Round 3 Preview v Peel Thunder

Friday, March 31, 2017 - 4:48 PM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle started the season so impressively and now after a hiccup last week will look to bounce back hard this Saturday against Peel Thunder in Mandurah.

The Bulldogs were tremendous in Round 1 against Subiaco winning by 39 points before an inaccurate and inefficient performance against Swan Districts last week.

However, South Fremantle now heads to Bendigo Bank Stadium looking to rebound straightaway up against a Peel team coming off winning the 2016 premiership and who has now won seven games in-a-row.

The league game will bouncedown at 2.15pm. The 16s clash begins the day at 9am before the REDiMED Colts play at 11.30am and then the reserves play at 5pm.

Peel won last year's premiership on the back of winning in the last round of the home and away season and then all four finals.

There is no sign of a premiership hangover at the Thunder with them having now beaten East Perth and East Fremantle to open the new season stretching its winning run to seven games.

Peel couldn’t have started the new season in any more impressive fashion even if it was against two teams yet to win a game in 2017.

First up was a low-scoring affair under lights at Leederville Oval with Peel beating East Perth by 17 points. Then last week the Thunder dominated to beat the Sharks by 86 points having unfurled their premiership flag earlier in the day.

Peel will be full of confidence heading into Saturday's clash with South Fremantle at Bendigo Bank Stadium and rightfully so, but the Bulldogs were impressive in Round 1 before a hiccup last week.

Coming off a second place finish in 2016 before ending up losing to Peel in the preliminary final, South Fremantle began 2017 in tremendous fashion beating Subiaco by 39 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

The Bulldogs, however, couldn’t keep that going last week on a trip to Steel Blue Oval losing to Swan Districts by 21 points paying for their inaccuracy in front of goal inefficiency around the field.

Looking back on 2016, South Fremantle did well in the two meetings during the season beating Peel by 41 points in Round 9 at home and by 32 points in Round 13 in Mandurah. 

But that all changed on preliminary final day with the Thunder winning by 39 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

With limited injury from Fremantle, Peel is also able to have a relatively stable team early on in the season as well helping maintain that good form.

With Fremantle making no changes for its team to take on Port Adelaide on Sunday, the Thunder should still have Ethan Hughes and Matt Taberner against the Bulldogs despite both being named as emergencies.

Then there are five players to come into calculations for the Thunder who have been in good form in the reserves.

Nick Merritt kicked six goals last week against East Fremantle, Brett Milward had 15 possessions, six tackles and a goal, Haydn Matthews racked up 23 disposals while laying eight tackles, and Michael Tassone had 12 touches. Fremantle's Luke Ryan could also make his WAFL league debut.

South Fremantle will lose former Gold Coast Suns AFL player Jarrod Garlett to an ankle injury, but there are some important players pressing for selection.

Brock Higgins has now had two games in the reserves to build some match fitness and last week in the reserves against Swan Districts the bullocking ruckman had 11 possessions and 30 hit outs.

Defender Chris Luff could come in against his former side after 28 possessions and nine marks last week while Shane Hockey and Jacob Dragovich could come straight in for South Fremantle on return from injury.

South Fremantle premiership-winning small forward is looking forward to the challenge against the Thunder.

"Peel have started the season really impressively this year after obviously finishing off last year so well with winning the grand final," Dell'Olio said.

"After a disappointing lost for us last week I think playing a strong opposition is exactly what we need. It will be a huge challenge but if we can bring our best footy it will be a really good game and hopefully we can get on the winning end of."

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