Round 19 Preview v Swan Districts

Friday, August 10, 2018 - 9:17 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle moved back into a good position to finish second on the WAFL ladder last week but the Bulldogs do need to keep winning to make that happen on Saturday against Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval.

Swan Districts and South Fremantle might appear destined to finish second last and second come the end of the season based on current ladder positions and form, but that could all change at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday.

Despite having lost seven of their past eight matches, remarkably Swans remain a chance of playing finals in 2018 if they can beat the Bulldogs on home turf on Saturday.

But South Fremantle returned to the WAFL winners' list last week beating West Perth by five points on the back of losses to Peel Thunder and Subiaco and coming out of the Round 17 bye.

Swan Districts and South Fremantle might be in vastly different form based on last week with Swans conceding the first eight goals of the second half to lose to Subiaco by 52 points while the Bulldogs fought hard to overcome West Perth by five points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

Swan Districts currently sits in eighth position on the WAFL ladder with a 6-10 record having been 5-3 at one stage this season. 

But if the black-and-whites can beat South Fremantle and Claremont to close the season either side of next week's bye, then they are still a good chance of playing finals for a second straight season.

However, South Fremantle is strongly positioned now to end up in second position for the third straight year after last week's win against West Perth. That improved the Bulldogs to a 10-5 record on the season with games to go against Swan Districts, Perth and East Fremantle.

South Fremantle might currently be in third position but has a game in hand on West Perth so if the Bulldogs keep winning, they will naturally finish in second spot to earn a home qualifying final against the Falcons in the first week of the finals.

South Fremantle has enjoyed playing against Swan Districts for the most part in recent times winning three straight matches by an average of 44.3 points.

That included a hard-fought Round 6 win this year at Fremantle Community Bank Oval and an 80-point triumph also on home turf last year in the first semi-final that ended Swan Districts' season.

Going back further, South Fremantle has won seven of the last eight and eight of the past 10 matches against Swan Districts.

But giving Swans hope of a good performance on Saturday is the fact that their past two wins against the Bulldogs have both come at Steel Blue Oval – by 21 points in Round 2 last year and by 21 points in Round 4 of 2015.

Remarkably prior to this run of South Fremantle winning eight of 10 games, Swan Districts had won nine in-a-row against South Fremantle, and 12 of 13 from Round 3, 2010 to Round 13, 2014.

South Fremantle might have returned to the winners' list last Saturday beating West Perth to enhance its prospects of still finishing in second position, but the Bulldogs have again made at least three changes coming into Saturday's clash with Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval.

Steve Verrier comes straight back in for the Bulldogs after serving his one-week suspension during last week's win over West Perth, but that meant he hasn’t played for two weeks given the Round 17 bye following the loss to Peel.

Josh Collard and Daniel Cabassi are also in the mix to return for South Fremantle while three more potential debutants are in the selection hunt in the form of Chris Ah Siu, Zac De San Miguel and Blair Della Franca.

Matthew Parker goes out of the South Fremantle side that beat West Perth last week due to suspension and he will be a significant loss given he's kicked 24 goals for the season.

Seaton Thompson and Jake Florenca are the other two players going out of the Bulldogs line-up.

That all means that captain Dylan Main and triple Bernie Naylor Medallist Ben Saunders will both miss at least another week for South Fremantle.

South Fremantle coach Todd Curley hopes the Bulldogs can now continue that momentum from last week.

"That's been our focus. Even against Peel during the second and third, and early in the last, quarters we were pretty good but the first quarter put us under so much pressure and we had to come from so far behind that it just wears you down," Curley said.

"That's probably as close to a good four quarters that we've played. We talk about how we want to play all the time, but it's good to be able to see it and for some of them to feel what that's like. Hopefully that will be a catalyst to continue."

Swan Districts continues to be unable to get its best team on the park and any time one or two key players seems to come back at the moment, another goes out.

Already without Matthew Rogers, Todd Banfield and Jarrad Blight, among others, Swans will lose Rhys Palmer for this Saturday's clash with South Fremantle after he got hurt in the first half last week against Subiaco at Leederville Oval.

Warrick Wilson will also go out of the Swans team having played all 16 matches so far in 2018. But he struggled with just eight possessions last Saturday against the Lions.

On the more positive side, co-captain David Ellard looks set to return from a calf injury to play his first game with Swan Districts since Round 14 against Perth.

Freddie Clutterbuck should also be back for Swans after missing last week against Subiaco and bring with him his 137 games of WAFL experience.

Ethan Maguire has continued to play well in the reserves and could get his first crack in the league side since Round 3 while Jarrod Cameron and Mitchell Bain are two more youngsters who could be given an opportunity by coach Adam Pickering.

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