Monday, June 19, 2017 - 3:02 PM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth again struggled against South Fremantle losing to the Bulldogs for a fifth straight time but the Falcons remain clear in third position and can further consolidate that by bouncing back on Saturday.

The Bulldogs came into the clash with the Falcons having lost three of their last four matches to only be clinging to second position still. 

That spot went on the line at HBF Arena on Saturday with West Perth looking to leapfrog South Fremantle, but once again the Bulldogs showed their recent dominance over the Falcons and their enjoyment of playing at the Joondalup venue.

South Fremantle dominated the first half leading by as much as 56 points before going on to win 16.15 (111) to 10.4 (64).

It was the fifth straight win for South Fremantle over West Perth with the Bulldogs having won six of their last seven games as well at HBF Arena on top of 17 of 26 in history since the Falcons made the move for the 1994 season.

West Perth remains a game clear in third position despite the loss and still having a game in hand on the top two teams.

West Perth's defenders did reasonably well against South Fremantle's dangerous forwards considering the Bulldogs had 64 inside-50 entries. Ben King did well limiting Ben Saunders to one goal and seven kicks while Mark Hamilton did well on Mason Shaw while having 16 possessions and six marks himself.

West Perth's forwards didn’t have a lot of opportunities with just 32 entries inside-50. But Tyler Keitel did well to kick another four goals from 18 possessions and eight marks. Nick Rodda also kicked two goals for the Falcons after going forward in the second half.

Shane Nelson racked up another 33 possessions for West Perth, Luke Meadows 32 (10 inside 50s, seven tackles) and Aaron Black 30 (eight tackles). Captain Jay van Berlo also had 18 possessions.

It took almost seven minutes for the first goal of the game between the two teams with second spot on the line and it went the way of Saunders when he was able to get out the back and run into the open goal.

West Perth responded soon after when Keitel kicked his first of the day after the Falcons had applied some good pressure to force a turnover inside its forward 50.

But two goals in a minute in time-on for the Bulldogs from Haiden Schloithe and Dylan Main saw South Fremantle take a 15-point advantage into quarter-time.

It was then all South Fremantle in the second quarter with the pressure of the visitors immense leaving West Perth unable to escape its defensive 50. Subsequently turnover after turnover went back over their heads and the Bulldogs put together a match-winning quarter.

Shaw, Steve Verrier, Blaine Johnson, Schloithe, Main and then Schloithe again all kicked goals for the Bulldogs as they led by 49 points at half-time with West Perth's only goal coming just prior to the siren through Joe Morrow.

Things again looked ominous when the Bulldogs got the first goal of the third quarter from Cory Dell'Olio, but West Perth was able to steady and kicked the next two goals through Keitel on both occasions.

Once more it was Schloithe and Main responded for South Fremantle to put the lead back out beyond nine goals before the Falcons finished off the third term with goals to Steve Potente and Rodda to be within 43 points at the last change.

It was four goals apiece in the last quarter and West Perth had managed to get on level pegging with South Fremantle, but the damage had been done and the Bulldogs cruised to the 47-point victory to move back to being a game clear in second spot.

The day began at HBF Arena with the colts contest with West Perth claiming the 7.8 (50) to 5.10 (40) victory.

Lachlan Johns kicked three goals for West Perth with Alec Johnson booting two.

Johns also gathered 16 possessions for the Falcons, Johnson 15, Dylan Yem 14, Bailey Chalmers 12 and Thomas Boyes 12.

Then in the reserves contest at HBF Arena, South Fremantle responded to a challenge by West Perth in the third quarter to kick away with five goals to one in the last term to win 14.8 (92) to 9.9 (63).

Max Alexander kicked two goals for West Perth to go with 13 possessions and seven inside-50 entries.

Chris Keunen gathered form and fitness in the ruck with 12 possessions, 51 hit outs and a goal while Aidan Lynch picked up 28 disposals, Nick Marinovich 18, Joshua Hatch 17, Dylan Campbell 17 and James Batterham 16.

West Perth looks to bounce back up against Claremont at Claremont Oval on Saturday in the Falcons' first trip to the redeveloped venue since winning the 2013 second semi-final on the way to the premiership.

WEST PERTH            1.1    2.3    6.4    10.4    (64)
SOUTH FREMANTLE        3.4    9.10    12.11    16.15    (111)

WEST PERTH – Goals: Keitel 4; Rodda 2; Chalmers, Morrow, Potente, Moulton.
Best: King, Hamilton, Keitel, Meadows, Nelson, Black.
SOUTH FREMANTLE – Goals: Schloithe, Main 4; Dell'Olio, Johnson, Shaw 2; Saunders, S Verrier.
Best: Main, Schloithe, Higgins, Kelly, Pickett, Edwards, B Verrier.