SOUTH Fremantle's premiership defence continues to gather momentum and it's through a blend of youth and experience who are delivering after a commanding 36-point win on the road to Swan Districts on Saturday.
There might have been some concern over the premiership credentials of the Bulldogs going back several weeks when they suffered surprise losses to Perth and East Perth, but that has now been put to bed.
The Bulldogs are now on a three-game winning streak after Saturday's emphatic 36-point win over a Swan Districts team who was at home at Steel Blue Oval and had been in impressive form themselves coming into the game.
However, the 15.5 (95) to 9.5 (59) triumph meant that South Fremantle has now won its past eight games against Swan Districts to set up a top-of-the-table clash with Subiaco, and did so minus Dylan Main, Brock Higgins, Ben Rioli and Zac Strom.
Swan Districts had the chance to draw level on premiership points with the Bulldogs with a win, but were comprehensively outplayed by the reigning premiers to go down by 36 points.
Midfield trio Tom Blechynden, Haiden Schloithe and Nick Suban were excellent for the visitors, getting on top in the clearance battle and ensuring the Bulldogs would enjoy a dominance in field position, winning the inside-50 count 48 to 32.
Up forward, reigning Bernie Naylor Medallist Mason Shaw was terrific on return after missing last week, booting a five-goal bag while remaining captain in the absence of Main.
He worked well in tandem with defender-turned-forward Blake Schlensog, who kicked four goals of his own and impressed with his forward craft and defensive pressure, and noted overhead marking strength.
Sandover Medallist Sam Fisher was prolific for Swan Districts with 27 disposals while improved defender Brandon Erceg battled hard in the back-line but it was left to too few for the Black Ducks.
After a tight opening, Blechynden would break the deadlock, snapping a clever goal on his non-preferred left foot from a forward stoppage to put South Fremantle on the board.
That would spark the Bulldogs into action, as they kicked five of the next six goals either side of quarter-time to open up a 31-point lead just before the long break.
Jiah Reidy would respond for Swans just before half-time, kicking a team-lifting goal from outside 50 to reduce the margin and give the home side some momentum heading into the second half.
The sides traded goals to start the third quarter, before the visitors would gain the ascendency to extinguish any chance of a comeback, with debutant Jesse Motlop getting involved to kick two majors and help his team to a 43-point advantage at three quarter-time.
Swans would run the game out well, outscoring the visitors in the final term but would never seriously threaten South Fremantle in what was a solid all-round performance from the reigning premiers.
In injury news, Zac Strom suffered a suspected compound fracture in his hand while ruckmen Hamish Free left the field late to sour an otherwise positive day for the Bulldogs in Bassendean.
SON OF A GUN'S IMPRESSIVE DEBUT
After some outstanding performances for Aquinas College in the PSA Competition and for South Fremantle’s colts, draft prospect Jesse Motlop, son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne forward Daniel, was given his first taste of league football against Swan Districts after one game in the reserves last week. The 17-year-old didn’t look out of place and was a solid contributor in the win, highlighted by kicking a set shot from 50m in the third quarter. He finished with 13 disposals, six marks and two goals.
SWANS DEPTH TESTED
Swan Districts has been one of the most improved sides this season, looking headed for a finals spot after finishing seventh in 2020. But against an experienced and finals-hardened South Fremantle outfit, the Swans looked a little off the pace, especially in the midfield battle. With Frank Anderson a late withdrawal and star ruckman Corey Gault unusually quiet, some of the Bulldogs experienced midfielders were able to get off the chain and drive home a comfortable victory for their side.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 15
SWAN DISTRICTS 1.1 2.3 5.4 9.5 (59)
SOUTH FREMANTLE 2.2 6.4 12.5 15.5 (95)
SWAN DISTRICTS: Goals – Jetta, Reidy, Noble 2; Palmer, Clarke, Riggio.
Best – Fisher, Turner, Cipro, Clarke, Riley, Erceg, Beck, Riggio.
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Shaw 5; Schlensog 4; Motlop 2; Schloithe, Blechynden, Miller, Kelly.
Best – Schloithe, Blechynden, Schlensog, Dragovich, Shaw, Suban, Pearson, McQuilkin, N Strom.