Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 12:10 PM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle coach Todd Curley discusses the Bulldogs remarkable performance to come from 32 points to beat East Perth in Round 8 to book in top spot ahead of a final round clash with a Perth team who needs to win to be a chance of playing WAFL finals for the first time since 1997.

QUESTION: You left yourselves a lot of work to do by three quarter-time but that last quarter was something pretty special?
We identified probably two or three things that I thought we could get better at even earlier in the game, we just couldn’t get them all going at once. I thought after quarter-time we were better and then in the third quarter we were better again but didn’t get the reward on the scoreboard. There were a couple of half chances that we missed and that left us open, and we conceded scores the other way. And then in the last quarter, obviously Higgo was huge in the middle and we looked a bit more dangerous forward and kicked straight. It was important.

Q: It started with Higgins getting those clearances directly out of the middle and then your forwards were clunking all their marks, you were laying huge tackles and you were playing ferocious football in that last quarter. Where did it come from?
Getting the ball forward always has to start in the middle. We were pretty badly beaten around the ball in the first quarter, I think we only had two inside 50s so to finish with 44 is a pretty good effort. We thought we fixed a little bit in the second quarter and a little bit more in the third, but we didn’t expect probably to kick eight goals to nothing. But we dint feel that we were that far away and we talk a lot about how we don’t worry about the scoreboard and if you're behind or front, we just want to play the way we want to play and that will take care of itself. I thought our leaders really stood up after half-time especially in the last quarter. Jake Florenca has been super all year and he had a really close attention but was really selfless with the way he was still able to contribute but play different roles for us. We managed to get the ball to Shawry as a leader and he needed to kick the first one, and he did and you could feel the momentum build. We have been a pretty good last quarter team all year so we knew we'd run the game out, but we got a couple early and then the momentum was our way.

Q: What can that do for the belief of the group so close to the finals to know that you can virtually win from any position in a game?
It has been pretty consistent to be honest. In first halves we haven’t kicked huge scores all year bar Round 1 against East Fremantle when we probably had a fair score by halfway. But we've had to fight and grind, and the longer the game has gone hopefully the better we've got. The players have got real confidence in knowing they did the work over the break and they are confident in their teammates. To have Noah Strom, Jason Maskos and Zac Dent out of the team from our back six, I thought they really stood up pretty well. Jarrad Doney was another debutant and he came in, played his role, did alright and played his role forward. We're still quite young but our leaders stood up.

Q: Mason Shaw has been so consistent the whole time you've been here as coach but he really has gone up a gear this year to be in career-best form?
He has been really competing for us in the air and if he can't mark it, he's bringing it to ground. To be honest I don’t care at all about the Bernie Naylor and I'm sure for him it might be nice to look back on, it wouldn’t be his focus either. We're looking to score collectively and he was the one to get on the end of a few and play a bit deeper today, but Ben Rioli sneaked down as well to kick his first goal and we kicked straight. We got the ball in better areas as well which makes it a bit easier to kick straight as well.

Q: You mentioned the debutant Jarrad Doney, that's a game he won't ever forget?
I wouldn’t have thought so. He's a great kid and had some real injury problems in the past, but he has probably spent most of the summer in the rehab group to be honest. He just continued to build and I love the way he plays his footy and hopefully he enjoyed that because we enjoyed watching him play.

Q:  You have four players to try to work back in either next week or for the finals but it looks like you got through the game unscathed?
Touchwood I think we did and that's the first time for a while to be honest. It was pleasing and obviously we had Luffy come back in along with Higgo, and hopefully Noah Strom should be right in a couple of weeks and Zac Dent is moving in the right direction. Jase Maskos probably should be OK for next week I would say but we've taken no risk all the way through and had the confidence to go with the guys that have been fit. It's been really good.

Q: Really interesting game now. You've just had a bye so no need to rest anyone, there are plenty of spots in the team to play for and I'm sure you aren’t interested in Perth's fairytale story of trying to play finals?
It's just another opportunity for us. We've only just come off the bye so whoever's fit and available will play. We have won seven now and it's a great chance for us to win again. The fairytale is for Perth to get in but we'll be doing everything we can to win the game.