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Round 21 Preview v South Fremantle

Friday, August 27, 2021 - 4:35 PM

SWAN Districts is guaranteed of playing finals in 2021, are refreshed from a bye and ready to tackle the reigning premiers South Fremantle on Saturday with an eye to finishing higher than fifth position come the end of the season.

Swan Districts were impressive beating East Perth two weeks ago at Steel Blue Oval by 41 points to secure a first WAFL finals appearance since 2017, and the first with Adam Pickering in charge as senior coach.

The bye last week allowed Swans to freshen up and take stock of things with two rounds of the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season remaining and to gear up for these last two games away to South Fremantle and Claremont.

It's the ideal finals preparation for the black-and-whites to get ready by taking on two fellow finals bound teams and knowing there's plenty at stake.

Two wins and a top three finish is right within reach for Swan Districts which would secure them a finals double chance, or even finishing fourth would provide a home elimination final.

Not only did Swans beat East Perth prior to the bye, but before that they beat Peel Thunder by 52 points and have won five of the past seven matches to secure their return to finals action in 2021.

Swan Districts coach Adam Pickering was happy with the timing of the bye last weekend to allow them a chance to get ready for these huge last two games against the Bulldogs and Tigers, and then their finals assault.

"It actually came at a really good time for us for two reasons. We had a really good win against East Perth to secure a finals spot so we were able to relax for a few days to embrace and enjoy that we had been able to extend our season officially," Pickering told 91.3 SportFM.

"And a few of the older guys were able to put their feet up and not train as hard, and get some niggles out and maybe even take a night off without having a game on the weekend where they get bashed and crashed around. We felt the bye came at a really good time for our group."

Swan Districts might be fresh off a bye and in good recent form, but they do face a stern challenge on Saturday against South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

South Fremantle has enjoyed life in recent times against Swan Districts with the Bulldogs having won eight consecutive matches against the black-and-whites, including by 36 points at Steel Blue Oval back in Round 15 this season.

Those eight straight wins for South Fremantle have come at an average of 38.5 points as well including a couple of wins over 80 points along the way.

The last time Swan Districts played finals saw them eliminated by South Fremantle as well with the Bulldogs winning the first semi-final in 2017 by 80 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

The last win for Swans against the Bulldogs was Round 2, 2017 when they won by 21 points at Steel Blue Oval. Their last win at the port was way back on Round 13, 2014 with South Fremantle having won the last seven homes matches against them by an average of 39.3 points.

From the Swan Districts team that beat East Perth two weeks ago, Lewis Jetta returns for the black-and-whites with Jacob Sideris, Jack O'Sullivan, Callum Garcia and Tom Edwards added to the squad while Matt Riggio is the only out from the squad at this stage.

Coach Pickering is looking forward to the challenge of trying to beat South Fremantle for the first time in his coaching career.

"We have to win the midfield battle. Their midfield group is really deep and they've just added Florenca back into the mix who is a 30-possession type guy," Pickering said.

"Then they've got Suban, Blechynden, Schloithe, Dragovich and guys like that in there and a 200cm, 100kg guy who runs like the wind on the wing in Strom.

"Hamish Free is going really well in the ruck and they bat really deep in the midfield, and if they get on top and get the ball in their half then you have to deal with three big guys Shaw, Schlensog and Miller, and the forwards on the ground Donaldson, Ninyette and Kelly.

"South are pretty deep but we feel if we can win the midfield battle and get it in our half that our forward-line can trouble their back-line.

"But it will be won in the midfield and they are a great team without any weak links, that's why they are the reigning premiers and pushing for a top two or three spot at the moment. It will be a battle of attrition for two hours really but won in the midfield and whoever breaks first will probably lose the game."



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Radio: 91.3 SportFM