Two consecutive free kicks against controversial Perth defender Chris Billings have virtually guaranteed that South Fremantle will avoid the wooden spoon this season.
Billings was penalised for taking the ball deliberately out of bounds in South Fremantle’s forward pocket early in the last quarter at Fremantle Oval yesterday with the Bulldogs leading the error-riddled match by just six points.
Ben Saunders converted the free kick and then was given another kick before the ball was returned to the centre after umpire Gareth Parker penalised Billings again for verbal abuse.
The controversial incident appeared to rob Perth of their resolve with South Fremantle strolling to the 24-point victory that moved them a game and percentage clear of last-placed Peel.
Saunders was the most significant difference between the two lowly teams during one of the most eventful performances of a season in which he is leading the WAFL goal-kicking with 59 majors.
He kicked 6.5, had another shot go out of bounds and was reported in the first term for a late challenge on Perth’s freewheeling Leon Davis.
Former Perth rover Chris Mitsopolous, a key element of the team’s last glory years in the mid 1970s, did not mince his words as the Demons saw another potential victory evaporate.
“This is the dumbest football I have seen in a long while,” the 103-match veteran exclaimed as Perth’s indiscriminate forays into attack were easily rebuffed by South Fremantle.
The first quarter was horrendous with both teams only managing one goal in nearly perfect conditions.
Matters improved after the first break with both teams controlling the play for extended periods but neither proved able to break the game open.
It was not until the last term, with Saunders’ two goals and others to Alex Grima and Shannon Burnett that allowed the Bulldogs to secure their fifth win of the season.
|GOALS – SOUTH FREMANTLE: Saunders 6; Woods 3; Sgherza, Burnett, Grima 2; Winter. PERTH: Tunbridge 4; Young 2; Bevan, Leeson, McInnes, Al Smith, Stack, T Noakes.
BEST – SOUTH FREMANTLE: Tighe, Saunders, Grima, Mugambwa, Woods, Martinez, Lowrie. PERTH: Jacobs, Davis, Al Smith, Young, Jacobs, Tunbridge.
'''INJURIES – SOUTH FREMANTLE: Lowrie (collarbone).
UMPIRES: T Keating, R McCaw, G Parker.
REPORTS: Billings (P) for rough conduct on Schloithe. Saunders (SF) for rough conduct on Davis.
CROWD: 1500 (approx) at Fremantle Oval.