A lacklustre fourth quarter effort saw the Fremantle Dockers dash their hopes of stealing North Melbourne’s top eight spot at AAMI Stadium on Sunday, but they still prevailed with a 11.9.(75)-6.12.(48) win against Port Adelaide.
Needing a huge score to sneak past the Kangaroos, the Dockers dropped the ball, figuratively speaking, in the final term and allowed Port to make up for lost ground. Despite that, Fremantle played a sound defensive game and used a strong breeze to set up their lead in the first and third quarters.
Nat Fyfe’s return to AFL football was the other talking point of the game. The midfielder made a very successful comeback with a team-high 26 disposals in an impressive first half after requiring shoulder surgery earlier this season.
Michael Barlow was also good with 24 disposals while Luke McPharlin and Paull Duffield made their presence felt in the backline. Clancee Pearce and captain Matthew Pavlich were impressive up forward with two goals apiece.
Fremantle used a strong breeze to kick the opening five goals. Mayne nabbed both of those in the early stages and Fyfe started strong to set Pavlich up with an easy set shot. Brett Ebert finally produced Port’s breakthrough goal with two and a half minutes remaining in the first term, but they’d fail to add a second in the second quarter, and as a result produced their lowest halftime total ever, a weak nine points.
In the third it became clear based on the tempo of the game that nothing would top the excitement level of Mayne’s ridiculous second quarter mark (above), but Pavlich stood strong to take a number of contested marks and kick a second goal from the square, Fremantle’s fifth from a Port turnover.
But Port experienced a resurgence of sorts in the fourth and kicked four goals, one more than they kicked during the first three quarters to close the gap and damage the Dockers’ percentage hopes. Their defensive wall around the middle of the ground limited the Dockers to just two shots on goal in the quarter as Ebert kicked his second and Boak kicked an impressive goal from the pocket.
Captain Pavlich was seen having a stern chat to his squad after the match, letting them know that their two shots on goal in the final quarter was not up to par.