Curley confident of Bulldogs bounce back
South Fremantle coach Todd Curley believes his side has what it takes to respond from a poor second semi-final performance against Claremont to qualify for the 2020 WAFL Grand Final, ahead of a preliminary final against his old club West Perth on Sunday.
The Bulldogs went goalless through the opening half against the Tigers on their way to a 47 point defeat that leaves them fighting for survival in the final series.
Curley, a three-time premiership player and former coach at the Falcons now needs a response from his playing group if they are to progress to a second straight WAFL Grand Final.
“Claremont were too good.” Curley said on Sports Drive on Wednesday.
“We think there’s a couple of clear areas we can fix pretty quick. That will be our focus tomorrow at our main session and heading in to Sunday.”
South Fremantle has now lost it’s past two matches, having suffered a 5 point loss to Perth in round 9 leading in to it’s semi-final shocker against the Tigers.
Curley made no excuses for the loss.
“There was probably nothing they showed that they haven’t showed us before, they were just too good. They beat us around the contest, their pressure was very good and we didn’t deal from it very well,” he said.
“From a positive, we didn’t feel like we fired a shot and to be still be within a couple of goals ten minutes in to the last quarter was probably pretty flattering for us to be honest.
“We had a fair few senior boys down, they have been pretty consistent and they’re pretty resilient and proud, so I’m sure they will bounce back this week.”
The Bulldogs were without key players Jake Florenca and Kade Stewart for the match against Claremont, with Curley failing to guarantee they would return in time for Sunday’s game with the Falcons.
“We’re hopeful. They did a bit of running last night and ticked off the boxes they need to, but it will really be what they can do tomorrow night at the main training session and how they pull up,” he said.
“They have been really important players for us all year. We can’t take injured players in to finals, so we will give them right up until Sunday.
“They will have to tick the boxes the medicos want them to do tomorrow night and then they can progress from there. We will leave it to our medical staff, if they say they are available they will play.”
The 47 year old, who also played AFL football with Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs was wary of West Perth’s quality, having lost a preliminary final to the same opponent at the same venue in 2018.
“They are a really even team, don’t rely on any individuals and got a really experienced, consistent solid midfield that always play well,” Curley said.
“They have some key targets down forward that can really catch it and put you under pressure and some dangerous smalls down there as well.
“They have a backline that has been somewhat unheralded but has done a great job in the last two years since Geoff (Valentine) has been back there.
“I think they are a really even unit, well coached and well organised and play with great spirit. If we don’t bring that same intensity and spirit we are going to be in a lot of trouble.”
Facing a straight sets exit having finished the home and away season as a minor premier, Curley said his playing group was feeling the pressure of the occasion in such a unique year, with a Grand Final at Fremantle Oval on the line.
“We haven’t spoken about it as a group, I haven’t heard any chat about it to be honest,” he said.
“It’s something we don’t have any say in, it’s fantastic for the City of Fremantle in what’s been a tough year for everyone. For the businesses and people of Freo, for our supporters and our footy club it’s a fantastic opportunity.
“But where we play we don’t really care, and we haven’t really thought about the Grand Final to be honest.”
“Nothing changes for us. We’re focused on winning this week and hopefully once that job’s over we’ll tick over and start thinking about the week ahead. We’ve got a lot of improvement and a lot of work to do in the next 4-5 days to get that done.”
Sunday’s match against West Perth will start at 3:35 PM, with 91.3 Sport FM’s broadcast starting at 3:00 PM.
IMAGE: The West Australian.