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SWFL 2022: Bunbury Bulldogs and Harvey Bulls to do battle to keep respective finals hopes alive

Headshot of Carly Laden
Carly LadenSouth Western Times
Bunbury's Jethro Barraclough drops low for the ball.
Camera IconBunbury's Jethro Barraclough drops low for the ball. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

Payne Park is set to play host to a crucial clash between two strong teams as they battle it out in a sudden death showdown for a spot in the SWFL preliminary final.

Bunbury Bulldogs and Harvey Bulls are set to face off in the first semi-final at Payne Park on Sunday.

It will be a chance for Bunbury to bounce back from last weekend’s qualifying final loss to South Bunbury.

Bunbury head coach Jamie Nani told the South Western Times his squad played “outstanding” on Sunday but ultimately ran out of steam during the last quarter.

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“In the end we just ran out of fit players with no bench and one player back on the ground that was probably only about 50 per cent fit,” he said.

“That probably took its toll on being able to run out the game and unfortunately we couldn’t hang on.

“It was a good hard game of footy.”

Nani also confirmed Jett Rigby will face an extended stint on the sidelines as he recovers from a serious compound fracture in his leg.

“It was an ugly break unfortunately,” he said.

“Jett’s had an operation and had it reset, so he’s in for a long recovery for a good young kid.”

Bunbury's Thomas Quaife latches on to Harvey's Braden Fimmano.
Camera IconBunbury's Thomas Quaife latches on to Harvey's Braden Fimmano. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

With Rigby out, along other players potentially not being able to get their fitness up after a tough game, Nani said Bunbury had been lucky with its depth and being able to replace players.

“We’ll be going out with a very strong side on the weekend to hopefully account for the Bulls,” he said.

“Harvey are a good side.

“They’re coming off some winning form so they’ll be tough to beat, but we’ll just be taking it as we did with South Bunbury last week.

“Just play a hard brand of football and hopefully that’s going to be enough to get us over the line.”

Harvey Bulls will be looking to continue their journey towards their maiden SWFL premiership after eliminating Busselton 11.4 (70) to 7.7 (49) at Bovell Park last weekend.

Harvey head coach Mark Pink hoped the Bulls’ elimination final win would continue to help rebuild the club’s reputation and have others sit up and pay attention to them.

“We were under pressure late in the second quarter and during the third quarter, but I had faith we could turn it around,” he said.

“To hold off Busselton, who were last year’s grand finallists, and finish the way we did was really exciting and pleasing.”

Harvey's Thomas Wood goes airborne to tap the ball away.
Camera IconHarvey's Thomas Wood goes airborne to tap the ball away. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

Despite Callan Eddy being a likely out with a hamstring injury, Pink said the squad did not have too many injury concerns.

“We’ll be confident going forward but also really wary of Bunbury,” he said.

“I went and watched their game last Sunday. They were very talented and they had South Bunbury on the ropes for a large part of the game.”

Pink confirmed Harley Bennell would be available for the remainder of the SWFL finals series should the Bulls progress amidst reports of Bennell signing on to move to the Northern Territory to play for the Tiwi Bombers.

“If we were to make the grand final, Harley will play that and then fly out the following week,” he said.

“We’re really excited for Harley and I think he’s going to be playing a couple of games up there with Cyril Rioli, a couple of his brothers and a few of his mates.”

Sunday’s match-up will be the third time the Bulldogs and the Bulls meet for the 2022 season, with Bunbury previously managing a 14.13 (97) to 10.11 (71) win at Harvey Oval in round four and a 6.12 (48) to 6.7 (43) win at Payne Park in round 15.

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