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Bulldogs fight hard but lose preliminary final to Lions

Monday, September 18, 2017 - 2:54 PM by Chris Pike
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SOUTH Fremantle battled hard but ultimately came up 32 points short of Subiaco in Sunday's WAFL preliminary final at Leederville Oval.
 
Both the Lions and Bulldogs had lost to Peel Thunder in the opening two weeks of the AHG WAFL Finals Series meaning there was only room for one of the top two teams from the home and away season in the Grand Final for 2017.
 
South Fremantle made a terrific start to the preliminary final with the opening three goals before Subiaco steadied to kick eight of the last 10 goals of the first half to head into half-time with a 22-point advantage.
 
The Lions then kicked the first two goals of the second half and despite a brief flurry from the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter, Subiaco pulled away to end up winning 14.14 (98) to 10.6 (66).
 
The victory sees Subiaco advance to the Grand Final while the season is over for South Fremantle following a second straight second place finish in the home and away season, and making consecutive preliminary finals.
 
Subiaco will play in its fourth successive WAFL Grand Final having won premierships in 2014 and 2015 before losing to Peel Thunder in 2016. The Lions now get the chance for revenge against the Thunder this Sunday at Domain Stadium.
 
It was a tough loss for South Fremantle to take in its second straight preliminary final but it wasn’t without some standout individual performances.
 
There was no better Bulldogs performer on the day than Marlion Pickett who did everything possible to try and inspire South Fremantle into the Grand Final. He finished the game with 25 possessions, 12 marks, seven hit outs, five inside-50 entries and four tackles playing mostly in defence but then playing in the ruck for the last quarter.
 
Sandover Medal fancy Haiden Schloithe did his chances of returning to the AFL system either with a strong showing made up of 27 possessions, six marks, four tackles and a goal.
 
Steven Edwards again gave good run out of defence for the Bulldogs with 22 disposals and six marks while Shaun Bewick was courageous down back ending up with 18 possessions and eight marks.
 
Adam McIntosh also did well holding former teammate Ben Sokol to one goal and four kicks while having 12 disposals and six marks himself. Blayne Wilson also had 18 touches and seven marks.
 
Shane Hockey battled hard inside for the Bulldogs finishing with 20 possessions and 12 tackles while captain Ryan Cook worked through the tag of Greg Clark to have 20 touches and 10 marks.
 
Ashton Hams had a good day too for South Fremantle with 19 disposals, eight marks, four inside 50s and a goal. Jarrod Garlett, Dylan Main and Matthew Parker all had good moments with their 16 possessions.
 
Cory Dell'Olio took his chances up forward kicking three goals with Mason Shaw chipping in with two both in the third quarter.
 
South Fremantle was down a man from early in the second quarter when the returning Jacob Dragovich was off with concussion. He had nine possessions in the opening term on a wing.
 
South Fremantle came out of the blocks an inspired outfit with their pressure around the contest and on Subiaco enormous to open the game. 
 
That ended up resulting in goals to Cory Dell'Olio, Haiden Schloithe and Ashton Hams in the opening 11 minutes with the Bulldogs putting the onus right back on the Lions to respond.
 
Subiaco did start to even things up around the ball and kicked their first goal of the preliminary final thanks to little man Liam Baker.
 
Baker also added a second for the Lions but South Fremantle got a steadier after the quarter-time siren thanks to Blaine Johnson.
 
But Subiaco started the second term with all the momentum and after goals to Brad Stevenson, Kyle Halligan, Liam Ryan and Scott Hancock, suddenly the Lions were out to a 15-point lead 12 minutes into the second term.
 
Ryan's effort was remarkable as he worked back to force a contest in the air against his opponent Jason Maskos just on the attacking side of the wing. He then ran onto the ball and ran 70m all the way into an open goal.
 
Dell'Olio did get an important one for South Fremantle to stay in touch but the Lions finished the half with Aaron Heal kicking his first goal of the season and then Ryan adding his second to stretch the lead to 22 points.
 

Subiaco's lead appeared to grow to match-winning levels to start the third quarter with Stevenson kicking his second goal and Baker a third with the advantage growing to 34 points.
 
South Fremantle managed a couple of goals back, both through Mason Shaw, but when Stevenson kicked a third after marking strongly shortly before three quarter-time, the Lions were in control by 28 points.
 
The game again appeared over a minute into the last term with a goal for Subiaco to Halligan, but South Fremantle had one last big run left with its season on the line.
 
A clever snap from Dell'Olio for his third before Tim Kelly nailed a set shot and Steven Edwards goals after a 50m penalty saw the Bulldogs kick three goals in seven minutes to be just 16 points down.
 
But Subiaco would steady and kicked the last two goals through Max Walters and Ben Sokol to end up winning by 32 points and advance to a fourth successive Grand Final.
 
SOUTH FREMANTLE 4.3 5.3 7.5 10.6 (66)
SUBIACO 2.5 8.7 11.9 14.14 (98)
 
SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Dell'Olio 3; Shaw 2; Hams, Johnson, Edwards, Kelly, Schloithe.
Best: Pickett, Schloithe, Cook, Bewick, Edwards, McIntosh, Hockey.
SUBIACO – Goals: Baker, Stevenson 3; Halligan, Ryan 2; Walters, Hancock, Sokol, Heal.
Best: Delahunty, Ryan, Cockie, Litherland, Kitchin, Stevenson, Baker, Twomey.