Reigning premiers Subiaco slumped to a 0-2 start for the first time since 2001 after a shock loss to a COVID-hit Claremont at Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday.
The youthful but spirited Tigers, who were forced to make a remarkable 15 changes and blood eight debutants, overcame a 25-point deficit early in the second term to prevail by 15 – 13.11 (89) to 11.8 (74) – in an epic upset.
Fringe player Ben Elliott was the unlikely hero in just his fifth league appearance, putting the team on his back with a best-afield performance.
The 20-year-old starred in the midfield and sparked the stunning second-quarter revival with two of his three majors in that term as Claremont piled on six of the last seven before half-time.
He had 10 possessions in the opening 10 minutes of the match and finished with 32 to go with nine tackles, despite battling severe cramp late.
Captain Ryan Lim (37 disposals), the only member of the leadership group and most experienced Tiger available, led from the front with his elite work rate around the ground, while Ben Edwards (34 and a goal) and debutant Oliver Sheldrick (15) were also prolific in the middle.
Towering forward Timm House was a dominant force in attack, getting the better of fellow former AFL-listed player Jordan Lockyer and Aaron Heal on his way to a game-high four majors.
Goalsneak Patrick Kitchener (two goals) was also a handful for the Lions’ defence in his league debut.
Subiaco, who were completely outplayed and outworked during the middle two quarters, came hard in the last against their tiring opponents before big man Max Minear’s goal at the 22-minute mark put the result to bed.
Sandover medallist Lachlan Delahunty lifted late in the ruck to give the Lions a sniff and Bernie Naylor medallist Ben Sokol (three goals) started and finished well, but there were too many players gone missing for extended periods.
Former Fremantle running machine Stefan Giro and captain Leigh Kitchin were massive in the opening term but the inexperienced Claremont midfield got on top of them after quarter-time.
It was a sad end to Matt La Fontaine’s day with the Subiaco recruit helped off by a pair of trainers in serious agony during the second term after an apparent significant right leg injury.
CLAREMONT, 1.1, 7.4, 11.8, 13.11 (89)
SUBIACO, 4.2, 7.4, 9.5, 11.8 (74)
Goals – CLAREMONT: T House 4 B Elliott 3 T Delacey 2 P Kitchener 2 B Edwards M Minear. SUBIACO: B Sokol 3 R Borchet 2 C Robinson 2 A Breman S Giro J Stergiou K Eaton.
Best – SUBIACO: L Delahunty J Stergiou B Sokol C Robinson S Giro L Kitchin. CLAREMONT: B Elliott R Lim T House O Sheldrick B Edwards P Kitchener.
Injuries – SUBIACO: Matt La Fontaine (leg). CLAREMONT: Nil.
Umpires: O Wharton, R McCaw, J Kerr
Crowd: About 2000 at Revo Fitness Stadium.