REIGNING premiers South Fremantle did enough to overcome East Perth by seven points on Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval but not without the Royals sending a scare through the Bulldogs.
The Royals are yet to win a game this season, however, clean forward work and high-pressure defence saw them come close to victory as they kept on fighting and closed to within just two points late in the piece.
East Perth looked a genuine chance at snatching their first win of the season and shocking the defending premiership. But South Fremantle ended getting home 10.4 (64) to 8.9 (57) on the back of a late goal to Jimmy Miller after a 50m penalty against Rohan Kerr.
South Fremantle dominated possession in the opening quarter, but often struggled to bring it forward as East Perth’s pressure prevented them from getting it inside 50 despite having 11 rebound 50s.
Part of this defensive pressure was physical defensive work from the Royals resulting in 22 tackles to 17, Angus Scott leading the team with four of them.
Jacob Dragovich and Chad Pearson led the ball movement for the Bulldogs, each with 11 disposals.
The game began to even out in the second quarter as East Perth settled in moving the ball forward, seeing the ball run the length of the field as each side had a fairer share of possession.
Both sides kicked three goals apiece in the second quarter to leave the margin just 10 points at half-time. Mitch Dobson marked and goaled late in the half for the Royals to capitalise on some smooth ball movement.
The equal pressure continued early into the second half, East Perth fetching a quick goal out of the gates in the third quarter to lessen the gap, hungry for their first win of the season.
A late scoring spree from the Bulldogs, however, saw them nail three goals and head into three quarter-time with a handy 16-point lead.
Into the final term and it was the Royals who dominated the scoreboard, kicking two quick goals and ultimately bringing the game down to the wire with just two points the difference and three minutes left of the game.
It was Jimmy Miller who supplied the match winner following a 50m penalty when Kerr jumped the gun assuming the umpire had called play on. Just like he did late in last year's Grand Final, Miller's set shot was dead and never looked like missing giving the Bulldogs the seven-point lead.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 6
SOUTH FREMANTLE 3.0 6.1 9.4 10.4 (64)
EAST PERTH 1.2 4.3 6.6 8.9 (57)
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Schloithe 3; Ninyette 2; Donaldson, Edwards, Shaw, Miller, Parker.
Best – Schloithe, Schlensog, N Strom, Blechynden, Pearson, Maskos, Dragovich.
EAST PERTH: Goals – Magro, Simpson 2; Hille, Young, Edwards-Baldwin, Dobson.
Best – Lynch, Scott, Robertson, Fullgrabe, Kerr, Blee, Wright.