Brieghton Shea produced a stunning eight-goal haul to keep the Brumbies in top spot despite a spirited challenge from South Mandurah at Baldivis Oval on Sunday.
Shea’s bag and solid accuracy in front of goal gave Baldivis all they needed to keep a young Falcons outfit at arm’s length, as the league leaders held onto their perch with a 17.5 (107) to 13.12 (90) victory.
Both sides opened the day with promise, going neck-and-neck across the opening term with scores tied at 26 after the first.
The deadlock continued in the second quarter with league-leading goal kicker Brad Holmes looking threatening in the South Mandurah forward line, but Baldivis headed into half time with their noses in front by a goal.
From there the Brumbies took full charge, piling on six goals to the Falcons’ two in the third term to break out to a healthy lead.
South Mandurah’s chances weren’t helped when star midfielder Andrew Haydon went down after a head knock, with Shea and his Baldivis squad taking advantage of his absence to storm to a 28-point lead at three quarter time.
Chris Swarts and Michael Holmes put in fantastic efforts to help the visitors wrestle back some of the momentum, but Baldivis held on to their lead to finish the game up 27 points.
Shea’s eight goals were the catalyst for the league leaders, with his bag coming just a week after teammate Blaine Johnson booted 11.
The win cements Baldivis’ place atop the table, and sets up an enormous game between them and the third-placed Centrals next week.
Meanwhile South Mandurah will now enter what coach Paul Pannell labelled a “must-win” clash with Halls Head next week.
“Basically whoever wins that game is likely to be the one of us that plays finals, so it’s going to be a massive day for us,” he said.
“Halls Head and us are probably in pretty similar situations at the moment in terms of the mix of youth and experience each team has, so it’s going to be interesting to see which way it goes.”
Pannell said his side – which dropped a pair of close games to Halls Head earlier this season – would need to quell the Lightning’s run from half back if they are to come away with a win.
“They’ve got some real barometers and players that can do a lot of damage, so we’ll need to put some time into them,” he said.
“I really like the balance they have as a side, but our boys have been in good form and if we keep playing the way we have been we should be a chance.”
South Mandurah will be hoping Haydon is fit to play in the Halls Head clash, which kicks off at Falcon Oval on Sunday, 2.30pm.
B. Shea 8, Z. Quigg 2, B. Johnson 2, E. Collard, J. Ritchie, B. Tingey, C. Black, D. Kimberley
B. Holmes 5, C. Swarts 2, R. Price 2, T. Lee, A. Haydon, C. Dews, N. Hutchison
B. Shea, J. Heal, H. Lynn, B. Tingey, S. Barndon, J. Watterson
C. Swarts, M. Holmes, N. Hutchison, R. Price, A. Zucconi