Bulldogs go down in Round 1 to reigning premiers

Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 1:32 PM

SOUTH Fremantle gave it a big shake in the first half against Claremont on Saturday at Claremont Oval to open the WAFL season, but in the end were overrun by the reigning premiers going down by 48 points.

The Bulldogs played an outstanding first half despite missing a bevy of key players coming into the Round 1 contest.

South Fremantle levelled up scores just before the half-time break when Kingsley Smith goaled at the 31-minute mark of the second quarter, but things started to go wrong early in the third term.

Last year's Bernie Naylor Medallist Ben Saunders, who had kicked two impressive goals in the first half, went down with a suspected fractured collarbone and Claremont went on to kick 13 goals to five in the second half to win 20.12 (132) to 12.12 (84) on the same day they unfurled their premiership flag from 2012.

South Fremantle might not have quite been able to keep with Claremont in the second half, but the Bulldogs never stopped fighting in the last quarter.

At several stages, the Tigers looked set to run away with a 10-plus goal win but the young Bulldogs kept fighting and booted four last quarter goals against the run of play.

It was an extremely youthful South Fremantle line-up with Sean Lynch, Warrick Andreoli, Smith and Tom Vandeleur all making their league debuts.

With Haiden Schloithe, Anthony Collica, Mitch Carter, Adam McIntosh, Alistair Gillespie, Jason Maskos, Dylan Ross and Adam Doughty all having played 22 or less league games coming into the match as well.

That is more than half the side that was incredibly young with South Fremantle without Craig White, Adam Guglielmana, John Sgherza, Brendon Gulley, Nick Borovac, Ashton Hams, Shaun Bewick and Adam Carter from what could be considered the best 22 coming into 2013.

Sean Tighe was South Fremantle's best right throughout the game doing a manful job in the ruck up against an AFL premiership ruckman in Mark Seaby and two-time WAFL premiership ruckman Mitch Andrews.

Tighe finished the game with 22 possessions, 22 hit outs and two goals as he continued on from last year where he emerged as one of the best ruckmen in the competition in his first season in the WAFL.

South Fremantle also had plenty of good ball winners through the middle with captain Ryan Cook working hard to gather 24 possessions to go with eight marks and seven entries inside-50.

Veteran Kris Miller picked up 23 touches as well as did Collica who was coming off an interrupted pre-season but performed well.

Mitch Banner was watched closely by Byron Schammer all afternoon, but the former Port Adelaide midfielder fought through the tag to finish with 19 possessions and got forward to kick three goals.

Smith also kicked two goals on debut with Saunders adding two before he went off injured.

Gillespie showed good signs at centre half-forward giving South Fremantle that leading target and he finished with 13 possessions, five marks and a goal.

The young defence was under-siege all day but Doughty, Vandeleur, McIntosh, Andrew McCarrey and Ross held it down the best they can, while Schloithe had a good battle all day long with Ian Richardson.

Earlier, South Fremantle's reserves went down to Claremont by 51 points but there were some strong performers to push up for league consideration in two week's time against Perth.

Myles Bolger and Kaiden Matera kicked two goals each while Brendan Verrier gathered 18 possessions, Joseph Pantano 15, Rhys D'Alton 15, Zachary Strom 14 and Tim Kelly 14.

The colts also started the day narrowly going down to the colts by two points.

Jermaine Lewis kicked three goals for the Bulldogs with Cameron McCarthy adding two. Ben Sokol picked up 20 possessions, Dylan Main 19 and Brad McPhail 17. 

SOUTH FREMANTLE                        3.3          7.6          8.9          12.12     (84)

CLAREMONT                                      3.5          7.6          14.10     20.12     (132)

SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Banner 3; Smith, Saunders, Tighe 2; Winter, Mugambwa, Gillespie.

Best: Tighe, Cook, Miller, Collica, Smith, McIntosh, Schloithe.

CLAREMONT – Goals: McGovern 4; Hamp, Murphy 3; Richardson, Medhurst 2; Blackwell, Bradshaw, Browne, Winmar, Schammer.

Best: Browne, McGovern, Murphy, Schammer, Davies, Foster.

By Chris Pike