IN front of a remarkable atmosphere generated from a sold out crowd at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, South Fremantle is back on top of the WAFL world winning a classic Grand Final against Claremont by three points.
The stage was always set for a memorable day at Fremantle Community Bank Oval and a monster crowd of 10,179 turned out to create an occasion that nobody in attendance will ever forget.
The game then delivered too with the two best teams of 2020 putting on a classic. There were times when both looked capable of winning the premiership but in the end South Fremantle kicked the first two goals of the fourth quarter and that was enough to secure the 6.10 (46) to 6.7 (43) win.
It is South Fremantle's first premiership since 2009 and 14th overall, and the first the Bulldogs have ever won on home turf at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
South Fremantle's midfield had lost its leading ball winner from all season Jake Florenca to a ruptured Achilles in the preliminary final, but Jacob Dragovich stepped up in the Grand Final with 23 possessions, five marks and five tackles.
Captain Dylan Main was huge as well with 20 disposals, five marks and five while Haiden Schloithe battled hard desperate to become a premiership player with 18 disposals and seven tackles.
Zac Strom must have gone close to a Simpson Medal for his game made up of 16 possessions, six marks and two goals while ruckman Brock Higgins once again did a power of work with 15 disposals, 33 hit outs and eight tackles.
Jimmy Miller threatened to tear the game open with 15 touches and four marks but couldn’t kick straight until when it mattered the most with what turned out to be the premiership sealer.
Noah Strom did a strong job down back on Anton Hamp while Ben Rioli provided some good run with 12 possessions and Blayne Wilson was important with 12 disposals and seven marks.
Nick Suban is now a four-time WAFL premiership player with his medal going with his one with Claremont from 2012 and two at Peel Thunder in 2016 and 2017.
Jye Bolton received the Simpson Medal after being judged best afield for a performance from the Claremont midfielder that was made up of 35 possessions, seven inside 50s, five marks and four tackles.
He obviously didn’t get the premiership he is craving but he is now a triple Simpson Medal winner and a dual Sandover Medallist in a remarkable career he has built since moving across to Claremont from the VFL.
Bolton had plenty of good support from his Tigers teammates too despite the end result with Alec Waterman threatening to be the difference kicking three goals. At the other end, Haydn Busher was tremendous in his role opposed to Mason Shaw.
Bailey Rogers capped off his terrific season with another 24 disposals while Jared Hardisty had 22 touches (eight tackles), Rylie Morgan 17, Declan Mountford 16 (11 tackles) and Callan England 14.
Oliver Eastland had quite a battle in the ruck with Higgins and had 15 disposals, 24 hit outs and seven tackles himself.
The first goal of the Grand Final went South Fremantle's way thanks to a straight kick from Zac Strom and it would take more than 10 minutes for the only other goal of the opening term which went to Claremont courtesy of second semi-final hero Alec Waterman.
Brandon Donaldson put South Fremantle back on top to start the second quarter with a goal before Waterman added his second. The Bulldogs peppered the goals the rest of the half but couldn’t add another goal and went into half-time leading by just the three points.
South Fremantle threatened to blow the game open to start the second half with a second goal to Zac Strom and then a clever snap from a tight angle by captain Dylan Main after he marked strongly.
But Claremont wouldn’t be going away and suddenly goals to Callan England and Ben Edwards had them close again, and then Waterman kicked his third of the Grand Final to put the Tigers on top by two points at three quarter-time.
The stage was set for a remarkable last quarter and that's certainly the way it would pan out in front of an atmosphere you can only generate on such a suburban ground.
Mason Shaw showed a cool head to steady and kick around his body for his first goal in the finals in his 100th WAFL game to put South Fremantle back in front and then fellow key forward Jimmy Miller took yet another big mark.
This time he did go back to kick truly and the lead was out to nine points. Claremont had one last crack with a quick goal to Declan Hardisty but the Tigers didn’t have time for another and it would be South Fremantle's premiership to celebrate with the 6.10 (46) to 6.7 (43) victory.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – GRAND FINAL
SOUTH FREMANTLE 1.1 2.7 4.10 6.10 (46)
CLAREMONT 1.1 2.4 5.6 6.7 (43)
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Z Strom 2; Miller, Shaw, Main, Donaldson.
Best – Z Strom, Higgins, Dragovich, Main, Schloithe, Miller, Blechynden.
CLAREMONT: Goals – Waterman 3; D Hardisty, Edwards, England.
Best – Bolton, J Hardisty, Rogers, Mountford, Waterman, Busher, Morgan.
SIMPSON MEDAL: Jye Bolton (Claremont)