A three-goal flurry from Pinjarra star Brock O’Brien in the final term buoyed his Tigers to a victory over the top-spot Rockingham Rams at Sir Ross McLarty Oval on Saturday evening.
The ex-East Fremantle superstar finished with five goals for the day to fill the void of the absent Nick Merritt, three of which came in the final period as his side fended off a second-half surge from Rockingham to end the day in front 12.9 (81) to 8.11 (59).
Both sides entered the game unbeaten but it was the Tigers moving ahead of the Rams on the ladder to secure sole possession of top spot with the victory.
A blistering second term helped Pinjarra jump out to a cosy four-goal lead at half time, but the visiting side fought back into the contest with a run of their own in the third.
Michael Hansen put in a stellar performance and was up and about setting up some shots on goal early, while Nixon Purser, Riley Vidovich and Dylan Rozman all gave positive signs for the side’s future.
But despite Hansen’s hard work it was Ram and league-leading goal scorer Luke Dowling recording the first of the day, much to the dismay of Pinjarra defender Stephen Martin who argued the ball had crossed the boundary line before the crafty forward put it between the sticks.
Pinjarra sprang into action in the second as O’Brien nailed their first, before Chris Oliver returned serve for the Rams.
From there it was a black and gold barrage, though, with Braddon Kazakoff, Milward and Matthew Bee combining to create a run of four consecutive majors for the home side.
The Rams hit back when Dowling pegged one back before half time to bring his side within 25 points, and he kicked truly just a minute into the third to spark a momentum shift.
Fraser Millar put in a fantastic display as Rockingham’s best across the four quarters and worked hard to will his side back into the frame after half time, resulting in goals to Damon Cramer and Rocky Collins to bring the guests within six points.
But O’Brien nailed one late in the term to keep Pinjarra’s breathing space in tact, before running rampant with some classy finishes in the fourth.
He put the game on ice after Hansen, Rozman and Vidovich linked up on a crisp passage of play that resulted in O’Brien’s fourth, and his fifth was the cherry on top in the dying stages.
The reigning premiers now lead the league as the only team with a clean 4-0 record.
They host the struggling South Mandurah in round five, while Rockingham look to bounce back against Halls Head.