A TREMENDOUS burst in the third quarter after the rain has propelled South Fremantle to an impressive 21-point preliminary final win on Sunday against West Perth at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
The Bulldogs and Falcons locked horns for the second time in three years in a preliminary final down at the port, and once again an upset was on the cards with West Perth going nine points up during the second quarter.
But South Fremantle responded with the last two goals of the first half and then kicked the first four of the second half after rain had poured down during the interval which was enough to set up the eventual 11.5 (71) to 7.8 (50) victory.
South Fremantle now advances to play Claremont in next Sunday's Grand Final to also be held on their home deck of Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Haiden Schloithe was at his brilliant best for South Fremantle with 24 possessions, 12 tackles and two goals with Zac Strom also kicking two goals while Bulldogs debutant Cody Ninyette kicked one and set up a couple of others in an impressive showing from the ex-Demon.
Brock Higgins was dominant in the ruck with 11 possessions and 46 hit outs too while Jake Florenca had 21 disposals, Dylan Main 21, Zac Dent 20, Chad Pearson 18, Kade Stewart 15 and Ben Rioli 15.
Shane Nelson amassed 35 possessions for West Perth while captain Aaron Black racked up 27 disposals, Liam Tedesco 18, Connor West 16 and Zac Guadagnin 15.
Mark Hamilton was brilliant defensively on Mason Shaw while Keegan Knott kicked three goals and Tyler Keitel two.
South Fremantle got the first goal of the preliminary final thanks to newfound wingman Zac Strom but West Perth kicked an immediate reply courtesy of spearhead Tyler Keitel.
Some terrific pressure saw South Fremantle's forwards turn it over soon after and then it was Strom who found captain Dylan Main inside-50 as he strolled into the open goal and the Bulldogs led by three points at the first change.
West Perth took up the momentum to start the second term, though, and goals to key forward Keitel and Zac Patterson were ominous of the impact they could have with some good supply.
But Brandon Donaldson got one back for the Bulldogs and then Haiden Schloithe kicked a beauty out of congestion just before half-time to see the home side head into the main break with a four-point advantage.
The rain then poured down at half-time at Fremantle Community Bank Oval changing the style of game in the second half and it was South Fremantle that came out adjusting the better to blow it wide open.
Schloithe kicked a goal to start off proceedings before the returning Zac Dent kicked another impressive goal under pressure too. Jimmy Miller then marked strongly in the wet and kicked truly before Zac Strom pipped off a West Perth handpass in defence to kick his second.
West Perth did claw one back courtesy of the lively Keegan Knott but then Bulldogs debutant Cody Ninyette continued his impressive day by kicking truly and South Fremantle was 26 points up by three quarter-time.
That grew to 32 to start the fourth quarter with a goal to Caleb Datson and despite a couple of impressive efforts from Knott, including a rare torpedo from 50m, Nick Suban's brilliant 50m set shot up the other end sealed the deal.
South Fremantle secured the 11.5 (71) to 7.8 (50) victory to move into next Sunday's Grand Final against Claremont back on their home deck.
Earlier in the day, the colts preliminary final saw Subiaco too good for East Fremantle winning 13.12 (90) to 4.4 (28) to book in a place in next Sunday's Grand Final at the same venue against Claremont.
Lachlan Vanirsen had a brilliant game for Subiaco with 29 possessions, seven tackles and two goals with Jacob Evitt and Lachlan McKay also kicking two goals.
Jed Kemp also had 21 possessions for the Lions, Jaxon McGowan 19, Tyler Brockman 19, Blake Morris 18 and Connor Patterson 17 to go with 11 tackles.
Jack Williams kicked two of East Fremantle's four goals while Josh Browne finished with 25 possessions, Finn Gorringe 24, Joel Baverstock 20, Jed Hagan 19 and Corey Warner 18.
And then in the reserves preliminary final, Claremont ensured it will be represented in all three grades next Sunday by beating Subiaco 12.5 (77) to 3.7 (25).
Tom Lee kicked four goals for Claremont with Ed McGinty, Jye Clark and Corey Hitchcock all managing two apiece.
Subiaco's goals came courtesy of Wil Hickmott, Mitchell Hughes and Jordan Adams.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – PRELIMINARY FINAL
SOUTH FREMANTLE 2.1 4.3 9.4 11.5 (71)
WEST PERTH 1.4 3.5 4.8 7.8 (50)
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Z Strom, Schloithe 2; Main, Donaldson, Dent, Miller, Ninyette, Datson, Suban.
Best – Schloithe, Higgins, Main, Dent, Pearson, Suban, Florenca.
WEST PERTH: Goals – Knott 3; Keitel 2; Kernutt, Patterson.
Best – Nelson, Black, Hamilton, Knott, Guadagnin, West, Tedesco.