SOUTH Fremantle hits the road again after two straight Friday night matches at Fremantle Oval to take on Swan Districts this Saturday at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval.
The Bulldogs have opened the 2014 season with losses to Subiaco, Perth and East Perth so head to the Bassendean venue desperate to open their account with a victory.
Swan Districts, on the other hand, have opened its season with an 18-point loss to East Perth and then last week a 35-point victory over Peel Thunder at home.
South Fremantle also needs to get over a seven-game losing run against Swan Districts with the Bulldogs last win over the black-and-whites coming back in Round 5, 2011 at Steel Blue Oval by 24 points.
Swans have won the seven matches between the two sides since then by an average of over 27 points a game.
South Fremantle is still without AFL-experienced big man James Sellar due to a knee injury with Alistair Gillespie out suspended and Paul Mugambwa still on the sidelines with an injury as well.
The Bulldogs will need Brock Higgins to continue to step up in the ruck as he did up against Paul Johnson and Scott Lycett last Friday night for East Perth.
Josh Pullman and Ben Saunders will also need to make an impact up forward. The two key forwards have only kicked eight goals between them over the first three rounds, but are both capable of kicking big bags on their day.
The match will also be noteworthy as it will be Pullman's first game back at Steel Blue Oval against Swan Districts since he returned to the WAFL this year to play with South Fremantle after previously captaining Swans' colts to a premiership, and playing 23 league matches.
South Fremantle's key defenders such as Dylan Ross, Nick Borovac, Steve Mills and the recalled Zac Strom will also have their work cut out against Tony Notte, Tim Geappen and last week's eight-goal hero Ricky Cary.
However, if South Fremantle's midfield led by Ashton Hams, Ryan Cook, Haiden Schloithe, Tim Kelly, Jacob Martinez, Kris Miller, Shaun Bewick, Brendan Verrier and Steven Verrier, suddenly that becomes much less of a problem.
Adam McIntosh is also out of the Bulldogs team to take on Swan Districts with Toby Bairstow, James Laurino, Ben Sokol, Strom and Traye Bennell all in the mix to come in.
There is little reason for change for a Swan Districts team who has surprised many with its start to the season.
Many predicted Swan Districts to be the big sliders in 2014 with a host of key players leaving, but somebody forgot to tell the leaders remaining at Steel Blue Oval, and a strong band of youngsters coming through.
Swans opened their season leading East Perth for three quarters in Round 2 before losing by 18 points, and then after trailing Peel Thunder by 34 points early in the third quarter on Saturday, turned on some inspired and exciting football.
Swan Districts went on to kick 11 of the last 12 goals of the game to win by 35 points.
With Justin Simpson, Matt Riggio and Ryan Davis leading the way, Adam Faulkner, Kirk Ugle, Matt Rogers, Blaine Boekhorst and Nathan Blakely standing up, and Ricky Cary a surprise packet up forward, there is plenty of excitement around Bassendean for Swan Districts looking to the rest of 2014.
Swans coach Greg Harding has noted that South Fremantle can cough up some big scores, but knows it's not necessarily easy to take advantage of that.
"The key to exposing their back half is getting somewhere near them through the middle. We still see South Fremantle as having a wonderful midfield brigade with the likes of Cook, Schloithe, Miller and obviously Ashton Hams, and they are still one of the best midfields in the competition," Harding said.
"If they win it through there, you can't get enough inside 50s to test their back half. It has been documented that they have been coughing up lots of goals and they are a club who is 0-3, and when people start to write you off that can steel a playing group.
"They are going to be up for the fight and we need to get somewhere near them through the midfield, and if we can do that then I think the way our forward half is functioning with Tony Notte, Tim Geappen, Cary, Rogers, Aidan Anderson and Rogers, then I think we can have another really strong day."
T Bairstow, M Banks, T Bennell, M Bolger, S Borovac, M Carter, E Collard, A Collica, J D'Vauz, A Galliano, M Gundry, J Hall, L Harvey, C Hayden, K Hogan, T Kelly, J Louthean, L Lucev, S Mills, M Nicholson, N Olds, S Panizza, J Pantano, J Parry, J Sgherza, B Sokol, T Stewart, J Symmans, J Tartaglia, M Walley
B Colbung, B Collier, J Culleton, J Depane, B Donaldson, B Fimmano, J Florenca, J Foster, M Grubelich, B Kersten, C Loersch, B Matera, J McComb, G McLeod, J McMaster, J Mirco, D Moore, A Nodari, L Pearson, C Salmon, N Strom, T Wheeler, S Williamson
By Chris Pike