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Match Report – Gutsy Demons do it again over Bulldogs

Monday, May 24, 2021 - 10:43 AM by Charlie McCormack

DESPITE the absence of a host of key, experienced players Perth has held reigning premiers to one goal after quarter-time to produce a gutsy 20-point victory at home to South Fremantle.

Last time the two teams played at Mineral Resources Park it was an occasion that will go down in history as the night the Demons' finals drought was broken as they stormed home to come from behind and beat the Bulldogs and book in a spot for their first finals appearance since 1997.

This time it wasn't quite as dramatic at the same venue for the Demons but it was equally impressive as they dominated the reigning premiers after quarter-time to end up with the 11.8 (74) to 7.12 (54) victory.

With the likes of Chris Masten, Dakota Baldwin-Wright, Brant College, Brady Grey, Fraser McInnes and Michael Sinclar all missing from the Demons, it was a win full of character against a South Fremantle team that remarkably only kicked one goal after quarter-time.

It was an even performance across the ground from the Demons, with Kristian Cary (four goals) and Matthew Taylor (21 disposals and 7 marks) being among their best, while Haydn Busher was a ‘jack of all trades’, playing all across the ground to be an important component of the Perth win.

For the visitors, captain Dylan Main was simply outstanding, while on-ballers Jacob Dragovic (26 disposals) and Tom Blechynden (21 disposals and 8 tackles) battled hard but the Bulldogs lacked the depth of contributors that the home side had. 

South Fremantle opened up an early 19-point lead, with spearhead Mason Shaw and Main kicking two goals apiece, both looking too big and strong for their direct opponents in ominous signs for Perth. 

But Busher was swung down back to help the defence and it was a move that paid dividends, with the swingman taking two intercept marks and helping the Demons kick the next two majors to settle into the game.

After a high scoring first quarter, an arm-wrestle would ensue in the second term, with Perth managing to stay in touch with the reigning premiers courtesy of some excellent pressure around the ball. 

After good conditions in the first half, the forecasted rain set in after half-time, making goals harder to come by and transforming the game into a contested scrap as both sides looked to surge the ball forward. 

Perth would adjust better to the conditions, locking the ball in their front half for large periods of the third quarter and were rewarded with goals in quick succession to Jacob Peletier and Doulton Langlands to give them an 11-point advantage at the final change.

Sam Stubbs would kick the first goal of the final stanza to give the hosts some breathing room before Perth withstood every challenge the Bulldogs threw at them in the last quarter to hold onto a fantastic win. 

Against a classy South Fremantle line-up, the Demons pressure across the four quarters was superb, rarely giving their opponents any time or space. The hosts’ manic pressure was embodied by feisty youngster Jye Clark in the third quarter, when he produced two desperate efforts on the members wing to be awarded with holding the ball free kicks and ensure the ball remained locked in the Perth forward half. Every Demon on the field contributed to the physical approach and led to Perth winning the overall tackle count 79-60.


PERTH                5.0    7.2    9.7    11.8 (74)
SOUTH FREMANTLE        6.2    7.5    7.8    7.12 (54)

PERTH: Goals – Cary 4; Langlands, Stubbs 2; Hitchcock, Busher, Peletier.
Best – Byrne, Fisher, Taylor, Cary, Edmonds, Coniglio, Busher.
SOUTH FREMANTLE: Goals – Main, Shaw 2; Dragovich, Rioli, Miller.
Best – Main, Dragovich, Pearson, Blechynden, Parker, Schlensog