DON'T expect a goal feast as two defensive beasts lock horns in Saturday's WAFL Grand Final but with Subiaco looking for a fifth premiership in eight years and South Fremantle to go back-to-back, it should be quite the battle.
Subiaco and South Fremantle have regularly occupied the top two positions dating back to 2016, and it's again the case in 2021 with the minor premiership only going the way of the Lions when they clung to a final round victory against the Bulldogs.
The two teams are about to meet in a seventh finals clash over that period as well and while Subiaco have won all six of those previous match ups, it's South Fremantle who comes into the clash as the reigning premiers.
It's hard to argue that this isn’t the Grand Final we deserve in 2021 when you consider Subiaco is now searching for its fifth premiership over the last eight years while South Fremantle is aiming to go back-to-back in their third straight appearance on the big day.
It all sets the stage for a tantalising match up between Subiaco and South Fremantle at Optus Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Bouncedown is set for 3.20pm with a crowd of more than 30,000 expected at the same venue the AFL Grand Final was at a week earlier while for those not able to attend, it will be shown live on Channel 7.
Any goal during the Grand Final on Saturday will be cherished given just how stingy both clubs have been throughout 2021.
The Lions have been remarkably tight conceding only 62.7 points a game in 2021. Only once did they give up 100 points and in 12 of their 19 games did they have 11 goals or fewer kicked against them.
There is the experienced brigade of Jordan Lockyer, Aaron Heal, Angus Dewar, Hayden Kennedy and Drew Rohde showing the way and if they can hold up like they have throughout the season, South Fremantle kicking a winning score will be quite the challenge.
That doesn’t mean South Fremantle's back-line isn’t strong too. The Bulldogs only gave up 65.7 points this season and are fresh off holding Claremont to a lowest preliminary final score in history.
Blayne Wilson nor Blake Schlensog might be there for South Fremantle on Saturday, but Noah Strom and Chad Pearson will anchor the defence alongside Jason Maskos and youngsters Aiden Hall, Toby McQuilkin and Trent Newton.
Both teams have lively forward lines too. It just might not be the occasion for a big bag, kicking three might make for a match-winning performance.
So who out of Subiaco's Ben Sokol, Jack Mayo, Harry Marsh, Max Walters, Michael Braut, Brandon Matera and Nick Martin, or South Fremantle's Mason Shaw, Jimmy Miller, Cody Ninyette, Manfred Kelly and Haiden Schloithe could be pivotal.
Given the strong defensive units at both ends of the Grand Final teams, first use out of the middle and giving your forwards first chance is going to be pivotal.
The ruck battle between Subiaco's Lachlan Delahunty and Brock Higgins will be fascinating too. Higgins will win the hit out battle but which midfield group gets on top won't be as simple as that.
Both run deep through there, though, with the Lions led by Leigh Kitchin, Greg Clark, Harry Marsh, Wil Hickmott and Liam Hickmott, and the Bulldogs by Nick Suban, Tom Blechynden, Jacob Dragovich, Matthew Parker, Schloithe and Jake Florenca.
You also have Chad Harris up against Zac Strom out on a wing and really, anywhere you look will be pivotal match ups that could help to decide the 2021 premiership.
It's also the rematch of the 2019 Grand Final with Subiaco looking for more of the same after that 96-point triumph while South Fremantle have redemption on their minds.
This will also be the seventh finals meeting between the two teams over the past six years and Subiaco has dominated that recent period. Along the way, the Lions have beaten the Bulldogs in four second semi-finals, a preliminary final and then that 2019 Grand Final.
Subiaco also more recently beat South Fremantle by 22 points in the second semi-final two weeks ago at Leederville Oval. The Lions opened up a 40-point lead by early in the third term and while the Bulldogs mounted a fightback, they couldn’t quite bridge the gap.
That saw the Lions move straight into the Grand Final on the back of also having a week off to start the finals, while the Bulldogs had to lick their wounds and deal with the absence of Dylan Main, Blayne Wilson, Brandon Donaldson and Blake Schlensog to take on Claremont in the preliminary final.
South Fremantle went on to keep Claremont goalless for three quarters and then held on for the 11-point win to book in their appearance in a third straight Grand Final as they now attempt to go back-to-back for the first time since the hat-trick of 1952-53-54.
After a down year in 2020 where they missed finals altogether, Subiaco has returned to familiar territory in 2021 to have claimed a sixth minor premiership from the last seven years as they try to win fifth premiership in the last eight years, and a ninth since 2003.
Premiership success isn’t unfamiliar to a whole host of players across both teams too and you have Lachlan Delahunty attempting to win a fifth premiership with Subiaco while Nick Suban could win the fifth WAFL flag of his Claremont, Peel Thunder and South Fremantle career.
Leigh Kitchin, Hayden Kennedy, Jordan Lockyer and Aaron Heal are all shooting for a fourth Subiaco premiership as well with Angus Dewar, Max Walters, Greg Clark, Ben Sokol and Drew Rohde having won two previously, and Kyle Stainsby, Harry Marsh and Michael Braut one.
Haiden Schloithe, Jacob Dragovich, Tom Blechynden, Cody Ninyette, Chad Pearson, Zac Strom, brock Higgins, Mason Shaw, Jimmy Miller, Noah Strom and Jason Maskos are the players trying to go back-to-back with the Bulldogs along with Suban.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – FINALS SERIES
SUBIACO v SOUTH FREMANTLE – OPTUS STADIUM, SATURDAY 3.20PM
Live scores, stats
TV: Channel 7
Radio: 91.3 SportFM, SEN