Dragovich thriving with Bulldogs on increased chances

Friday, June 21, 2019 - 7:13 PM by Chris Pike

ONE South Fremantle player thriving on the increased opportunities in 2019 is Jacob Dragovich and the Bulldogs' leading ball winner this season is even happier with the way the team is performing heading into Saturday's top-of-the-table clash with Subiaco.

Dragovich came through the ranks impressively at colts level with South Fremantle including winning the fairest and best award in 2013 and finishing as runner-up in 2014 so it was always going to be a natural progression for him to become a league footballer.

And over the last four years in a variety of different roles, Dragovich has played some good league football for South Fremantle to the point where coming into 2019 he had 62 games already under his belt.

So he was ready to go to the next level with his football and that just coincided with the increased opportunities that would open up to be a permanent midfielder with the departures of the likes of Shane Hockey, Ryan Cook, Ashton Hams and now Marlion Pickett as well.

That meant that over pre-season Dragovich was locked away in plans to be a regular on-baller for South Fremantle in 2019 and he couldn’t have possibly done a better job at making the most of the chances that have come his way. 

Dragovich's numbers this season have been outstanding over the opening nine games with him averaging 27.0 disposals including a best of 41 in Round 2 against Perth. 

He also had 32 in Round 4 against East Fremantle while his consistency has been superb with him having no less than 20 possessions in any game so far this year.

While Dragovich deserves to be happy with his own season so far, he's more focused on the way the team is going and South Fremantle couldn’t be travelling any better right now.

Considering the players that departed in the off-season and with Pickett having now joined them and with Haiden Schloithe, Brandon Donaldson, Adam McIntosh, Caleb Datson, Regan Spooner, Dylan Main, Shaun Bewick and Blayne Wilson having all missed at least one game, things haven’t all gone to plan.

But despite that, South Fremantle comes into Saturday's clash with Subiaco on a seven-game winning streak and an 8-1 record with that lone loss being by just three points to Perth in a game that easily could have gone the way of the Bulldogs.

South Fremantle has already beaten Subiaco earlier this season being the only side to defeat them since the 2017 Grand Final.

Dragovich and the Bulldogs take some confidence from that heading into this Saturday's game at Fremantle Community Bank Oval while being fully aware of how tough it will be to get over the Lions for a second time.

"It was a great feeling to beat them last time we played them. They have been the benchmark for so long and to come out and beat them on their home ground was really good obviously," Dragovich said on 91.3 SportFM.

"They did pose a few fightbacks at us during the game but we managed to hold them off and held on to a handy lead for most of the day. That just gives us belief that when we play them again now and even moving forward later in the year in the finals series that we might be able to do it again."

As for his own form, Dragovich is thriving on the opportunity to be spending the majority of his time playing permanently in the midfield where his in-and-under ball winning abilities are being fully utilised.

He's enjoying the chance to show off what his greatest strengths are.

"I'm definitely spending a lot more minutes in the midfield this year with Cooky and Hockey leaving along with some of those other guys," he said. 

"I've always felt I was best suited to being an inside mid and now I'm getting that chance so I want to relish that and take it week by week, and keep playing my role like I have been and hopefully look for bigger things at the end of the year in the finals."

Dragovich acknowledges that there was plenty of questions needed to be answered surrounding South Fremantle coming into 2019 with the players who have departed and coming off losing in three successive preliminary finals.

But what was waiting was a group of hungry players ready to step up like Dragovich and he couldn’t be happier with the way things are tracking coming into Round 11.

"There obviously was a big question mark around our team going into this year, but I think we've just got a lot of good youth coming up and that's showing," he said.

"We are playing a pretty exciting brand of footy and we've only lost one game, and in that one game we were pretty unlucky when we peppered the goals in the last quarter against Perth and couldn’t quite get a major.

"It's just very exciting being down at the club at the moment and there's such a good feeling. I'm really exciting about how things are going this season."

Another player thriving on having the forward-line centred around him in 2019 is Mason Shaw.

South Fremantle's forward-line had functioned well in recent years with Shaw down there along with the likes of Ben Saunders, Cory Dell'Olio, Matthew Parker and company.

But Shaw is now proving more than capable of being the main focal point and he's now kicked 29 goals for the season to be the runaway Bernie Naylor Medal leader.

Dragovich loves knowing that when he breaks out of the middle, he's got Shaw to kick to as a target.

"I think Mason's in a similar boat to what I was last year where he had so many other people in the forward-line with him capable of kicking a bag of goals that it made it hard for himself to standout too much," Dragovich said.

"But he's really relishing his opportunities this year and when you look up and see him down there to kick to, he's a pretty good target. All the boys are really happy that he's the one coming out for us to kick to."