SOUTH Fremantle proved its premiership class breaking away in the second half to begin their flag defence with a thrilling 21-point victory over West Perth at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
West Perth came out fighting to start the game, defensive pressure causing South Fremantle to scramble for the ball, with Keegan Knott producing an early lead for the Falcons with the season opener.
However, the premiers showed their experience with far more structured play in moving the ball forward when they could get hold of the ball, producing a goal from Caleb Datson as a result.
While the game was played predominantly in West Perth’s forward half, a lacklustre quarter ensued. Though the intensity of the game was present there was little execution from either side despite having less than one goal the difference.
The game began to take shape mid second quarter, when South Fremantle made a hat trick of goals, two from Brandon Donaldson and another from Haiden Schloithe.
Tyler Keitel was a strong force for the Falcons, producing three of five goals in the opening half ensuring the premiers never got more than a goals lead.
Half-time saw a four-point lead by the Bulldogs, sparked by their recent flurry of goals and they led 6.4 (40) to 5.6 (36).
Both sides emerged from the tunnel hungry for victory in the second half, West Perth were quick to get ahead, with a strong contested mark from returning player Rudy Riddoch in the goal square resulting in another goal for West Perth.
But the premiers quickly showed their clean execution skills with a flurry of goals, ending with a free kick from Mason Shaw to put them ahead.
Shaw made a keen contribution to the final result, with the reigning Bernie Naylor Medallist kicking four goals for the day with another notable performance from excitement machine Cody Ninyette who kicked five.
The high scoring continued into the final quarter with a total of eight goals scored across both teams and the Bulldogs reaching the century mark with a behind from Datson late in the game.
While the Falcons made an ambitious return, bringing the difference back to just four points at times, it was not enough to overthrow the reigning premiers. Knott and Keitel led the Falcons with four goals each with their eight combined goals a big chunk of the team's 15 majors.
Starting the season with a clean victory and solid showcasing of skill and execution, the Bulldogs showed more than enough to prove they’ll take some stopping for the flag again this year defeating West Perth 16.10 (106) to 13.7 (85), who also demonstrated themselves to be another team to watch this season.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 1
SOUTH FREMANTLE 3.3 6.4 11.5 16.10 (106)
WEST PERTH 3.4 5.6 10.7 13.7 (85)
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Ninyette 5; Shaw 4; Donaldson, Schloithe 2; Datson, Miller, Suban.
Best – Schloithe, Donaldson, Parker, Ninyette, Schlensog, Higgins, Dragovich.
WEST PERTH: Goals – Keitel, Knott 4; Alexandre, Black, Moulton, Riddoch, West.
Best – Nelson, Manzone, Black, Wilhelm, Guadagnin, West.