Round 21 Preview v Claremont

Saturday, August 12, 2017 - 8:41 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle heads to Claremont Oval to take on a desperate Claremont on Saturday with the Bulldogs shooting for an eighth straight victory to continue to gear up for the upcoming finals campaign.

Claremont returns to its redeveloped home of Claremont Oval on Saturday hosting South Fremantle and needing to win to stay in contention for the finals.

It is a big task for the Tigers up against an in-form Bulldogs team who are on a seven-game winning streak to have guaranteed second position and a home qualifying final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

South Fremantle might not be able to move from second position but will want to ensure it enters the finals in good form on top of there being plenty of pressure within the team for spots so the Bulldogs still have plenty to play for.

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Claremont returned to the winner's list last week with a 99-point victory against Perth at Lathlain Park to revive some life back into its season. Prior to that, the Tigers had lost their past four matches to East Perth, Subiaco, South Fremantle and Peel Thunder.

While Claremont did struggle in losses to top two teams South Fremantle and Subiaco, they only lost to Peel by two points and East Perth by four so it could have easily been different.

But now the Tigers sit seventh with a 7-10 record and will need to win their last three games against South Fremantle, Swan Districts and West Perth to remain in the hunt to play finals.

South Fremantle has won both meetings so far this season against Claremont by 65 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Good Friday and then by 25 points in Round 16 at Claremont Oval.

Both teams will have significant milestones to celebrate on the occasion as well with Claremont wingman Ryan Neates reaching 100 WAFL games as does South Fremantle ruckman Brock Higgins.

Positions in South Fremantle's team heading towards that home qualifying final are going to be tough to come by so now would be a good time for anyone hoping to play come finals time to stake their claim.

Ashton Hams will return from injury on Saturday against Claremont having not played since the Round 18 win in Busselton over East Perth.

Brendan Verrier returned in the reserves against East Fremantle last week and had 41 possessions to stake his claim to return to the league line-up.

Jake Florenca also responded well to his demotion last week racking up 33 disposals, eight tackles and a goal to continue to put himself in the mix for a call up.

Jarrod Parry has also battled hard all season in the reserves on return from his knee reconstruction. He had another 29 disposals and two goals last week to close in on his first league appearance since Round 23, 2015.

Zac Strom looks guaranteed of a return for South Fremantle and to play in defence against Claremont in the absence of key defenders Josh Pullman and Blayne Wilson for the clash with the Tigers.

South Fremantle coach Todd Curley will continue to focus on his own team and not so much what Claremont will throw at the Bulldogs.

"We've been consistent and the areas we need to get better at is within ourselves," Curley said. 

"We haven’t really focused on the opposition too much all year even though we know them and respect them obviously, and know what makes each of them dangerous, but we just want to get our own backyard right."

Claremont regained key players in captain Jake Murphy and milestone man Ryan Neates for last week's win against Perth, and the Tigers will be further strengthened on Saturday against South Fremantle with state ruckman Mitch Andrews back.

It's good timing for Andrews to return after missing the game against Perth as he locks horns with in-form South Fremantle ruckman Brock Higgins who is playing his 100th game.

Ryan Murphy will also return for his first game at league level for the Tigers since Round 15.

Nick Winmar is also in the mix to make his return after a good game in the reserves last week against the Demons with 25 possessions and a goal.

Broadcast – HFM (107.3FM)