South Fremantle continued their late-season flurry with a 14-point upset of second-placed Subiaco at Fremantle Oval last night.
The Bulldogs will not play finals but have won five of their past six matches to show incoming coach Todd Curley there is hope for next season.
The impressive run includes three wins over sides in the top four.
Curley was this week appointed to replace Paul Hasleby at the end of the season and would have been pleased by South’s dogged display in the 15.9 (99) to 12.13 (85) victory.
The Bulldogs led by nearly five goals in the second quarter and again in the last, but were twice forced to survive strong fight-backs from Subiaco.
They pulled away with three goals in quick succession at the start of the final term and looked home when Josh Pullman kicked truly to extend the margin to 29 points at the eight-minute mark.
Subiaco dominated the next 15 minutes of play, registering eight successive scoring shots to get within one goal during time-on.
But the Lions were left to rue a string of missed chances as they fell just short.
Spearhead Ben Saunders booted five goals for South Fremantle, including one after the final siren, to extend his
advantage over Subiaco counterpart Matt Boland at the top of the league goal-kicking list.
Saunders has 54 goals for the season and is in line to win his second Bernie Naylor Medal in three years.
Boland was well held by Dylan Ross and managed just five kicks for the match, finishing with one goal to take his season tally to 48.
Subiaco, who play East Fremantle next week, will be sweating on the result of a report laid against Chris Deluca for tripping opponent Adam Guglielmana with his leg during the second quarter.
Deluca was dangerous around goal and kicked the first two of the second half to spark the Lions into action.
He and Guglielmana were at it again soon after, becoming involved in a wrestle after the ball had left their area.
There is unlikely to be any available footage of the incident, but it will no doubt be investigated.
Deluca finished with three goals for the Lions, who were well served by Jason Bristow (27 disposals), Rhys Waters (22) and Kyal Horsley (28).
Ashton Hams was prolific as always for South Fremantle, finishing with 33 possessions, while Haiden Schloithe (28) was also prominent.
Ross and Jarrod Parry were strong performers in defence for the Bulldogs.
The Lions have suffered a mini-slump on the back of a bye.
| GOALS - SOUTH FREMANTLE: Saunders 5; Gillespie, Pullman 2; Schloithe, Kelly, Higgins, B Verrier, Hams, Garlett. SUBIACO: C Deluca 3; J Deluca 2, Waters, Horsley, Boland, Mahoney, Joyce, Clarke, Heal.|
BEST - SOUTH FREMANTLE: Schloithe, Hams, Saunders, Gillespie, Ross, Parry. SUBIACO: Horsley, Bristow, Mahoney, Wheeler, Joyce, C Deluca.