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SWFLW 2022: South Bunbury find a way off the canvas against bitter rival

The South Bunbury women’s team have won three premierships, set scoring records and enjoyed extended passages of time unbeaten.

But Sunday’s 2.6 (18) to 1.4 (10) win over old rivals Bunbury at Payne Park is arguably their finest ever moment in the competition, given what Tigers players had to deal with off-field leading into the game with the resignation of beloved coach Maxwell Jetta for personal reasons.

In a nutshell, Bunbury threw everything at the Tigers for three quarters — they were hard at the ball, forced South Bunbury players into uncharacteristic mistakes and looked brilliant in the corridor.

But all these dominating factors were still not potent enough to keep South down for the count.

Aside from several talking points on the field — including the 9.40am start time, absorbing positional battles and the Bulldogs electing to isolate Shana-Lee Beardman at full forward — off-field matters will also likely dominate discussion in the South West community over the coming days.

An overwhelming majority of Tigers players chose to wear Indigenous face paint for the clash, an idea which was raised by the team’s Indigenous players in the lead up to the game.

South Bunbury skipper Bethany Bond said this decision was warmly supported by all players, who also lined up prior to the game and took a knee.

Additionally, the team posed for a picture wearing black T-shirts in support of outgoing Indigenous coach Jetta, who resigned earlier in the week for personal reasons.

For the majority of this intense battle, Bunbury dominated general play and looked capable of putting their neighbours out of business by half-time.

Former Tigers midfielder Kloe Bassett had the ball on a string against her former teammates, who naturally appeared a little flat at times, given their tough build-up.

However the Bulldogs were unable to translate this dominance into meaningful scoreboard pressure and once South got a sniff, they pulled to within striking distance in a matter of minutes.

For all of their hard work in the opening three quarters, Bunbury appeared to be out of petrol, creativity and ideas on how to topple the reigning premiers.

A late Kate Fielding goal off a solid counterattack move ensured the Tigers secured arguably their finest victory in the history of the women’s competition and left the Bulldogs likely wondering what more they can do to beat them later in the season.

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