SOUTH Fremantle have held off a gallant and injury hit Subiaco to record an 18-point victory at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday afternoon.
In a clash between two of the competition’s heavyweights, it was the Bulldogs who ran out winners 12.8 (80) to 9.8 (62) against a Subiaco side that was reduced to 20 fit players for much of the game.
Haiden Schloithe was outstanding for the Bulldogs, amassing 39 possessions and kicking two goals in a dominant display while ruckman Brock Higgins was influential at stoppages, using his strong frame to work over opponents Lewis Putt and Lachlan Delahunty.
Late inclusion George Wessels was also solid for South Fremantle, making the most of the opportunity provided by Nick Suban’s late withdrawal to gather 19 disposals and eight tackles and play his role in the Bulldogs midfield rotation.
On a difficult day marred by injuries for Subiaco, on-baller Greg Clark continued his strong start to the season with 29 disposals and six tackles while up forward, Nick Martin was dangerous kicking two goals and setting up another in a polished display.
On a perfect autumn afternoon in Fremantle, it was a scrappy start to the game, with both sides refusing to give their opponents an inch, resulting in plenty of stoppages and a match primarily played between the arcs.
The arm-wrestle continued early in the second stanza, with the sides trading goals to start the quarter, before the Bulldogs capitalised on their advantage around the ball, slamming on three consecutive goals to hold a 22-point lead at the long change.
That was headlined by a piece of magic from dangerous small forward Cody Ninyette, who danced past three opponents to snap a sensational goal after being well held by Subiaco defender Jacob Miller up until that stage.
South Fremantle continued the rage after half-time, kicking the first three goals of the quarter, with Mason Shaw taking four marks inside-50, converting two of those into goals, to open up a 41-point lead midway through the term.
Under duress, Subiaco played out the rest of the game gallantly, playing with freedom and slicing through the Bulldogs zone, closing to within 17 points when Ben Sokol kicked truly at the 18-minute mark of the final term.
But it would prove too steep a cliff for the Lions to climb, with South Fremantle’s six consecutive goals either side of half time proving enough to give them a victory.
STAR DOGS GET OFF THE LEASH AFTER TIGHT OPENING
Cody Ninyette and Mason Shaw entered the round as second and third place respectively in the Bernie Naylor Medal race and would pose a significant challenge to the Subiaco defensive unit. They were kept quiet for much of the first half by Jacob Miller and Jordan Lockyer, with the forward duo struggling to find space in a hotly contested first quarter and a half. However, the star forwards would impose themselves on the game to give South Fremantle the crucial break, with Ninyette booting two crucial goals before half-time, whilst Mason Shaw’s outstanding work rate saw him take seven marks and kick three goals, including two in a purple patch early in the third term.
DEPLETED LIONS SHOW PLENTY OF HEART
The Subiaco medical staff were forced to work overtime at Fremantle Community Bank Oval. A sickening head clash between Max Walters and Rowen Powell saw both players leave the ground while Hayden Kennedy appeared in discomfort after an incident in the second term and was clearly hampered playing out the game. Despite the lack of rotations and significant three quarter time deficit, the visitors showed plenty of resilience to kick three goals to none in the last quarter and appearing to overrun the home side.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 5
SOUTH FREMANTLE 1.1 8.1 12.6 12.8 (80)
SUBIACO 2.2 4.3 6.5 9.8 (62)
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Shaw 3; Schloithe, Ninyette 2; Rioli, Donaldson, McCarthy, Parker, Datson.
Best – Schloithe, Dragovich, Higgins, Wessels, Schlensog, Maskos.
SUBIACO: Goals – Sokol, Martin 2; Delahunty, Harris, Putt, Faraone, Heal.
Best – Clark, Kitchin, Marsh, Delahunty, Martin.