WA Day Foundation Derby v East Fremantle Preview

Monday, June 5, 2017 - 12:19 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle will be looking to return to the winner's list and retain second spot on the WAFL ladder while keeping East Fremantle winless in 2017 in the WA Day Foundation Derby at East Fremantle Oval.

The Foundation Derby rivalry is the richest in the history of WA football and it continues to be regularly the highest-attended fixture in the WAFL season after season on WA Day.

The Sharks and Bulldogs will be hoping for another strong turnout from the public on this WA Day Monday holiday at East Fremantle Oval with both teams desperate to return to the winner's list.

Both teams have had the chance to refresh and regroup with the state game break last weekend that saw the WAFL State Team make history by beating the VFL at North Port Oval. That was the first time any WA side has defeated Victoria in Melbourne.

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It provided a break for most of those in the East Fremantle and South Fremantle teams though.

East Fremantle had just the one representative in the WAFL's 63-point triumph. Jonathon Marsh took part in the win starting the game as a midfielder before finishing in the back-line after East Perth's Kyle Anderson injured a shoulder just before quarter-time.

South Fremantle, meanwhile, had four representatives in the WA team with Ben Saunders kicking six goals to win the Simpson Medal while Tim Kelly, Ryan Cook and Haiden Schloithe all played significant roles in the eventual victory.

Saying that both teams come into Foundation Derby on losing streaks doesn’t quite tell the tale of where the clubs are positioned in 2017.

East Fremantle remains winless after eight games this season and just getting that elusive four points is as far ahead as the Sharks can try to look at this point.

It has been a disastrous start to the season and while there have been key players out injured, there's no reason the Sharks team that is taking the field each and every week shouldn’t be more competitive.

They perhaps delivered their best performance of the season two weeks ago against Subiaco at Leederville Oval. East Fremantle actually hit the front during the second half and even though it ended up being a 31-point loss, it was an improved showing.

But competitive efforts can't be enough for the Sharks anymore, they need to start getting some wins on the board to take something positive out of 2017.

So far the eight losses have came at an average losing margin of 48 points. East Fremantle is the lowest scoring team in the league at just 67.8 points a game and is the worst defensively coughing up 116.1.

East Fremantle is the worst performing team across the league in second and last quarters. In second terms, they have been outscored by an average of 15 points every week. Last terms have been particularly bad with the Sharks averaging a score of just 16 points while giving up 40.

Heading into the state game break and now coming into the Foundation Derby, South Fremantle is also on its first losing streak of the season.

South Fremantle started 2017 so impressively handing Subiaco its only defeat so far by the tune of 39 points. The Bulldogs had a slip up the next week against Swan Districts before going on to score strong wins over Peel Thunder, West Perth, Claremont, East Fremantle and Perth.

During that five-game winning run, South Fremantle won by an average of 62.4 points and was scoring 117.8 points a game and conceding only 55.4.

It was quite the emphatic run of form but the Bulldogs fell back to earth in the last two games starting with a 39-point loss to Subiaco before then coughing up a match-winning lead in the fourth quarter to lose to East Perth by a point at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

However, South Fremantle remains in second position on the ladder and will stay there with a win on Monday. The Bulldogs could also move a game clear in that second spot if West Perth loses to East Perth.

The two teams did meet back on Anzac Day and on that occasion at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, South Fremantle proved too strong winning by 41 points.

That made it two straight wins for the Bulldogs over the Sharks and given they were both on home turf, it ended a remarkable run where the previous 13 Fremantle derbies were all won by the visiting team.

That means that as South Fremantle heads to East Fremantle Oval this WA Day, the Bulldogs are looking to make it eight straight victories at Shark Park.

East Fremantle's last home victory in a derby came back in Round 7, 2012 by 85 points.

South Fremantle coach Todd Curley knows East Fremantle will come out hungry but he's looking to continue the Bulldogs' good run at Shark Park.

"Derbies are derbies and East Fremantle have been building and have played some pretty good footy in the last month and been unlucky. They were really good here against us three weeks ago, their pressure was great so we will have to be at our best," Curley said.

"I think it’s a big ground and we enjoy playing there. We’ve been pretty good away the last couple of years most of our away games we’ve been really competitive and if we haven’t won them we’ve been pretty close. So hopefully we continue that trend."

Spots are tight at South Fremantle despite the two losses prior to the state game break.

Blayne Wilson is an automatic inclusion after he missed the loss to East Perth through illness.

Steve Verrier has now had two games back in the reserves following a broken hand so he's getting closer to a league recall. Jake Florenca and Brandon Donaldson are also in the mix to come in for the Foundation Derby on WA Day as well.

East Fremantle's hopes of scoring the upset Foundation Derby victory won't be helped with the loss to injury of perhaps its two most important players, George Hampson and Brock O'Brien. Liam Anthony remains sidelined as well.

The Sharks could unleash some more debutants on the biggest day on the WAFL calendar with Lachlan Bailey, Ben Harding and Leon Pearton all in the mix to make what would be their league debuts.

Peel Thunder recruit Nathan Fahey could also make his first league appearance since joining East Fremantle this year with Peter Delaney, Miles Franklin, Joel Kalajzic and Jesse Mirco the other players in contention at the selection table.

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