When the Sharks spread, they leave their opponents for dead.
East Fremantle’s spread from the contest has been the highlight of their season so far, and it was on display again in yesterday’s 26-point win over Perth at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday.
Sharks midfielder Milan Murdock was one of the main contributors, collecting 32 disposals and booting two goals to help the visitors to a tough win.
Sharks coach Bill Monaghan said he was pleased with how his group responded and ran out the game in the final quarter after Perth had wrestled back momentum in the third.
It came without Jonathan Marsh and Dillon O’Reilly, with the latter a late out with a back injury. But Monaghan said their absence was not the reason for the Sharks’ wayward tally of 13.20 in front of goal.
“I don’t think missing O’Reilly and Marsh contributed to our inaccuracy. We had a lot of inside-50s and scoring shots which is pleasing, I just think it was one of those days where it doesn’t fall into place,” he said.
“It was very warm, and players were fatigued so maybe that was a reason for poor goal kicking.”
The extent of O’Reilly’s back injury is not yet known at this stage, but they will gain a further understanding this week.
“His (O’Reilly) back flared up on Friday and we monitored it closely, but he wasn’t able to get up for today,” Monaghan said.
“We’re not sure if it was just a spasm or soreness but we’ll know more on Monday.”
Perth coach Gary Moss credited the Sharks’ midfield, highlighting their clean handball game as the focal point.
“They’ve got a midfield who are really good at flicking the ball around by hand,” he said.
“Milan Murdok was damaging along with (Kyle) Baskerville, and they had a lot of numbers throughout the middle, and we didn’t have that same impact.”
In the lead up to half-time East Fremantle kicked three majors to take a 15-point lead into the main break.
Moss said it was a crucial passage of the game where the Demons fell away and left themselves too much work to do.
“The 10-minute patch in the second quarter is where the game got away from us and after the 50-metre penalty that resulted in a goal we dropped our heads a bit,” he said.
Moss said the third quarter highlighted the Demons’ ability to move the ball quickly from the defence and impact the scoreboard, but the style was not sustainable.
“I thought our third quarter was outstanding but, in the end, I think that wore us down a little bit,” he said.
Fraser McInnes and Nyika John were helped from the field, but the former was the only one able to return.
“McInnes copped a cork and did well to get back out there,” Moss said.
“John tweaked his ankle, so we will see how he goes next week.”
The Sharks sit in second just two per cent behind West Perth and host the reigning premiers Subiaco at the WACA Ground on Saturday.
The Demons are looking to bounce back against a red-hot West Perth outfit at Pentanet Stadium next Saturday.