Round 14 Preview v Perth

Friday, July 12, 2019 - 5:59 PM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle takes part in night football this Saturday against Perth at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park with the Bulldogs determined to return to the WAFL winner's list in Steve Verrier's 100th match.

Night football then takes place on Saturday evening with plenty on the line when Perth hosts South Fremantle at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park.

The ground's redevelopment to become the home base for the West Coast Eagles has seen some terrific lighting installed at the venue to allow for night fixtures and it should be quite the spectacle on Saturday night with the Demons and Bulldogs battling it out.

It's a significant game for both clubs too who are trying to recapture their early season form.

Perth won its opening five matches of the season but since then have won just two of seven games including suffering a 31-point defeat at the hands of West Perth at HBF Arena last Saturday.

That has the Demons just clinging to fourth position with a 7-5 record and a loss on Saturday evening will leave them vulnerable inside the top five with five matches of the 2019 season remaining.

South Fremantle also started the season tremendously winning eight of its opening nine matches including handing Subiaco its only defeat of the past two years.

But the Bulldogs have now lost their past three matches against Subiaco, West Coast and Claremont to slip to an 8-4 record to have gone from battling over top spot three weeks ago against the Lions to now facing the prospect of slipping to fourth position with a loss to Perth on Saturday night.

However, the positive for South Fremantle is because of its start to the season is that a win against the Demons and depending on how Claremont fares against Subiaco on Sunday, the Bulldogs could either return to second position on the ladder or be only percentage behind the Tigers.

During Perth's run of five wins to open the season, they were averaging a score of 81.2 points a game while conceding just 59.4 points. In the seven games since, they have averaged scoring only 57.6 points while giving up 79.0 points.

In South Fremantle's opening nine games of which they won eight, they were averaging kicking 91.6 points a game and giving up just 66.6 points. In the Bulldogs' past three losses, they have scored just 57.7 points and given up 81.0 points.

The teams have already met once this season and that was Round 2 at Fremantle Community Bank Oval in what turned out to be a tremendous contest with Perth winning by three points. 

That was in the middle of the Demons' five-game winning streak to start the season while for the Bulldogs it was the catalyst into their seven-game winning run.

Now Saturday night's game looms as a massive one in the context of the season for both clubs in what shapes as a tremendous contest.

It's going to be a significant night for Bulldogs utility and tough nut Steve Verrier as well.

Having grown up supporting South Fremantle, coming through the ranks and achieve colts success with the Bulldogs and now playing his league football at the club before and after his AFL stint at Richmond, he brings up game 100 on Saturday night.

But he's just focused on how the Bulldogs can return to the winner's list.

"We haven’t played our best footy lately but I feel like we did have a very good first half last week and we've had a really good week on the track," Verrier said.

"The energy has been up and everyone is in a good vibe at the moment. We know it's a massive game for the club to get closer to that 12 games that we want to know that we'll play finals and then hopefully finish as high up as we can. 

"Hopefully we can get the win but we know Perth are going to come out firing at the same time. They've had a bit of a tough run of late with form too but we know they are a quality side. But hopefully we can come out strongly and keep it going."

South Fremantle coach Todd Curley doesn’t feel much changes for a night game and is hoping the Bulldogs can recapture some of their best form.

"In terms of it being a big game, they are all big games. We're not worried about positions on the ladder at the moment, we're just worried about getting back to playing good footy. If we play well then the position on the ladder will take care of itself," Curley said.

"Other than turning the lights on, that's probably the biggest difference. It's a good experience for the players to play under lights. 

"You start a bit later so it changes your preparation and routine a little, but most of them have played enough footy now where they'll just be looking forward to playing under lights. 

"It would be nice to play a dry one, but it's footy and it's a winter sport so in the middle of July we'll take what we get."