The WAWFL provided a Saturday night highlight under lights at Fremantle Oval, courtesy of the fired up derby between the South Fremantle Bulldogs and East Fremantle Sharks.
Beating strongly in the heart of the Fremantle city centre, this game brought with it several heart-stopping, exciting moments, and one of the best comeback stories of 2016. The South Fremantle Football club overcame a twenty three point deficit at three quarter time to run away with a hard-fought one goal win.
This was no average win. For the Bulldogs, it is one that’ll no doubt be recognised as one of their most hard-fought, triumphant comebacks, but they sure had to work for it.
As heavy rain clouds loomed, the Sharks took advantage of the then dry conditions by opening the match with a dominant first quarter. Despite this and their higher inside fifty count, they only lead by 7 points at quarter time.
Shark Emma Swanson did her side plenty of favours as an effective ball magnet, whilst Joanne Beechey proved important for their side as their only multiple goal scorer with two majors. Despite these efforts, and three quarters of consistent football, East Fremantle would eventually fade away.
Taking a 7 point lead into the second quarter, the Sharks extended it to 15 by half time. With the heavens momentarily opening up with persistent rain in the opening minutes of the second term, a typical low scoring, highly contested game was in order, which was reflected as several shots on goal misfired, with the first six scores of the quarter all behinds. As the rain eventually dried up, so did the accurate goal scoring, until the Sharks eventually broke the second quarter goal drought moments before the final siren.
The Sharks lead looked hard to come back from, especially as the ball rarely saw the Bulldogs half of the ground for three quarters.
Sabrina Traub-Frederick’s strong performance stood out for the Bulldogs as a key influence, alongside team mate Larissa Bennell who arguably had one of the best second halves of her career by kicking multiple goals and driving her team forward. Though she goaled to open the third term to bring the Sharks halftime lead back to 10 points, the Sharks got one back moments later and eventually won the quarter.
With one quarter to go, South were down by 21 points, having only scored 16 points across three quarters of football. They came out firing as the Bulldogs owned the final quarter, exerting a surge of commitment, class and grit to kick four unanswered goals. The Bulldogs utilised their opportunities up forward and improved in kicking efficiency, strong efforts around contests, and hardness for the ball.
They powered through, with their four final quarter majors beginning with Traub-Frederick’s impressive contested mark and goal fifty metres out. Not only did South now have the momentum, but as the rain again began to pour down, the home crowd became as vocal and energetic as ever. It was all white and red from there on in. Tara Morgan’s textbook tackle, and win of a free kick minutes before the final siren proved a pivotal moment and summarised her side’s determination for the win. With minutes to go South were only a single point behind, but scored a behind to level the scores, until (with less than two minutes on the clock) Larissa Bennell added to her tally of three goals by scoring her fourth, and consequently, the match winner.
It was one for the history books, and one of the highlight nail bitters of season 2016. Despite South Fremantle’s heroic win, they still sit in fourth spot on the ladder behind the third placed Sharks. East Fremantle have an opportunity to bounce back with their round 15 clash with the fifth placed Thunderbirds, whilst South Fremantle have a chance to back up their win by taking their winning confidence into next week’s game against second placed Swan Districts.
QUARTER BY QUARTER:
SOUTH FREMANTLE: 1.1 (7) 1.3 (9) 2.4 (16) 6.7 (43)
EAST FREMANTLE: 2.2 (14) 3.6 (24) 5.7 (37) 5.7 (37)
Goal Kickers: L. Bennell 4, S. Traub-Frederick, E. Humble
Goal Kickers: J. Beechey 2, R. Schleicher, M. Caulfield, C. Davidson
Article: Sandra Argese