East Fremantle’s return to form continued this afternoon with a morale-boosting 15-point win over rivals South Fremantle in the WA day derby at Fremantle Oval.
The contest was expected to be an emotional one in Bulldogs veteran and former Shark Kris Miller’s final game of WAFL football, but was instead a scrappy affair in front of a bumper crowd of more than 6000 people.
A three-goal burst from the Sharks in the dying stages of the first half gave them a gap the home side couldn’t bridge and allowed them to run out 15.16 (106) to 13.13 (91) winners.
The result is their second win in as many weeks and puts them right in the mix for finals this season.
Former captain Mark McGough was enormous for East Fremantle with 27 touches and two goals, but will also face an anxious wait after being reported for an ugly bump in the third quarter.
Defenders Andrew Stephen and Brock O’Brien were also good for the Sharks, starving the Bulldogs of opportunities in front of goal.
Ryan Cook (30 disposals) and Tim Kelly (28) were the best for South.
East Fremantle had lost their previous four opening quarters but attacked the contest with vigour early.
Brandon Ellis was the first Shark to find the scoreboard but a couple of missed opportunities came back to bite them after the Bulldogs kicked two majors against the play through Haiden Schloithe and Mitch Carter.
Jayden Schofield and Brett Peake rebounded to kick the final two goals of the term to give the Sharks a one-goal lead at the first break.
South Fremantle hit the scoreboard quickly in the second quarter with goals to Bernie Naylor medallist Ben Saunders and Craig White as Kelly lifted in the midfield and continuously pumped the ball forward.
When Saunders kicked his second in 10 minutes the home side had taken a narrow lead and looked in control of the contest.
However the Sharks had another push in them and were rewarded for their field position with a second goal to Ellis.
Ryan Lester-Smith, McGough and Bradd Dalziell added another three goals in a flurry to give the visitors a 17-point lead, the biggest of the game to that point, at half-time.
Ellis’ third goal in the opening minutes of the third quarter made it five goals straight to East Fremantle, who were threatening to take the game out of the hands of their traditional rivals.
A goal to Schloithe and two to Carter brought the Dogs back within 14 points in the shadow of three-quarter time.
However the Sharks rallied again through James Bristow and Lester-Smith to blow the lead out to 27 points at the final change.
Goals to Ashton Hams, who had an unusually quiet afternoon, Saunders and Cook in the final quarter brought the home side back within 16 points late, but the Sharks had done enough.
|GOALS - SOUTH FREMANTLE: Carter, Saunders 3; Schloithe 2, White, Pullman, Cook, Hams, Kelly. EAST FREMANTLE: Lester-Smith 4; Ellis 3; McGough 2; Schofield, Peake, J Bristow, T Bristow, Dalziell, Perham.|
BEST - SOUTH FREMANTLE: Cook, Kelly, B Verrier, Carter, Higgins, Hams. EAST FREMANTLE: McGough, Stephen, O’Brien, Lester-Smith, McNamara, Dalziell.