Reigning premiers South Fremantle have rained on the parade of veteran Troy Cook, surging clear of a brave Perth in the final term to triumph by 26 points at Fremantle Oval this afternoon.
The Demons were searching for their first victory of the season and entered the contest with no shortage of emotional impetus, with 33-year-old Cook playing his 300th senior match and players donning black armbands to pay tribute to former president George Spalding, who died last Sunday.
Yet the visitors had no answer for West Coast-listed forward Callum Wilson, who booted a career-best seven goals to spearhead the 17.18 (120) to 15.4 (94) win.
And Cook finished the match with his name in the umpire's reporting book for rough conduct.
Wilson, 21, kicked three consecutive majors in the third term to force his team back into the contest and the reigning premiers lifted after three-quarter time, booting five goals to one in the final quarter to inflict heartbreak for Perth fans.
The key-position player finished the match with 19 disposals and nine marks.
The result lifted South Fremantle to a 3-4 win-loss record and gave them fresh momentum, while Demons coach Andrew Jarman will come under renewed pressure with his team losing their sixth successive match this season.
South Fremantle suffered a major blow heading into the match, with No.1 ruckman Jaymie Graham a late withdrawal with an achilles tendon injury, replaced in the selected side by fourth-gamer Anthony Collica.
The change handed the Demons a distinct advantage in the ruck and Will Sullivan dominated, with the Eagles-listed tall collecting 38 hit-outs in one of his best WAFL performances.
Rebounding Bulldogs defender Josh Head appeared to have been given a licence to push forward off half-back and booted the opening goal a minute into the first term with a long-range effort on the run from 50m out.
Perth quickly rebounded after conceding the opening two goals, with forward Matthew Ferguson getting the better of his match-up with Sam Hunt.
The visitors slotted four consecutive goals, but conceded late majors to danger man Wilson and small forward Cory Dell’Olio up the other end.
A one-point lead was extended to 13 points by Perth at the 20-minute mark of the second quarter as their midfield heavily dominated possession, but the home side again finished off the term strongly with four goals on the trot to snatch a two-goal lead at the main break.
An upset appeared in the offing when second-gamer Jordan Eades was awarded a free kick three minutes into the third term and converted to kick-start a run of four majors.
Fellow forward Alex McLeod broke free from opponent Andrew McCarrey to slot four of his own goals for the term, but an undaunted South Fremantle hung on in the contest thanks mainly to Wilson.
A host of experienced teammates led by Toby McGrath and Andrew Siegert came to the party late in the match to guarantee the victory.
SOUTH FREM....4.0....9.7....12.10....17.18 (120)
GOALS – SOUTH FREMANTLE: Wilson 7; Siegert, Collica, McGrath 2; Head, Dell’Olio, White, Murphy. PERTH: Eades, McLeod 4; Ferguson, Mzungu 2; Lang, Elari, Florio
BEST – SOUTH FREMANTLE: Wilson, Amato, Gugielmana, White, Siegert, McGrath. PERTH: Mzungu, Young, Sullivan, Eades, Elari, Ferguson.
INJURIES – SOUTH FREMANTLE: Graham (Achilles), North (hamstring). PERTH: Nil.
REPORTS: Cook (P) for rough conduct against Wilkie in the final quarter.
UMPIRES: Wardman, Pattinson, Shelton.
CROWD: 2000 (approx) at Fremantle Oval