Grand Final to forget for Bulldogs

Monday, September 23, 2019 - 12:40 PM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle had done a tremendous job to reach the 2019 WAFL Grand Final but it didn’t turn out how the Bulldogs hoped with Subiaco asserting its dominance with a 96-point victory.

It was a richly deserved Grand Final appearance for South Fremantle after four successive second place finishes at the end of the home and away season.

After losing the past three preliminary finals to Peel Thunder in 2016, Subiaco in 2017 and West Perth in 2018, South Fremantle broke through to beat Claremont in the 2019 preliminary final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

That set up the Grand Final that had been four years in the making considering Subiaco and South Fremantle had finished four straight seasons as the top two teams in the WAFL.

But come Grand Final day at Optus Stadium on Sunday, Subiaco proved too strong for South Fremantle with the Lions making it back-to-back premierships in what was their sixth straight Grand Final appearance.

For South Fremantle's players, 20 of them played in a WAFL Grand Final for the first time while Nick Suban played in his fourth and tasted defeat for the first time and Blayne Wilson played in the third Grand Final defeat of his career on the day where he also reached 100 games with South Fremantle.

South Fremantle was the only side to beat Subiaco since the 2017 Grand Final and the Bulldogs had an experienced group to raise their hopes of taking it up to the Lions, and the first 10 minutes saw signs that could come to fruition.

There were few highlights for South Fremantle but Nick Suban and Dylan Main collected 20 possessions apiece, Steve Verrier had 19 touches and seven tackles, and Jake Florenca 18 disposals and eight tackles.

Chad Pearson did well defensively keeping Ryan Borchet goalless and having 15 possessions while Zac Dent battled hard defensively as well.

Brock Higgins couldn’t have fought harder in the ruck and finished with 13 possessions, four tackles and 51 hit outs. 

Adam McIntosh and Shaun Bewick both gave their all in what will be the last games of their WAFL career that have last 116 and 154 games respectively.

Subiaco kicked the game's first goal thanks to Harry Marsh but then South Fremantle retiree Shaun Bewick responded in the 154th and final game of his WAFL career.

That would be as good as the Grand Final got for the Bulldogs. Subiaco closed the first quarter with goals to Clancy Wheeler, Ben Sokol and Ben Newton as they held a 20-point advantage at quarter-time.

Any hope of South Fremantle regrouping at the break was quickly put to bed with a goal early in the second term to Sandover Medallist Lachlan Delahunty. Sokol then added a second and Simon Moore another to make it a 41-point ball game. 

Justin Joyce delivered another and so did Thomas Edwards-Baldwin just before half-time with Subiaco going into the long break 53 points to the good and having held South Fremantle to a point in the second term.

There would be no let up from the Lions as Sokol kicked his third of the afternoon against his former team after just a minute of the second half. 

Delahunty's remarkable work rate and running ability for a man his size was rewarded with a mark in the forward pocket and a brilliant snap for a goal as his hapless opponent Brock Higgins looked on in exhaustion.

Horsley then kicked a beauty for Subiaco to make the margin 70 points before South Fremantle finally got its second goal of the afternoon more than two full quarters after the first. 

Haiden Schloithe kicked it but Sokol added his fourth before three quarter-time and it was a 68-point margin at the last change.

Sokol added a fifth to open the last quarter before Marsh kicked his second and then captain Leigh Kitchin pinched a beauty from a throw-up in the goal square. 

A 100-point margin was on the cards when Sokol booted his sixth but Kade Stewart did at least kick a third for South Fremantle to avoid that. 

Marsh still kicked the last goal of the Grand Final as Subiaco romped to the 96-point triumph.

OPTUS WAFL GRAND FINAL 2019

SOUTH FREMANTLE        1.1    1.2    2.5    3.6    (24)
SUBIACO            4.3    9.7    13.7    18.12    (120)

SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Schloithe, Stewart, Bewick.
Best: Main, Verrier, Florenca, Pearson, Higgins, Suban.
SUBIACO – Goals: Sokol 6; Marsh 3; Delahunty 2; Kitchin, Joyce, Moore, Newton, Wheeler, Horsley, Edwards-Baldwin.
Best: Sokol, Horsley, Delahunty, Braut, Newton, Lockyer, Marsh.

SIMPSON MEDAL – Ben Sokol (Subiaco)