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Friday, June 3, 2022 - 1:33 PM by Chris Pike

THE biggest day on the WAFL calendar hits this Monday with South Fremantle hosting East Fremantle in the 2022 edition of the Fremantle Ports WA Day Derby at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

South Fremantle will be attempting to win a 13th consecutive Fremantle Derby against East Fremantle when the Bulldogs host the traditional clash at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, but it’s the Sharks that come into Monday’s game on top of the WAFL ladder.

East Fremantle has now won its last five matches this season including beating Subiaco last Saturday at the WACA Ground to come into Monday’s derby on top of the ladder with a 5-1 record.

South Fremantle sits in fifth position at 3-3 and having lost to Swan Districts last Saturday, but the Bulldogs have played in the last three WAFL Grand Finals, finished top two in the last six seasons and have dominated East Fremantle in recent times.

South Fremantle has won the last 12 derbies overall against East Fremantle by an average of 69.7 points. That has included two wins over 100 points and three more by margins in the 90’s so it has been quite the period of dominance for the Bulldogs.

That has included the Bulldogs winning the past four WA Day Derbies as well by an average of 66.5 points.

East Fremantle’s last derby win was way back on WA Day in 2016 when the Sharks beat South Fremantle by 39 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

In the period since then, South Fremantle has won all 12 clashes between the two arch-rivals on top of at least reaching a preliminary final in every season since while East Fremantle hasn’t won a derby nor reached the finals.

However, this looks to be the most anticipated Fremantle Derby in some time with East Fremantle on its first five-game winning streak since they won six in-a-row on the way to reaching a preliminary final in 2014.

Since then, the Sharks have been on two separate losing streaks of 12, and another of 14, but this looks to be an East Fremantle team ready to make its mark on the competition in 2022 even though they lost yet another player to the AFL mid-week when ruckman Brynn Teakle joined Port Adelaide.

East Fremantle not only sits on top of the ladder but they are ranked the best attacking team in the competition scoring 98.7 points a game. South Fremantle are also the best defence after six rounds conceding just the 57.8 points.

East Fremantle has been the second best starting team this season ranked second in first quarters along with third in second terms, and second in third quarters. However, they haven’t been as good finishing out games, ranked eighth in fourth quarters.

South Fremantle, meanwhile, is ranked fifth in first terms, fourth in both second and third quarters, and then third in fourth stanzas having outscored their opponents by 33 points so far.

South Fremantle comes into Monday’s derby after losing to Swan Districts at Bassendean last season and spearhead Mason Shaw is looking for some specific improvements up against the Sharks.

“They played really well and we always seem to have close games against them, and have done in the last couple of years but we probably didn’t come with the right attitude and they got the jump on us early,” Shaw told 91.3 SportFM.

“That was a bit of a letdown and then probably our ball skills weren’t up to scratch and they were probably two big areas that went the way of a tough loss for us on the weekend.”

Shaw is now preparing to play in what will be his sixth WA Derby. His first was back in 2016 in what was South Fremantle's last loss on the occasion and he's been part of the wins since in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021.

With his career having now seen him play 127 games, kick 282 goals and be vice-captain of a premiership team and win a Bernie Naylor Medal, there's not much for Shaw to still achieve but playing on WA Day is always a special moment.

"It’s huge. It’s obviously an exciting game for everyone involved and the history of it obviously goes back a very long way," Shaw said. 

"We are always pretty privileged to play on WA Day and we get good crowds especially when both teams are going well. It’s obviously exciting and it’s something that every player plays for one of the two teams I’m sure looks forward to every year."

There has been some big derby margins in favour of South Fremantle in recent years, but Shaw is fully aware that the Bulldogs are going to need to be at their best to come away with a 13th consecutive win against the Sharks on Monday.

"They’re flying at the moment, the Sharks, and we’re obviously fully aware that they are going to come out and put in a strong performance," Shaw said. 

"We know that any team is tough in this competition especially one sitting on top of the table so we’re going to have to sharply improve to come up against them on Monday. 

"We’ll hopefully put some things into practice at training and hopefully we can start a bit better, and stay in the game from the start. We’ll be focused on the things that we can improve and keep trying to build on that chemistry and hopefully improve our performances."