BRAVE TIGERS PIPPED BY BULLDOGS

Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 8:48 AM

BY DAN SCAMOZZI 

Claremont suffered a heartbreaking three-point defeat against South Fremantle in a fierce grand final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday, with the Bulldogs prevailing in fine conditions.

167 tackles were laid during a brutal and seesawing contest, with the Bulldogs hanging on to win, 6.10 (46) to 6.7 (43).

The devastating defeat will sting the brave Tigers, who will learn from it and return bigger and better in 2021.

In-form forward Alec Waterman kicked a game-high three goals and threatened to be the difference between the teams, however, the Bulldogs’ grunt and aerial prowess set up their victory.

Star midfielder Jye Bolton (game-high 35 disposals, game-high seven inside 50s) shook off heavy attention from the opposition to produce a herculean performance and win the Simpson Medal, while consistent defenders Haydn Busher and Jack Lewsey also gave the Tigers great service.

Powerful midfielder Dec Mountford laid a game-high 11 tackles, while inspirational captain Kane Mitchell, who dislocated his shoulder in the opening 10 minutes of the game, bravely returned to the field and did everything he could to will his beloved team to victory.

South Fremantle forward Zac Strom (six marks, two goals) provided a constant headache for the Tigers with his strong hands, while Bulldogs captain Dylan Main also performed strongly.

Forward Anton Hamp and defender Dylan Smallwood came into the Claremont team that defeated the Bulldogs at the same venue 14 days earlier, as Mitchell elected to kick to the northern end of the ground in the opening term.

A downfield free kick enabled Strom to kick the opening goal, before Mitchell was slung to the ground in a heavy tackle and assisted from the field with a dislocated shoulder.

Lewsey and fellow small defender Tom Baldwin then hauled in strong marks to deny the Bulldogs, before Waterman split the middle after receiving a pass from midfielder Rylie Morgan.

Mitchell then returned to the field, much to the delight of the Tiger Army, before the teams headed to the quarter-time break level at 1.1 (7).

Small forward Brandon Donaldson gave the Bulldogs a seven-point lead when he kicked the opening goal of the second term, before Waterman split the middle from 55m after receiving a centre clearance from Harry McCracken.

As was the case in the opening term, neither team could manage more than one goal, as the Bulldogs took a three-point lead at half-time.

The Tigers began the second half with defender Dec Hardisty moving forward, however, goals to Strom and Main gave the Bulldogs a game-high 15-point lead. 

Bolton then delivered a spearing pass inside 50 to Alex Manuel, who handballed to Cal England for the Tigers’ third goal, before wingman Ben Edwards snapped truly after gathering the crumbs off the pack.

South Fremantle’s Caleb Datson then pinged his hamstring while in pursuit of the ball on the far side of the ground, before Waterman snapped his third goal to give the Tigers a two-point lead at the final change.

Goals to Mason Shaw and Jimmy Miller gave the Bulldogs a nine-point lead approaching the 20-minute mark of the final term, before Hardisty replied with an opportunistic snap from the pocket.

However, despite the desperate Tigers pushing hard for victory, the Bulldogs held on for a tense win.

CLAREMONT 1.1 2.4 5.6 6.7 (43)

SOUTH FREMANTLE 1.1 2.7 4.10 6.10 (46)

GOALS

CLAREMONT: 3 A. Waterman, 1 C. England, B. Edwards, D. Hardisty.

SOUTH FREMANTLE: 2 Z. Strom, 1 B. Donaldson, D. Main, M. Shaw, J. Miller.

BEST

CLAREMONT: J. Bolton, A. Waterman, H. Busher, J. Lewsey.

SOUTH FREMANTLE: Z. Strom, D. Main.