Former Docker Haiden Schloithe starred as South Fremantle took another step towards getting their season back on track with a hard-fought 17-point derby defeat of East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval.
The Bulldogs were in control for the majority of their 13.5 (83) to 9.12 (66) victory, but were forced to endure some nervous moments in the final quarter.
They kicked the first three goals of the second half to create a 46-point buffer before seeing the lead whittled down to 11 as the Sharks mounted a serious challenge.
But the ice-cool Schloithe converted a free kick from 49m early in time-on of the final quarter to settle the contest.
Schloithe and Ryan Cook were on top in a dominant midfield and Ashton Hams was allowed to marshal the back half as the loose man in defence as South took control in the opening term.
In stark contrast to the Bulldogs’ energetic display, East Fremantle appeared sluggish and struggled to match their opponents’ desire early in the game.
The Sharks fought back late, kicking six of the last nine goals, but left too much work to do after a poor first-half display.
Schloithe finished with 27 possessions and four goals in a best-on-ground performance, with Cook (27 disposals) and Hams (36) also prominent.
Ben Saunders kicked seven goals in South’s upset win over West Perth last week and managed another two to take his tally to 16 in six matches this season.
Josh Pullman provided another marking target in attack for the Bulldogs with two goals.
Teen goal sneak Richard Bourne kicked the first major for East Fremantle inside the opening minute of the game, but South piled on the next five to take control of the contest.
The Sharks created few chances in the first term and were wasteful in the second after being given a quarter-time blast by coach Steve Malaxos, who implored his side to work harder.
Ryan Lester-Smith was one of the main offenders in front of goal, scoring one just behind from his three set shots in the first half.
South kicked the first two goals of the second quarter through Carter and Saunders to open up a commanding 37-point lead.
The Sharks wrested back some of the momentum in the midfield but couldn’t capitalise.
They went nearly an hour without kicking a goal before Jack Perham snapped truly from close range moments before half-time.
The game looked over within eight minutes of the restart as goals to the impressive Pullman, Saunders and Schloithe saw the margin blow out to nearly eight goals.
But Malaxos swung the changes and saw benefits when defender Matthew Jump marked strongly and booted two goals in attack.
The Sharks were a sniff when they got within two goals midway through the final term, but South steadied through Schloithe.
Hard-working midfielders Jamie McNamara (27 possessions) and Aidan Tropiano (28) were amongst East Fremantle’s best.
|GOALS - SOUTH FREMANTLE: Schloithe 4; Carter, Pullman, Saunders 2; Bewick, White, Martinez. EAST FREMANTLE: Jupp 2; R O'Brien, Peake, Lester-Smith, Howlett, Bourne, Read, Perham.|
BEST - SOUTH FREMANTLE: Schloithe, Cook, Hams, Borovac, Ross, Higgins, Guglielmana. EAST FREMANTLE: McNamara, Tropiano, Stephen, R O'Brien, Jupp.