Round 23 Preview v Peel Thunder

Saturday, August 26, 2017 - 1:26 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle is back from the bye and looking to continue its winning run and stretching it to nine entering the finals ahead of Saturday's clash with Peel Thunder in the WAFL final round on Saturday at Bendigo Bank Stadium.

The two teams are guaranteed to finish second and third respectively come the end of the home and away season no matter what happens in Mandurah on Saturday.

That means that South Fremantle will be hosting Peel Thunder in next week's qualifying final on Saturday afternoon at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

That sets the stage for a trial run for both clubs on Saturday at Bendigo Bank Stadium, but winning form is always preferred heading into any finals campaign and a potential psychological blow could be struck if one team is able to get hold of the other in the contest.

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No matter what happens, South Fremantle is certain of finishing in second position at the end of the home and away season for a second straight season.

The Bulldogs come into Saturday's game with a 15-4 record to be well clear in second spot and on an eight-game winning streak to have earned the home final in the first week, and a finals double chance.

Peel has also at least given the club a chance to defend the premiership it won last year by being guaranteed of third position on the WAFL ladder currently sitting on a 12-7 record having won its past two matches against Perth and East Fremantle.

The wins haven’t been overly convincing against the two sides fighting it out over the wooden spoon in 2017, but the eight points gained has been enough for the Thunder to secure third position and a double chance in the finals.

The Thunder, by finishing third, will either go into the second week of the finals playing Subiaco for a grand final spot or hosting the first semi-final in Mandurah.

Peel and South Fremantle have already played one another twice this season with South Fremantle winning in Mandurah by 43 points back in Round 3. But Peel then opened a match-winning lead and held on to beat South Fremantle by a goal at Fremantle Community Bank Oval in Round 12.

Even dating back to last year the two teams had some terrific contests including in the preliminary final that the Thunder won by 39 points. Before that South Fremantle had won both games during the season by 32 and 31 points respectively.

Going back to 2015, Peel won all three clashes against South Fremantle so the contests between the two clubs has been a rollercoaster ride in recent years.

It's fair to say their style of football is dramatically different as well with South Fremantle the highest scoring team in the league at 112.5 points a game while Peel is the lowest scoring side outside the bottom two sides at 73.3 points per game.

But Peel's defence is second only to Subiaco's conceding only 63.8 points a game while South Fremantle gives up 70.2.

Throughout the season South Fremantle has scored 100 or more points in a game on 12 occasions while Peel has managed that only twice with the last time way back in Round 10 against Perth in a 90-point triumph.

But on the other side of the ledger, South Fremantle has held its opponents to 60 points or less six times while Peel has managed that nine times including conceding only 55 points in each of the past two weeks.

South Fremantle is coming off the bye last week and having beaten West Perth, Perth, Claremont, Swan Districts, East Perth, West Perth, East Fremantle and Claremont since that narrow loss to Peel back in Round 12.

From that team that beat the Tigers by 32 points at Claremont Oval a fortnight ago, regular and important players Josh Pullman, Haiden Schloithe and Blayne Wilson all look set to return.

Then there is Jake Florenca, Kyle Russell and Brandon Donaldson who are in the selection mix.

Jason Maskos, Marlion Pickett and Brendan Verrier all go out of the South Fremantle line-up.

Peel is coming into Saturday's game after those wins against the Demons and Sharks, and a three-game winning run including a victory over the Bulldogs wouldn’t be worst way for the reigning premiers to enter a third straight finals appearance.

From the Peel line-up that overrun East Fremantle with seven goals to nil in the last quarter last Saturday, the Thunder loses Sam Collins, Jonathon Griffin and Tom Sheridan who have all been named to play with Fremantle on Sunday against Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

But the good news for the Thunder is that Cameron McCarthy, Griffin Logue, Ryan Nyhuis and Josh Deluca could all come back to line-up for Peel on Saturday. All except McCarthy will be eligible to then remain in the side come finals time as well.

Brad Walsh, Corey Morris, Brad McGowan and Jake Dowding are the other players at the Thunder in the mix to come into the team to face South Fremantle at Bendigo Bank Stadium.

Broadcast –
HFM (107.3FM)