7.5     11.6     15.7 (97)
WESTERN STORM   0.2     0.3     1.5      3.5 (23)

GOALS
West Perth: Martin 3, McPhee 3, Johnson 2, Manzone, Bartholomew, Antonio, Crisp, Shannon, Guadagnin, Marusic
Western Storm: Russell, W.Hanson, Barker

BEST
West Perth: Lynch, Thrum, Meadows, Martin, Antonio, Marusic
Western Storm: Blackberry, M.Hanson, B. Thorp, Bardenhagen, Ritchie

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs