Ben Saunders suffered a broken collarbone as South Fremantle challenged strongly before being over-run by premiership defenders Claremont in the opening match of the WAFL season.
Scores were level at half-time as the spirited Bulldogs matched the skill level of their highly credentialled opponents.
But the loss of Saunders, who broke his collarbone early in the third term coincided with the Tigers demonstrating the midfield power and attacking potency that will make them difficult to beat again this season.
Ruck recruit Mark Seaby displayed his class with 30 hit outs that but it was another young big man in Jeremy McGovern who had the most profound influence on the 48-point result.
McGovern, the West Coast rookie, took a series of one grab contested marks and kicked four goals.
With fellow forwards Anton Hamp, Ian Richardson and Paul Medhurst all having a significant impact, Claremont were able to convert the prolific delivery of their on-ball brigade.
And dual premiership spearhead Chad Jones kicked five goals in the reserves after a limited preparation in the pre-season to provide ominous signs for the coming weeks.
Saunders kicked two early goals, including a remarkable 60m bomb in the second term, but South were not able to find a replacement spearhead once he went off the field.
Ruckman Sean Tighe worked hard against Seaby and Mitch Andrews and finished with 22 possessions but was not able to quieten the Tigers duo in the ruck contests.The Bulldogs were well served by Port Adelaide recruit Mitch Banner, who kicked three goals, while the pace of Kingsley Smith and Alex Grima was an important element in South’s stronger showing.
|GOALS - CLAREMONT: McGovern 4; Murphy, Hamp 3; Richardson, Medhurst 2; Blackwell, Bradshaw, Browne, Winmar, Neates, Schammer. SOUTH FREMANTLE: Banner 3; Saunders, Smith 2; Winter, Mugambwa, Gillespie.|
BEST - CLAREMONT: McGovern, Seaby, Davies, Blackwell, Murphy, Holt. SOUTH FREMANTLE: Tighe, Banner, Cook, Collica, Smith, Miller.
INJURIES – SOUTH FREMANTLE: Saunders (collarbone).
UMPIRES: Brown, Martin, P McCaw.
CROWD: 2000 (approx) at Claremont Oval.
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