Round 9 Preview v Perth

Friday, September 11, 2020 - 2:25 PM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle heads to Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park on Saturday with the opportunity of completing an undefeated WAFL season but it will be a desperate Perth opponent trying to deny the Bulldogs that.

It has been a remarkable performance to date from South Fremantle to have won all seven matches to date in this shortened Optus WAFL Premiership Season following the COVID-19 enforced break.

Things got underway in scintillating fashion with a 95-point hammering of East Fremantle before two tight wins against West Perth Claremont before a statement 50-point victory against Subiaco.

The Bulldogs kept winning coming from behind against Swan Districts and then after the Round 6 bye, beat Peel in Mandurah and then last Saturday won in the most scorching ways kicking the game's last nine goals to come from 32 points down and defeat East Perth by 22 points.

So now South Fremantle heads to Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park on Saturday with the rare chance of going through the entire season undefeated. 

The Bulldogs have already guaranteed the minor premiership and hosting the second semi-final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval next Sunday, but there is plenty of spots in the team to play for, there's no need for a rest having just had a bye and creating history is also now there for the taking.

Then there's the added aspect of the game with the opponents. Perth has not played finals in the WAFL since 1997 and the only way that will still be possible for the Demons in 2020 is by beating South Fremantle on Saturday.




With South Fremantle looking to win to go through the season undefeated in a rare feat heading into hosting the second semi-final and with spots in the team hard to come by as well, there'll be no let up from the Bulldogs.

And given South Fremantle just had the bye two weeks ago, there's not going to be any need for resting players and there's no sign of the Bulldogs feeling charitable to help Perth achieve their fairytale first finals appearance since 1997.

The two teams have also developed a bit of a rivalry in recent times too which would heighten the sense that South Fremantle won't be interested in handing anything Perth's way.

While South Fremantle reached last year's WAFL Grand Final and had played in three preliminary finals prior to that with Perth continuing its finals drought, the Demons have actually won three of the last four meetings between the sides.

That included two wins by a combined nine points in 2019 so South Fremantle actually hasn’t beaten Perth now in more than two years and that was a 78-point win back in Round 20, 2018 at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

South Fremantle's last win at Mineral Resources Park was by 10 goals back in Round 8, 2017.

And now coming into this final round of the season, Perth has no choice to win the game to be any hope of that finals drought not stretching to 23 years.

The Demons haven’t played finals since 1997 but for most of 2020 it has looked like happening after they won their opening three matches against Peel Thunder, East Perth and East Fremantle.

And now over the last month, Perth did beat Claremont in an impressive road performance but either side has lost to West Perth, Subiaco and Swan Districts to now hold a 4-3 record and be on the outside of the top four looking in.

Even with a win over South Fremantle, Perth will also need West Perth to beat Subiaco on Saturday so their destiny is no longer in their own hands. But all the Demons can worry about is take care of what they can and trying to beat the Bulldogs for a third straight time.

The start to the game could be fascinating and it has been a weakness of South Fremantle so far. Remarkably over the first seven games, the Bulldogs have kicked a total of 11.26 in first quarters but then 34.11 in fourth terms.

They are far and away the best fourth quarter team in the WAFL so for Perth to be any hope, they will need to start well and be well on top by three quarter-time judging by trends so far.

South Fremantle coach Todd Curley certainly isn’t interested in his team not putting everything into this game as they have the other seven so far this season ahead of the finals beginning next week.

"It's just another opportunity for us. We've only just come off the bye so whoever's fit and available will play," Curley said. 

"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."

South Fremantle will make the two changes to its side from the one that beat East Perth with Travis Abbott back to provide a forward target with Jason Maskos back to strengthen the defence.

Kye Barker and Andrew Haydon are the two players to make way while Noah Strom and Zac Dent are still to return for the Bulldogs.

Perth has made just the one change from its team that lost to Swan Districts last Saturday with 102-game ruckman Christian Eyres returning at the expense of Jacob Payne who had just seven possessions last week.