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Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 10:27 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle blew the West Coast Eagles away in the first 20 minutes on Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval before cruising to a 45-point victory.

The Bulldogs knew they had to beat the Eagles at home on Saturday by more than what Claremont defeated Swan Districts at the same time to guarantee second spot, and they quickly went about piling on six goals in the game's opening 17 minutes.

Three of those came from excitement machine Cody Ninyette and that was enough to set up the eventual comfortable 13.17 (95) to 7.8 (50) victory for the Bulldogs.

The result means that South Fremantle now finishes the regular season in second position with a 13-5 record and they actually went remarkably clos to nabbing top spot. 

Had Peel kicked one more goal against Subiaco to win in Mandurah, it would have been the Bulldogs grabbed first position from the Lions and earned a bye in the first week of the finals.

It wasn’t to be, though, and South Fremantle ends up second to now host Claremont in a qualifying final this Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

Cody Ninyette threatened to have the game of his life with four goals to his name inside the first quarter and-a-half, but he was rarely sighted from that point on and finished with just the four majors.

Fellow small forwards Brandon Donaldson and Jesse Motlop both kicked two goals apiece as well meaning it was the little men who combined for eight goals while big men Mason Shaw, Jimmy Miller and Blake Schlensog combined for just two.

Jake Florenca continued his stunning return from a ruptured Achilles with another 28 possessions for South Fremantle while Nick Suban gathered 25 disposals, Jacob Dragovich 23, Tom Blechynden 23, Haiden Schloithe 20 and Zac Strom 18.

South Fremantle's back-line was again superb led by Noah Strom with 21 possessions and 12 marks. Chad Pearson also had 22 disposals and eight marks, and Zac Dent 21 touches and six marks.

Brock Higgins returned in the ruck with 15 touches, four tackles and 39 hit outs with the Bulldogs to now choose between him and Hamish Free for the finals.

It was the most remarkable of starts to the game from South Fremantle with a spectacular opening 20 minutes of the game. With Brock Higgins back in the ruck, he gave his on-ballers first use of the ball who drove the ball quickly and long into attack for their tall forward targets.

They were doing well marking with Mason Shaw and Blake Schlensog kicking a goal each, but it was the dynamic Cody Ninyette who was the star of the show with three goals in those 17 minutes with South Fremantle already up by 38 points.

West Coast didn’t have its first inside-50 entry until the 20-minute mark and the Eagles did close the opening term with the last two goals through Kieran Hug and Ben Johnson.

The Eagles then added another to start the second term courtesy of Harry Sinclair but South Fremantle responded with the next two from Nick Suban and then a fourth to Ninyette.

But West Coast had found a way back into the contest around the ground and got another goal back from Jak Cary to only be trailing South Fremantle by 31 points at the major break.

It remained a competitive contest for most of the second half too with both teams kicking three goals apiece in the third quarter with South Fremantle's lead down to just 27 points by three quarter-time.

The Bulldogs managed the only two goals of the final term, both courtesy of teenager Jesse Motlop, and that saw them win by 45 points and do enough to host the qualifying final against Claremont next Saturday.


SOUTH FREMANTLE            6.3    8.9    11.10    13.17 (95)
WEST COAST EAGLES            2.1    4.2    7.7    7.8 (50)

SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Ninyette 4; Donaldson, Motlop 2; Schloithe, Dragovich, Suban, Shaw, Schlensog.    
Best – N Strom, Florenca, Suban, Pearson, Ninyette, Dent, Dragovich, Donaldson.
WEST COAST EAGLES: Goals – Winder, Watson, Johnson, Sinclair, Hug, Nitschke, Cary.
Best – Brayshaw, Ainsworth, Johnson, Winder, Sinclair.