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Bulldogs return to ominous form to book preliminary final berth

Monday, September 11, 2017 - 4:25 PM - by Chris Pike
SOUTH Fremantle bounced back emphatically beating Swan Districts by 80 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval in the first semi-final on Sunday kicking 17 of the last 20 goals to advance to the preliminary final against Subiaco.
After having such an impressive home and away season ending with a nine-game winning streak for a 16-4 record and to be in second position, the pressure was back on South Fremantle to beat Swan Districts on Sunday in the first semi-final on home turf.
The Bulldogs had lost by 18 points in the qualifying final last Saturday while Swans were coming in off the high of a strong performance to beat West Perth in the elimination final at Steel Blue Oval last Sunday setting up an intriguing cut-throat contest.
Swans came out and threw everything at the Bulldogs early as well and with Ryan Crowley and David Ellard particularly prominent through the middle, they were able to hold a nine-point advantage early in the second quarter.
But from there South Fremantle regained some of its most impressive form kicking 17 of the game's last 20 goals to end up winning 20.16 (136) to 8.8 (56).
That means the Bulldogs advance to the preliminary final on Sunday against Subiaco at Leederville Oval with the winner to move into the Grand Final for 2017 against Peel Thunder.
The season is over for Swan Districts as are the careers of Tallan Ames, Ryan Crowley and Jamie Bennell along with the coaching tenure of Greg Harding who has been at the helm since 2011.
South Fremantle had a host of players who needed to stand up following the qualifying final loss to Peel, but one of those wasn’t ruckman Brock Higgins and the big man delivered another standout performance up against Corey Gault from Swan Districts.
Higgins finished with 15 possessions and 45 hit outs.
Shane Hockey stood up to deliver a standout performance in the midfield too with 34 disposals, seven inside 50s and five tackles while getting outstanding support from a host of others.
Haiden Schloithe ended up with 32 possessions and two goals, Ashton Hams 26 disposals, Ryan Cook 26 touches and nine marks, Tim Kelly 23 possessions and three goals, and Dylan Main 21 disposals and two goals. Jarrod Garlett also had his good moments with 19 possessions.
South Fremantle's forward-line struggled against Peel but was outstanding against Swan Districts starting with the pressure coming from those forwards. Blaine Johnson also kicked four goals and Ben Saunders three.
Tom Vandeleur played a defensive forward role on Swan Districts big man Tony Notte and did well limiting the 201-game player to 12 touches and four marks while having 11 disposals, five marks and a goal himself.
The Bulldogs' back-line stood tall also with Zac Strom who was outstanding against Swans full-forward Ricky Cary holding him to four kicks and one goal. Blayne Wilson also had 14 disposals and eight marks down back while Jason Maskos held Bennell to one goal and six kicks.
The only downside was a groin injury for South Fremantle to Steve Verrier but he remains hopeful of playing in Sunday's preliminary final.
It took just two minutes for the Bulldogs to start brightly with an early goal to Ben Saunders after he was part of the quiet forward-line a week ago. But Swans had again come out a determined outfit and kicked the next two goals from Brayden Noble and Ryan Crowley.
South Fremantle regained the lead through Cory Dell'Olio before Todd Banfield put Swans back in front after two 50m penalties. 
The lead changes continued with a Bulldogs goal to Dylan Main but the black-and-whites went into quarter-time three points up thanks to a late opportunist snap from Jamie Bennell that cleared Shaun Bewick who slipped in the goal square.
Swans threatened to really build some momentum with the opening goal of the second term to Crowley to put the pressure right back on the highly-favoured South Fremantle.
But the Bulldogs responded impressively kicking the next five goals in the space of 13 minutes as their pressure in the forward half went up a cog to create a host of chances.
Crowley's third steadied things briefly for the black-and-whites before South Fremantle again kicked three more before half-time to Blaine Johnson, Schloithe and Main to be 35 points up at the long break.
Swans did keep somewhat in touch to start the second half with the opening goal courtesy of Banfield. It took South Fremantle until the 17-minute to get a goal but they had been missing a host of chances before Saunders kicked truly with his third major.
Bewick then marked his return with a terrific goal from 50 and when Johnson added a second just before three quarter-time, the Bulldogs were on the way to the preliminary final with 49 points.
South Fremantle's lead grew to 56 points to start the last term with a goal to Ryan Cook before Swans responded through Ricky Cary who had just four kicks for the day.
But it was all South Fremantle from there as the Bulldogs enjoyed themselves and built up the confidence ahead of the preliminary final with Subiaco. South Fremantle finished the game with goals to Kelly, Johnson, Tom Vandeleur, Kelly again and Johnson again to end up winning by 80 points.
There was a nice moment late when Swan Districts orchestrated for Tallan Ames to try and finish his career with his 54th goal but unfortunately his left boot wasn’t quite on target.
SOUTH FREMANTLE 3.4 11.7 14.13 20.16 (136)
SWAN DISTRICTS 4.1 6.2 7.5 8.8 (56)
SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Johnson 4; Saunders, Kelly 3; Schloithe, Main 2; Dell'Olio, Bewick, Vandeleur, Parker, Hams, Cook.
Best: Higgins, Hockey, Schloithe, Kelly, Strom, Vandeleur, Cook, Kelly.
SWAN DISTRICS – Goals: Crowley 3; Banfield 2; Bennell, Cary, Noble.
Best: Crowley, Ellard, Taylor, Ugle, Riggio, Banfield.

McIntosh proud to join Bulldogs greats on No. 7 locker

Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 5:35 PM - by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle defender Adam McIntosh wanted to leave a legacy at the Bulldogs and his first chance to do that is by reaching 100 games in Sunday's first semi-final as he joins the likes of Steve Marsh and Theo Adams on the No. 7 locker.

McIntosh made his league debut with South Fremantle back in 2011 having had to do a significant apprenticeship to earn that chance under dual premiership coach John Dimmer, but his first stint was short-lived to do a knee injury suffered early in Round 5 against Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval.

He was back for the start of 2012 and aside from a stint in the reserves in the back half of 2014 and then missing the second half of 2016 with his horrible broken ankle, McIntosh has cemented himself as one of the most consistent and reliable mid-size defenders in the WAFL.

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First Semi-Final Preview v Swan Districts

Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 1:24 PM - by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle is back at home on Sunday to host Swan Districts in a WAFL first semi-final looking to bounce back hard from last week to remain alive in the race for the 2017 premiership.

South Fremantle is back at Fremantle Community Bank Oval for the second straight week to open the AHG WAFL Finals Series but this time it's a cut-throat first semi-final against a Swan Districts on a high after winning last Sunday.

The Bulldogs hosted last Saturday's qualifying final against Peel Thunder but went down by 18 points to need to beat Swans this Sunday to avoid what would be a disappointing straight sets finals exit given the season they have had.

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Reserves Second Semi-Final Preview v Subiaco

Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 1:15 PM - by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle's reserves have been the dominant team throughout the 2017 season and the Bulldogs will look to shake off the disappointment of losing home ground advantage on Sunday to advance through to the Grand Final.

The Bulldogs' reserves had an outstanding 2017 season ending up with a 16-4 record to be two games and percentage clear on top of the ladder earning the break in the opening week of the AHG WAFL Finals Series.

That saw Subiaco and Claremont do battle in last week's qualifying final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval for the right to play South Fremantle in this Sunday's second semi-final.

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Match Day Info – First Semi-Final

Friday, September 8, 2017 - 5:58 PM

SOUTH Fremantle will host a big day of AHG WAFL Finals Series action again this Sunday with the Bulldogs hosting Swan Districts in the first semi-final.

Having lost to Peel Thunder in the qualifying final last Saturday, South Fremantle now must beat Swan Districts on Sunday to keep its season alive. The winner will advance to the preliminary final against the loser of the second semi-final between Subiaco and Peel Thunder. The season is over for the loser.

It will be a big day at Fremantle Community Bank Oval starting with the colts first semi-final between Swan Districts and East Perth. The reserves first semi-final then sees Claremont take on Swan Districts.

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Player Column – Adam McIntosh First Semi-Final

Friday, September 8, 2017 - 11:58 AM - by Adam McIntosh

WE were pretty disappointed with last Saturday's performance. We thought we didn’t play anywhere near to our best footy and it was pretty frustrating because we showed in that last quarter when we do play well, we can put it on the scoreboard pretty quickly. It was a frustrating and disappointing day.

We knew at the start of the year that if East Perth or Peel made the finals that they could have 15 AFL-listed players so that's not an issue we are worrying about it, and it's certainly not an excuse for the way we played on Saturday. A lot of other people might be talking about that, but not us.

They probably beat us in the midfield, forward-line and back-line so that's pretty disappointing. We have just come back to the training track this week and worked hard on it, and hopefully we'll get a crack at either them or Subi next week if we're able to get past Swan Districts on Sunday. We would like another crack at them especially though.

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Coach Post Match – Todd Curley Qualifying Final

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 7:11 AM - by Chris Pike

WHAT South Fremantle coach Todd Curley had to say following Saturday's WAFL qualifying final loss to Peel Thunder and looking ahead to this Sunday's cut-throat first semi-final against Swan Districts.

QUESTION: Was that a similar slow start to what you did suffer at different times during the second half of the season?
I actually don’t think it was much to do with our start, I think we were just beaten by a team that was a bit harder around the contest to be fair. I thought they were much better around the ball early and got it going their way. I don’t know if it was a sluggish start, I just thought we were beaten.

Q: That ability to be good in tight and win the contested ball has been a strength of yours throughout the season, what was your reaction to being beaten in that area?
It's probably disappointing more than anything. Certainly for the first half they were better around the ball than us but they even spread better than us which is not our go. The thing about finals is that you've got to be at your best and we were well below that with a lot of guys down. We had some senior guys who just couldn’t contribute so we have to be better.

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Bulldogs lose to Thunder but back home to host Swans

Monday, September 4, 2017 - 1:41 PM - by Chris Pike
SOUTH Fremantle showed signs of a stirring comeback in the last quarter but it wasn’t enough with Peel Thunder winning the WAFL qualifying final by 18 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
South Fremantle came into the qualifying final on home turf at Fremantle Community Bank Oval and on a nine-game winning streak, but slow starts have been the problem for the Bulldogs at different times this season and it was again the case on Saturday.
It wasn’t so much that South Fremantle started slowly this time, but it was the sheer intensity that Peel came out with and their hardness at the contest and pressure they put on the Bulldogs that made life challenging for the home side.
Peel kicked the first two goals of the game and then had opened a 17-point advantage by half-time. That lead grew to 36 points by early in the last term and the game looked over.
But South Fremantle has shown the ability to pile on goals quickly right throughout the season and the Bulldogs got going for the first time in the game for a seven-minute stretch in the last quarter.
They kicked four goals in that stretch to bring most of the 3500 fans in attendance to full voice. But it wouldn’t last and Peel got a steadying goal to claim the 12.8 (80) to 9.8 (62) victory.
The win means that Peel advances to play Subiaco in Sunday's second semi-final at Leederville Oval with a grand final spot at stake on the back of winning all four finals last year on the way to the premiership.
South Fremantle now is into the knockout stages and will host Swan Districts on Sunday in the first semi-final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Brock Higgins was the standout performer on the day for South Fremantle with the workhorse of a ruckman more than holding his own against Fremantle and Peel pair Jonathon Griffin and Sean Darcy. He finished the game with 18 possessions, 35 hit outs, five inside-50 entries and a goal. 
That goal was his first since last year's preliminary final and just his 10th in 71 games with South Fremantle.
Ashton Hams was a four-quarter contributor for the Bulldogs ending the game with 25 disposals, eight marks and a terrific long goal in the first quarter.
Tim Kelly (24 touches, 10 tackles) and Haiden Schloithe (24 disposals, six tackles) worked their way into the contest while captain Ryan Cook finished with 22 possessions and nine marks. Dylan Main also had 20 disposals for the Bulldogs.
South Fremantle's defence held up reasonably well led by the returning Jason Maskos who limited Leroy Jetta to four kicks and two goals while having 18 possessions and five marks himself.
Blayne Wilson ended up with 20 disposals and 11 marks from down back with Steven Edwards offering good run again with 19 touches and a goal. Marlion Pickett also had 18 possessions and seven tackles.
Matthew Parker was the pick of South Fremantle's forwards kicking three goals in his first final at league level and just his fifth game.
Peel's talls also had the potential to cause South Fremantle problems and that looked even more the case when Sean Darcy kicked the first goal of the qualifying final. The Thunder then ensured they made an impressive start with a goal to captain Gerald Ugle.
South Fremantle did respond with the next two through Matthew Parker and Ashton Hams, but Peel went into quarter-time with a nine-point lead and six scoring shots to two following a goal to Cameron Sutcliffe.
It took just 20 seconds of the second term for South Fremantle to get on the board courtesy of Brock Higgins who kicked his first goal of 2017. The Bulldogs then hit the front for the first time when Mason Shaw kicked truly also just two minutes later.
The momentum wouldn’t last for the Bulldogs, though, with Peel getting the immediate response through Matt Taberner. Leroy Jetta then kicked another for Peel and just before half-time Taberner added his second and the Thunder went into the break in front by 17 points.
That soon became 23 points in the third quarter when Ugle kicked his second and 29 after Jetta booted his second as well. 
Blaine Johnson eventually got a goal back for South Fremantle at the 21-minute mark but Peel remained in control with two more goals from Tom Sheridan and Ben Hancock before three quarter-time to be up 32 points.
Peel's lead grew to 36 points seven minutes into the final quarter when Taylin Duman kicked truly but South Fremantle was always going to fire at some point and that would happen over the next 10 minutes.
It started when Parker kicked his second of the game before Saunders added his first and then Parker kicked a beauty from 50m right in front of the vocal members.
All of a sudden with some scintillating ball movement Steven Edwards got to show off his lightning pace to run on to a ball and go into an open goal. That goal made the margin just 12 points with plenty of time and momentum on the side of the Bulldogs.
But a turnover in defence saw Ugle kick his third goal for the Thunder and they again led by 18 points and that was that.
SOUTH FREMANTLE 2.0 4.2 5.5 9.8 (62)
PEEL THUNDER 3.3 6.7 10.7 12.8 (80)
SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Parker 3; Hams, Saunders, Johnson, Higgins, Edwards, Shaw.
Best: Higgins, Hams, Maskos, Kelly, Wilson, Schloithe, Edwards.
PEEL THUNDER – Goals: Ugle 3; Jetta, Taberner 2; Sheridan, Hancock, Darcy, Sutcliffe, Duman.
Best: Suban, Deluca, Collins, O'Brien, Nyhuis, Ugle, Sutcliffe.

Qualifying Final Preview v Peel Thunder

Saturday, September 2, 2017 - 10:41 AM - by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle heads into Saturday's WAFL qualifying final on a nine-game winning run and looking to get a measure of revenge on Peel Thunder and book in for a shot against Subiaco.

South Fremantle will host Peel Thunder in Saturday's qualifying final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval to open the AHG WAFL Finals Series for 2017 and it's shaping as a tremendous contest with plenty on the line.

South Fremantle earned the right to host the clash by finishing in second position at the end of the home and away season with a 16-4 record and currently being on a nine-game winning streak.

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Player Column – Tim Kelly Qualifying Final

Friday, September 1, 2017 - 3:12 PM - by Tim Kelly

IT is nice that the finals are here now and we've worked very hard to earn the right to have a home final. The boys and I now can't wait to get out there on Saturday.

Even though we might have known we were going to finish second for a while, we haven’t wanted to take our foot off the pedal at all and every game is a chance to practice good habits and to play the brand of footy we want to play. 

It can be challenging with a week like last week knowing you are playing the same team two weeks in-a-row, but we're not going to have the same team as last Saturday and neither will they. We know that this Saturday will be a whole different challenge and we are looking forward to it.

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