Preliminary Final Preview v West Perth

Saturday, September 15, 2018 - 3:21 PM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle is back to Fremantle Community Bank Oval to take on West Perth in the preliminary with a spot in the 2018 WAFL Grand Final on the line.

South Fremantle has reached a third successive preliminary final having finished second on the ladder at the end of the home and away season for a third straight year with the Bulldogs now hoping to jump the hurdle and reach the Grand Final.

South Fremantle and West Perth meet in the preliminary final of 2018 at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday looking to book in a meeting with Subiaco at Optus Stadium in next Sunday's Grand Final.

The two teams were battling it out over second spot on the ladder for much of the season and it's only fitting now they are the ones to meet in the preliminary final with a Grand Final spot on the line.

South Fremantle will be playing in its third consecutive preliminary final and attempting to win its way into a first Grand Final appearance since 2009, when the Bulldogs beat the Lions for their last premiership.

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West Perth last played in a Grand Final against Subiaco in 2015 with the Falcons' last premiership coming in 2013 when they defeated East Perth in the decider.

The two teams met just two weeks ago in a qualifying final also at Fremantle Community Bank Oval and on that occasion South Fremantle kicked 16 of the last 17 goals of the game to run out 98-point winners.

Beyond that, South Fremantle has won its past nine matches against West Perth by an average of 47.8 points, but the two earlier meetings in 2018 prior to the qualifying final saw the Bulldogs only win by a combined 13 points.

West Perth's last win against South Fremantle came in Round 22, 2015 to the tune of 23 points with the Falcons on the way that year to a Grand Final appearance while the Bulldogs missed the finals for a fourth straight season.

For the third consecutive season, South Fremantle finished the home and away season in second position on the ladder ahead of winning that qualifying final against West Perth by 98 points.

South Fremantle then started strongly in last Sunday's second semi-final against Subiaco with a five goals to one opening quarter. But the Lions eventually worked their way on top with the only five goals of the third quarter to end up winning by 18 points.

That has South Fremantle now playing in its third successive preliminary final having lost on the same day the past two years against Peel Thunder in 2016 and Subiaco in 2017.

West Perth again qualified for the finals in 2018 from third position with an 11-7 record and then the Falcons responded well to that qualifying loss to South Fremantle with an impressive showing beating Claremont in last Sunday's first semi-final by 53 points at Joondalup Arena.

South Fremantle coach Todd Curley hasn’t always had a great time of things in preliminary finals whether it was the 1997 and 1998 losses at the Western Bulldogs as a player, or as a coach in 2008 at West Perth and the last two years with the Bulldogs.

But he won't be thinking about that on Sunday nor will he be thinking about how well South Fremantle beat West Perth two weeks ago or that they have won nine straight against the Falcons.

He knows that with a Grand Final berth on the line everything gets thrown out the window.

"The fact that at the end of the game you are in a Grand Final probably should take care of any thoughts of thinking it's just going to happen," Curley said.

"We've been in a position where we haven’t played very well at all and sometimes if you're winning games but not playing well it can cover up certain things that aren’t going well. 

"There's no doubt they would have looked at our game and saw some things they can do better and went back to work hard on it. They will be really stiff opposition for us and make sure we are ready to go."

South Fremantle has made two changes to the team that lost to Subiaco in last Sunday's second semi-final.

Ruckman Brock Higgins has shaken off an ankle complaint to return for the Bulldogs to take the place of his late replacement from last week, second-gamer Blair Della Franca.

The other change is a forced one with Steve Verrier out with a knee injury with his place to be taken by Kyle Russell.

Della Franca, Regan Spooner and Daniel Cabassi have been named as South Fremantle's three emergencies for the preliminary final.

West Perth has decided to make no changes to its team going in with the same 22 that beat Claremont last week, having made just the one change last week and that saw Connor West come in to take the place of Tyson Moulton.

West Perth's three emergencies for the preliminary final are Rudy Riddoch, Scott Nelson and Connor West.

PRELIMINARY FINAL
SOUTH FREMANTLE v WEST PERTH – FREMANTLE COMMUNITY BANK OVAL, SUNDAY 2.40PM
Broadcast –
Channel 7, ABC Radio, 91.3 SportFM, KIX Digital, Noongar Radio, Footy Radio