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Bulldogs make a statement with Round 1 win over Lions

Monday, March 20, 2017 - 4:08 PM by Chris Pike
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SOUTH Fremantle couldn’t have made a more impressive start to the 2017 WAFL season kicking four goals in the opening 11 minutes to set up the eventual 39-point victory over Subiaco.

The Bulldogs entered Fremantle Community Bank Oval for Round 1 of the 2017 season looking to take it up to a Subiaco team who has played in the previous three grand finals and won its last six matches against South Fremantle.

South Fremantle made quite the statement early with those first four goals before Subiaco scored. The Bulldogs went on to lead by 44 points at half-time and ended up winning 17.14 (116) to 11.11 (77).

The encouraging signs for the Bulldogs were endless and none more so than the fact No. 1 ruckman Brock Higgins and reigning fairest and best winner Shane Hockey weren’t out there, and to return in coming weeks.

It was a dominant performance by South Fremantle from the outset with 45 more possessions, nine extra scoring shots and 60 inside-50 entries to 41.

South Fremantle's forward-line was then dangerous on the back of the 60 entries. Ben Saunders booted four goals while working tremendously hard laying tackles and putting on pressure.

Small forward Brandon Donaldson also kicked three goals for the Bulldogs and Zac Strom three to go with 12 possessions and five marks. Ashton Hams kicked three goals to go with 25 disposals and six marks. Mason Shaw kicked two goals too.

South Fremantle's back-line was equally impressive led by Josh Pullman, Blayne Wilson and Marlion Pickett. Wilson also had 26 possessions and 10 marks, and Pickett 21 disposals and nine marks.

Steven Edwards had a good battle with the dangerous Liam Ryan as well. The Subiaco forward kicked three goals but Edwards did a lot of things right as well against a dangerous opponent who was given plenty of space to work in at times.

In the absence of Higgins and Josh Branchi, Jake Solomon played the third league game of his career and first with South Fremantle and did well carrying the ruck with 14 possessions, four marks and 35 hit outs.

The Bulldogs midfield was then outstanding led by Dylan Main who continued on with the form he finished 2016 with. He had 27 possessions, seven inside-50 entries and six tackles. Haiden Schloithe also had a run through the middle and ended up with 27 disposals and eight tackles.

Tim Kelly did well also for 24 possessions while Brendan Verrier finished with 27 touches, Ryan Cook 22 and Shaun Bewick 18.

Kyle Russell made his league debut with South Fremantle and showed some good signs in his nine possessions and four marks.

Steven Verrier continued to play throughout the game to allow South Fremantle four men on the bench despite a suspected broken hand.

South Fremantle's season couldn’t have started any better than when Shaw got the game's opening goal after just two minutes. When he added another five minutes later, the Bulldogs were on an early roll.

When Strom added another at the 11-minute mark and then the returning Cory Dell'Olio roved cleverly and snapped one through to mark his WAFL return, suddenly the Bulldogs had four goals on the board before the Lions had even scored.

Subiaco eventually steadied and got a goal back through Lachlan Delahunty, and soon added another to Clancy Wheeler. But South Fremantle still led by 23 points at quarter-time when Donaldson kicked truly on the siren.

That soon became 29 points less than a minute into the second term when Strom kicked his second of the day. There was then a 17-minute gap in goals as both teams traded behinds, including six in succession at one point from Subiaco.

Eventually South Fremantle broke that run thanks to Hams before Saunders added his second and Strom his third just before half-time to give the Bulldogs a commanding 44-point advantage at the long break.

Once more South Fremantle started quickly in the third quarter with Saunders kicking his third goal after just two minutes to make the lead 44 points. It did get to as much as 45 before Subiaco managed a rally late in the third term with goals to Liam Ryan, former Bulldog Bailey Matera, Max Walters and Chris Phelan.

That brought the Lions within 24 points at the last change and then they had some gettable chances they missed to start the fourth quarter. South Fremantle, too, missed some relatively easy shots before two goals in four minute from Hams put the result beyond doubt.

Donaldson went on to add his third major and Saunders a fourth as the Bulldogs went on to record the impressive 39-point Round 1 victory.

South Fremantle's colts got the day off to a good start at Fremantle Community Bank Oval beating Subiaco 9.6 (60) to 7.7 (49).

Ben Sherry was outstanding for the Bulldogs with 20 possessions and three goals. Jesse Mason also kicked three goals and Glenn Byron two.

John Frampton was terrific in the ruck with 22 disposals, four marks and 23 hit outs.

Enrique Aiken-Featherstone gathered 23 touches as well, Nick Giarrizzo 19, Tere Teio-Yarran 19, Brodee Knight 18, Byron 18, Kyle Hamersley 18 and Regan Spooner 17.

South Fremantle's reserves led Subiaco by a point at quarter-time, but the Lions kicked six goals to three over the next two terms to end up leading by 17 points by three quarter-time.

But the Bulldogs finished strongly with the only three goals of the last quarter but ultimately fell one-point short, with Subiaco winning 9.12 (66) to 9.11 (65).

Tom Vandeleur and Mitch Dzelebdzic kicked two goals apiece for the Bulldogs.

Brock Higgins is working his way back to full fitness and he was impressive in the ruck with 17 possessions and 42 hit outs.

Matthew Parker gathered 20 disposals for the Bulldogs, Caleb Datson 19, Travis Abbott 16, Jarrod Garlett 15 (eight tackles, Matthew Grubelich 14, Chad Pearson 14 and Chris Luff 14.

South Fremantle takes on Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval in Round 2 of the WAFL season on Saturday.

SOUTH FREMANTLE        6.1    10.4    13.8    17.14    (116)
SUBIACO             2.2    3.8    9.8    11.11    (77)

SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Saunders 4; Hams, Donaldson, Z Strom 3; Shaw 2; Dell'Olio, S Verrier.
Best: Main, B Verrier, Wilson, Saunders, Schloithe, Hams, Pickett, Kelly.
SUBIACO – Goals: Ryan 3; Walters 2; Perkins, Matera, Powell, Wheeler, Delahunty, Phelan.
Best: Kitchin, Walters, Guiness, Kennedy, Hoskins, Phelan.