Bull­dogs all at sea in wet

Cockburn Gazette - - SPORT - Jor­dan McArdle

WHEN asked what went wrong af­ter South Fre­man­tle’s worst per­for­mance of the sea­son, coach Todd Cur­ley’s an­swer was sim­ple: “Everything”.

Cur­ley was un­der­stand­ably in no mood to chat late last Sun­day, with his team fail­ing to turn up for the con­test.

Af­ter start­ing the sea­son with seven con­sec­u­tive wins, the mi­nor premiers have suf­fered back-to-back losses and are star­ing down the bar­rel of a straight-sets fi­nals exit if they don’t beat West Perth in this week­end’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal at Fre­man­tle Com­mu­nity Bank Oval.

Clare­mont had been too hun­gry, too classy and too good in the greasy con­di­tions for the shell-shocked Bull­dogs, who have looked a shadow of them­selves of late, in a one-sided sec­ond semi-fi­nal.

They didn’t kick a goal un­til the nine-minute mark of the third quar­ter through San­dover medal­list Haiden Schloithe and strug­gled all over the ground, look­ing a bit too tall for the weather.

The grand fi­nal-bound Tigers led pretty much ev­ery key statis­tic, from pos­ses­sions (297-246) to in­side 50s (49-23), tack­les (81-67), scor­ing shots (21-9) and even­tu­ally the score­board, which read 10.11 (71) to 3.6 (24) at the fi­nal siren.

“We didn’t play well. They were much harder and wanted the ball more, spread more, used the ball bet­ter. That’s why you work hard to get a sec­ond chance,” Cur­ley said.

Cur­ley was adamant his side could turn things around against the Fal­cons, who his side have beaten 12 times out of their past 13 meet­ings, dat­ing back to 2016.

“Of course we can,” he said.

South were dealt a mas­sive pre-game blow with in­form on-baller Kade Ste­wart be­ing a late with­drawal with ham­string tight­ness.

Ste­wart is a near-cer­tain starter for Sun­day af­ter­noon’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal; like­wise with San­dover Medal fancy Jake Florenca (knee), who was also close to lin­ing up in last week­end’s game.

The Bull­dogs sorely missed Florenca’s mid­field in­flu­ence against a star-stud­ded Tigers en­gine room which ran ram­pant, led by Jye Bolton and De­clan Mount­ford.

The de­ci­sion to rest a trio of de­fend­ers — Chris Luff, Blayne Wil­son and Jason Maskos — and flirt with form for the fi­nal home-an­d­away round against Perth might have also come back to bite them.

West Perth did just enough to knock off the De­mons, who have been the Bull­dogs’ bogy side in re­cent times, in the other semi-fi­nal at Joon­dalup.

Pic­ture: Iain Gille­spie

Bull­dog Steven Ver­rier off­loads the ball dur­ing last Sun­day’s semi fi­nal loss to Clare­mont.

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