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Tuesday, June 7, 2022 - 10:00 PM by Chris Pike

It was a spectacular game in front of a big crowd and the contest on the field lived up to the occasion with South Fremantle claiming a two-point thriller in the Fremantle Ports WA Day Derby over East Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

The Bulldogs might have come into the game on their home ground having won the previous 12 derbies, but it was the Sharks on top of the ladder coming into the 2022 edition.

It turned out to be a seesaw affair in front of 6023 people at Fremantle Community Bank Oval as well with the Bulldogs opening up a 16-point lead early in the second quarter.

However, East Fremantle turned things around with the next eight goals and then turning that into a 27-point lead early in the second half. 

It was South Fremantle's turn to swing the momentum back around with the game's next six goals including three of them coming from Caleb Datson. The Bulldogs then held on for the win in a thrilling finish when Cam Eardley sent a set shot wide for the Sharks in the dying seconds. 

South Fremantle went on to win 11.15 (81) to 12.7 (79) and to make it a 13th derby win in succession against their old foes.

Caleb Datson had a stunning burst of three goals in five minutes in the third quarter for South Fremantle to make up the most of his six kicks and four marks for the day.

Brandon Donaldson, Jimmy Miller and Cam McCarthy all kicked two goals each as well for the Bulldogs.

Tom Blechynden amassed 27 possessions to go with seven tackles and seven inside-50 entries for South Fremantle with Brendon Ah Chee adding 27 touches, Jake Florenca 25 and Haiden Schloithe 24 to go with seven tackles.

Toby McQuilkin continued his strong form in defence for the Bulldogs with 20 possessions and three tackles while Hamish Free had 12 touches and 42 hit outs in the ruck and Noah Strom had a terrific battle with Jonathon Marsh at full-back and had eight disposals and eight tackles.

It was an ominous start to the derby with South Fremantle having won the last 12 encounters when Glenn Byron kicked an impressive goal on the run at the four-minute mark to give the Bulldogs the fast start.

Jimmy Miller then marked strongly and kicked truly for South Fremantle, but East Fremantle soon steadied and got on the board courtesy of spearhead Jonathon Marsh.

South Fremantle, though, got a third goal on the quarter-time siren through small forward Brandon Donaldson and that saw the Bulldogs hold a 15-point edge at the first break.

It was all East Fremantle in the second term, however, and the prospect of the Sharks ending their derby drought was a distinct possibility with the momentum they were able to build.

Young forward Reuben McGuire got things rolling before Alex Montauban kicked strongly from 50 to make it a two-point margin. McGuire's second then put the Sharks in front and they weren’t done with yet.

A trademark running goal from 124-game veteran Ryan Lester-Smith then put East Fremantle further in front for the first time in the game. 

Milan Murdock and Blaine Boekhorst helped the lead to 21 points which is where it stayed at half-time with a goal on the siren from Michael Tassone.

The seven goal to one second term had livened up the derby encounters as they rarely have been during South Fremantle's 12-game streak and the Sharks took their lead out to a game high 27 points with Cody Leggett kicking truly to start the second half.

South Fremantle needed to lift and they were up to the challenge lifting their intensity around the contest significantly, helped by the move of usual small forward Manfred Kelly into the middle.

It was a player still eligible to play colts playing in his first derby, Steely Green, who started the Bulldogs' fight back with a goal and two minutes later Cam McCarthy also kicked truly. 

Caleb Datson then had the best five-minute purple patch of his 25-game career kicking three goals in that span with his third putting the Bulldogs back in front after having been 27 points down less than 20 minutes earlier.

McCarthy's second goal of the third quarter then extended South Fremantle's lead but Marsh got one back for the Sharks to keep them within five points at three quarter-time.

Goals were hard to come by in a tense last term but South Fremantle's lead was back out to 12 points at the nine-minute mark after a strong mark and goal to Miller.

Boekhorst kicked his second at the 18-minute mark to keep East Fremantle in touch and then Corey Holmes managed another six minutes later to make it a two-point ball game.

In the end, it was Cam Eardley who had a golden chance to give East Fremantle the lead with a set shot 30m out and on a 45 degree angle.

However, he miscued horrible to send it out on the full and South Fremantle would hold on to win 11.15 (81) to 12.7 (79) to make it 13 consecutive derby victories.

The day started with a colts win for East Fremantle over South Fremantle 11.10 (76) to 7.5 (47).

Harry Elphick kicked three goals for the Bulldogs while Christian Wilson finished with 23 touches, Jordan Rodriguez 19, Seth Connor 17, Chase Bourne 15 and Roan O'Hehir 15.

Then in the reserves match up 12.9 (81) to 5.5 (35) with Ben Rioli kicking three goals and two each to Jarrad Doney, Nathan Spooner and Jack Blechynden.

George Wessels gathered 27 touches, Aiden Hall 25, Doney 23, Jacob Sax 23, Tyson Headland 20 and Solomon James 14 in the ruck to go with 51 hit outs and seven marks.


SOUTH FREMANTLE        3.4    4.8    10.11    11.15 (81)
EAST FREMANTLE        1.1    8.5    10.6    12.7 (79)

SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Datson 3; Donaldson, Miller, McCarthy 2; Byron, Green.
Best – Blechynden, Florenca, Schloithe, Ah Chee, Datson, N Strom, McQuilkin, Free.
EAST FREMANTLE: Goals – Marsh, Boekhorst, McGuire 2; Murdock, Leggett, Lester-Smith, Montauban, Tassone, Holmes.
Best – Murdock, Boekhorst, Jansen, Jupp, Eardley, Bailey, McDonald.