Bulldogs all at sea in wet
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.
Bulldog Steven Verrier offloads the ball during last Sunday’s semi final loss to Claremont.