Bulldogs fall short of Lions in Reserves Grand Final

Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 7:17 PM by Chris Pike
SOUTH Fremantle stormed back in the third quarter to get within five points but couldn’t keep it going to end up losing the last ever WAFL Reserves Grand Final to Subiaco by 19 points at Subiaco Oval on Sunday.
South Fremantle came into the game having been the standout team in the reserves for 2017 finishing as minor premiers and then winning straight through to the Grand Final having beaten Subiaco in the second semi-final.
Both teams then got some players back for the Reserves Grand Final after their league outfits played off in the league preliminary final last Sunday setting the stage for a tremendous contest.
South Fremantle started strongly with three of the opening four goals, but Subiaco soon worked on top as the rain began to fall. The Lions kicked 10 of the next 13 goals to lead by 29 points at the 12-minute mark of the third term.
The Bulldogs then made a charge with four quick goals to close the third term, but the Lions steadied in the last quarter with the only two goals to win 13.6 (84) to 10.5 (65).
The win is Subiaco's first reserves premiership since 2007 while South Fremantle missed the chance for a third reserves flag in the past five years in what was the first year in charge for coach Paul Litherland.
Jake Florenca was terrific for South Fremantle finishing with three goals, 12 tackles and 24 possessions.
Captain Jarrod Parry fought valiantly for the Bulldogs as well with 25 disposals, 10 tackles, six inside 50s and two goals.
Jacob Dragovich also collected 28 disposals for South Fremantle, Chad Pearson 20, Zac Strom 18 (17 hit outs), Tom Vandeleur 16, Matthew Parker 16, Kyle Russell 16 and Travis Abbott 16.
Subiaco's Dylan Clarke was presented with the Merv McIntosh Medal after a best on ground performance. The left-footed half-forward kicked five goals for the Grand Final to go with 23 possessions and five tackles.
Nick Menegola kicked two goals for the Lions from just three kicks with former South Fremantle player Braden Fimmano also kicking two. Another ex-Bulldog Bailey Matera delivered a strong performance against his old side with 20 possessions and a goal.
Greg Clark had reason to feel hard done by after missing selection in Subiaco's league side for later in the day but he was terrific with 20 possessions and 16 tackles to at least leave the day with a premiership medal.
Adam Creeper had a strong game too in the ruck for the Lions with 16 disposals, five tackles, 20 hit outs and a goal.
James Garcia racked up 24 possessions for Subiaco to go with six tackles and seven inside-50 entries.
South Fremantle made a good start to the Grand Final with a goal inside two minutes to Jarrod Parry. Subiaco responded soon after through Dylan Clarke but the Bulldogs were looking good early with the next two goals from Matthew Parker and Jake Florenca.
Two goals without the ball returning to the middle for Nick Menegola got Subiaco back within three points before they took the lead with a goal to Brayden Ainsworth and a second to Clarke.
South Fremantle cut its deficit to just three points on quarter-time with Mitch Dzelebdzic kicking truly after the siren.
Conditions were getting tougher during the second quarter with the rain pelting down with Subiaco kicking away early with goals to former South Fremantle pair Bailey Matera and Braden Fimmano.
The Bulldogs got back within the contest with a couple of quick goals to Jesse Musika and Jake Florenca, but again the Lions steadied with a second to Fimmano and one to big man Adam Creeper to lead by 17 points at half-time. 
Subiaco threatened to run right away with the game midway through the third term after two more goals to Clarke to stretch the lead to a game-high 29 points.
But South Fremantle wouldn’t go away and had a strong season in 2017 that they didn’t want to let slip without giving it a real crack. Goals to Brandon Donaldson, Daniel Cabassi, Parry and Florenca in the space of nine minutes suddenly made it a five-point game at three quarter-time.
However, the Bulldogs wouldn’t score in the last quarter with Subiaco kicking the only two goals thanks to Clarke with his fifth and Ray Daniels to secure the 19-point victory having come from finishing third at the end of the home and away season.
SOUTH FREMANTLE 4.4 6.4 10.5 10.5 (65)
SUBIACO 5.1 9.3 11.4 13.6 (84)
SOUTH FREMANTLE Goals: Florenca 3; Parry 2; Donaldson, Parker, Cabassi, Dzelebdzic, Musika.
Best: Florenca, Parry, Dragovich, Z Strom, Pearson, Abbott.
SUBIACO Goals: Clarke 5; Fimmano, Menegola 2; Daniels, Matera, Ainsworth, Creeper.
Best: Clarke, Clark, Garcia, Matera, Creeper, Fimmano, Ainsworth.
MERV McINTOSH MEDAL: Dylan Clarke (Subiaco)