BULLDOGS PREVAIL ON A DAY TO FOREVER TREASURE

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 9:45 AM by Chris Pike

IT will be a day on Sunday no one involved will ever forget with South Fremantle beating Claremont by three points in a remarkable WAFL Grand Final with the Bulldogs celebrating a premiership for the first ever time at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

A crowd of 10,179 turned out for the occasion to pack Fremantle Community Bank Oval and create a brilliant atmosphere with the venue packed to capacity as it hosted a WAFL Grand Final for the first time since 1910.

It was the first time since 1935 that the WAFL Grand Final hadn’t been played at Western Australia's premier venue of either Subiaco Oval or Optus Stadium, and it proved a remarkable success in every measurable way.

The crowd was a sell out, the atmosphere was stunning and the WA Football Commission, South Fremantle Community Bank Oval and others involved all combined to create a carnival like atmosphere to give it a big event feel which had something for everyone.

Then the game itself delivered in spades. The WAFL Grand Final of 2020 will go down as one for the ages and in the end it was huge last quarter goals to South Fremantle key forwards Mason Shaw and Jimmy Miller that sealed the ultimate 6.10 (46) to 6.7 (43) victory.

It is South Fremantle first ever premiership won at Fremantle Community Bank Oval along with the Bulldogs' first flag since 2009 and the 14th overall for the club in the WAFL.

GRAND FINAL PREVIEW V CLAREMONT

PLAYER COLUMN | NICK SUBAN GRAND FINAL

CURLEY COULDN’T BE HAPPIER WITH GRAND FINAL PREPARATION

MAIN HAS BULLDOGS FOCUSED ON PLAYING AT THEIR BEST

BULLDOGS HIT BACK HARD TO BOOK GRAND FINAL SPOT

South Fremantle's midfield had lost its leading ball winner from all season Jake Florenca to a ruptured Achilles in the preliminary final, but Jacob Dragovich stepped up in the Grand Final with 23 possessions, five marks and five tackles.

Captain Dylan Main was huge as well with 20 disposals, five marks, five tackles and five tackles while Haiden Schloithe battled hard desperate to become a premiership player with 18 disposals and seven tackles.

Zac Strom must have gone close to a Simpson Medal for his game made up of 16 possessions, six marks and two goals while ruckman Brock Higgins once again did a power of work with 15 disposals, 33 hit outs and eight tackles.

Jimmy Miller threatened to tear the game open with 15 touches and four marks but couldn’t kick straight until when it mattered the most with what turned out to be the premiership sealer.

Noah Strom did a strong job down back on Anton Hamp while Ben Rioli provided some good run with 12 possessions and Blayne Wilson was important with 12 disposals and seven marks.

Nick Suban is now a four-time WAFL premiership player with his medal going with his one with Claremont from 2012 and two at Peel Thunder in 2016 and 2017.

The first goal of the Grand Final went South Fremantle's way thanks to a straight kick from Zac Strom and it would take more than 10 minutes for the only other goal of the opening term which went to Claremont courtesy of second semi-final hero Alec Waterman.

Brandon Donaldson put South Fremantle back on top to start the second quarter with a goal before Waterman added his second. The Bulldogs peppered the goals the rest of the half but couldn’t add another goal and went into half-time leading by just the three points.

South Fremantle threatened to blow the game open to start the second half with a second goal to Zac Strom and then a clever snap from a tight angle by captain Dylan Main after he marked strongly. 

But Claremont wouldn’t be going away and suddenly goals to Callan England and Ben Edwards had them close again, and then Waterman kicked his third of the Grand Final to put the Tigers on top by two points at three quarter-time.

The stage was set for a remarkable last quarter and that's certainly the way it would pan out in front of an atmosphere you can only generate on such a suburban ground.

Mason Shaw showed a cool head to steady and kick around his body for his first goal in the finals in his 100th WAFL game to put South Fremantle back in front and then fellow key forward Jimmy Miller took yet another big mark.

This time he did go back to kick truly and the lead was out to nine points. Claremont had one last crack with a quick goal to Declan Hardisty but the Tigers didn’t have time for another and it would be South Fremantle's premiership to celebrate with the 6.10 (46) to 6.7 (43) victory.

OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – GRAND FINAL

SOUTH FREMANTLE        1.1    2.7    4.10    6.10 (46)
CLAREMONT            1.1    2.4    5.6    6.7 (43)

SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Z Strom 2; Miller, Shaw, Main, Donaldson.
Best – Z Strom, Higgins, Dragovich, Main, Schloithe, Miller, Blechynden.
CLAREMONT: Goals – Waterman 3; D Hardisty, Edwards, England.
Best – Bolton, J Hardisty, Rogers, Mountford, Waterman, Busher, Morgan.

SIMPSON MEDAL: Jye Bolton (Claremont)