Main has Bulldogs focused on playing at their best

Friday, October 2, 2020 - 11:20 PM by Chris Pike

THERE is the chance for something special to celebrate a WAFL premiership for South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday, but captain Dylan Main is firmly focused on getting the Bulldogs just to play at their best.

South Fremantle has the rare chance a win a premiership on home soil at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday afternoon with the 2020 WAFL Grand Final against Claremont played there, but there's no complacency amongst the Bulldogs just because of that.

Part of the reason for that is the fact that just two weeks ago in the second semi-final at the very same venue Claremont beat South Fremantle by 47 points to book their Grand Final spot and force South Fremantle into a preliminary final after finishing the home and away season on top of the ladder.

But the Bulldogs responded well in last week's preliminary final to beat West Perth including a run of six consecutive goals either side of half-time to book in a place in the Grand Final.

While it's hard to ignore the prospect of celebrating a premiership victory on your home ground with a win on Sunday, Main actually isn’t expecting a home ground advantage especially considering the Tigers won over the Bulldogs at the same ground just two weeks ago.

Main also expects a pretty even split amongst the sold out crowd of just over 10,000 people so the Bulldogs captain knows nothing but their best performance from the 22 players on the field will allow them to achieve the dream of a premiership on home turf.

"We are kind of expecting the crowd to be 50-50 with Claremont and South supporters after tickets sold out straightaway and Claremont has obviously known they have been in it for the last couple of weeks," Main said. 

"I don’t know if it's too much of an advantage, obviously we train and play here week in, week out but most WAFL grounds around the competition are pretty similar apart from a couple that are a bit wider. 

"But Claremont showed a couple of weeks ago that they can play here so I don’t think any advantage comes with it. It's finals footy and anything can happen so we just have to bring our best game."

BULLDOGS HIT BACK HARD TO BOOK GRAND FINAL SPOT

There is not a single South Fremantle player who will be out there on Sunday that was there when the Bulldogs last won a WAFL premiership in 2009.

However, 15 of the team from last year's Grand Final team that lost to Subiaco by 96 points at Optus Stadium will be out there on Sunday and then there is Nick Suban who is already a triple WAFL premiership player after a flag with Claremont in 2012, and then at Peel Thunder in 2016 and 2017.

But the WAFL has been dominated by Subiaco in recent years with the Lions winning premierships in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019 on top of claiming minor premierships every year between 2015-19 and playing in each of the past six Grand Finals.

So either way it's going to be a new team on the premiership trophy come Sunday night with Claremont hunting a first triumph since 2012 and South Fremantle its first flag since 2009.

Main admits to a feeling of relief to reach the Grand Final and not bow out in what would have been a fourth losing preliminary final in five years last week, but now the focus is on the prize.

"It's a bit relieving after Subi have had such a lock on one of the spots," Main said.

"But there's going to be a different winner this year which is exciting for the WAFL competition, and it's our second year here in-a-row. Hopefully we can get a different result now than last year."

Main has the chance now to join an impressive list of South Fremantle premiership captains on Sunday that includes Toby McGrath, David Gault, Jon Dorotich, Peter Worsfold, Noel Carter, Hassa Mann, Frank Treasure, Len Crabbe, Steve Marsh, Harry Carbon, Clive Lewington, Ross Hutchinson, Norm McIntosh and Frank Collins.

He isn’t too much getting caught up in marking himself in history and instead focused on embracing the occasion, and doing everything he can to help make sure the Bulldogs play as they did in the preliminary final and not the second semi-final.

"It's an exciting week and we are just embracing it every way we can and we can't wait for Sunday to come," he said.

"We obviously weren’t at our best that day and Claremont played exceptionally well, which we are expecting them to do again on Sunday. 

"For us we bounced back last week and we are going to try and keep it as similar as possible last week. We are keeping things as normal as possible and then hopefully all the boys can bring their A-game and we can bring it up to Claremont."

Looking back on last Sunday's preliminary final win against West Perth, while South Fremantle opened up a gap by kicking six unanswered goals either side of half-time, it was the four-quarter performance in response to the loss to Claremont that Main was most pleased with.

"I don’t necessarily think it was so much the third quarter, it was the whole game that we played a lot better," Main said.

"It was just an arm-wrestle early on and West Perth were up for the fight, they have been good all season so we knew it would take if not until the third quarter or the last until we could possibly crack them open. 

"We thought we were pretty good from the first quarter but it was just an arm-wrestle that managed to break open in the third. The couple of weeks before that had been disappointing without our best performances, but we got back to how we played and we showed that on the weekend."

As is quite often the case, there is a heartbreak story from the preliminary final ahead of the Grand Final at South Fremantle just like there was 12 months ago when the emerging Josh Collard ruptured his ACL and now is yet to still make his return.

And this time it was gun midfielder Jake Florenca who has had such a brilliant season and it wouldn’t surprise to see him win the WJ Hughes Medal for 2020. But he won't be there on Sunday in the Grand Final after rupturing his Achilles in the preliminary final.

Everyone at South Fremantle is feeling for Florenca but Main couldn’t but be impressed with how upbeat he has remained.

"It sucks. Jake is a terrific fella, he's still a young guy and he has had a great season driving our midfield this year," Main said.

"He missed a couple of weeks ago with a slight knee injury and then came back, and obviously hurt himself and ruptured his Achilles. 

"That's obviously disappointing but he has been down at the club still this week and has been real positive about it all. Everyone is obviously disappointed about it but he has still supported us this week."