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Classy Dockers Tame Tigers

Josh Treacy (file photo/AFANA)

On a cold, wet, and blustery night with winds gusting up to forty-four miles per hour, the Fremantle Dockers showed their class to defeat the desperate Richmond Tigers. The win enabled the Dockers to maintain third position on the ladder and edge closer to the top two teams Sydney and Carlton. The loss consigned Richmond to the bottom of the ladder, but they didn't go down without a fight. The omens weren't good for the Tigers when their team banner was shredded by the wind before they could run through it to enter the field. Undeterred, they started the game brightly with early goals to Shai Bolton and Toby Nankervis. The Tigers' defense withstood early Docker attacks through stong marking (catching) or spoiling Docker attempts to mark. Defenders Nathan Broad and Ben Miller did well early for the Tigers, but second-gamer Jacob Blight was out of his depth on Josh Treacy.

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Dockers Deny Determined Suns

Andrea Brayshaw (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The Fremantle Dockers held off the determined Gold Coast Suns in a desperate battle for a position in the top eight. The game was crucial to both teams who were outside the top eight at the start of play. The twenty-point win elevated the Dockers into fifth position on the ladder and pushed the Suns down to twelfth. The Suns started the game with a sense of urgency. In the first ten minutes they had won more contested possessions and made more forward entries than the Dockers to have two early goals on the board to big forwards Sam Day and Jack Lukosius. Sam Rowell was powerful at center bounces and along with Noah Anderson, gave the visitors early use of the ball. Heath Chapman defended well for the Dockers to stop several Sun incursions. After the two Sun goals, the Dockers increased the pressure at stoppages. Caleb Serong, Sean Darcy, and Andrew Brayshaw won more clearances. The game flowed from end to end with open play, good kicking and marking (catching) a highlight.

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Dockers and Magpies in a Thriller

Drawn game (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The Fremantle Dockers and the Collingwood Magpies played out a dramatic draw in front of a heaving crowd of 54,035 at Optus Stadium. The contest wasn't spectacular but was a dour struggle of tough contested football where neither team was prepared to give an inch. The undermanned Magpies picked up two more injuries during the match (Mason Cox and Brody Mihocek), but the team fought to the very end against a desperate home side. The Dockers jumped the Magpies early, locking the ball in their forward half with the assistance strong defensive marks (catches) by their captain Alex Pearce. After three minutes of play, Fremantle forward Josh Treacy received a free kick for a high tackle and threaded the needle from the boundary, to give the home team a positive start. Two minutes later the Magpies transitioned the ball from defense finishes with slick handpasses from Bobby Hill and Patrick Lipinski which resulted in a clever goal by youngster Harvey Harrison. Three minutes later the Dockers pushed forward to a marking contest in their goal square, where wingman Jeremy Sharp swooped in for an opportunistic soccer-style goal when the ball came off hands. Three minutes later the Dockers brought the ball from defense with Andrew Brayshaw on the end of a chain of possessions and he finished with a polished a running goal from forty meters.

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Accurate Swans Punish Offline Dockers

Florent kicks (file photo/AFANA)

The Sydney Swans strengthened their position at the top of the ladder with an eight-goal victory over the inaccurate Fremantle Dockers. The Dockers matched Sydney in the midfield with good clearance work but were inefficient in attack. At the other end Sydney were ruthless and kicked accurately to punish any Docker turnovers. The pressure applied by both teams was strong with tackling from both sides a feature of the match. Sydney's Brodie Grundy dominated in the ruck, but the Dockers got first use of the ball through the strong clearance work of Andrew Brayshaw, Luke Jackson, and Caleb Sorong. As the game progressed Chad Warner, Errol Gulden, and James Rowbottom became more involved in play to cement the early good work of the Sydney forwards.

The game started with four forward entries by the Dockers for just two behinds (worth a point each).  After ten minutes of the Dockers dominating the midfield, Sydney broke through to launch an attack through with a snapped goal by Logan McDonald. Five minutes later Will Hayward booted the Swans second goal when the Docker defenders were caught out of position. Sydney's pressure on the ball then generated a forward-half intercept and Jake Lloyd goaled. The Dockers booted their first goal after an intercept in their own forward half and some fancy footwork by defender Brandon Walker, who kicked truly.

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Dockers Even Hotter Than Hot Dogs

Fyfe Weaves (file photo/AFANA)

The Western Bulldogs have been hot and cold this year. At Optus Stadium they were hot, but they met a group of Dockers who were stinging from a loss to West Coast the week before. The two desperate teams, with three wins each, put on a thrilling display of everything that Australian football should be. Kicking skills came to the fore as players passed with precision. High marking contests thrilled at each end of the ground and play transitioned with lighting speed from defense into attack. The tackling from both sides was brutal and the pressure on the ball carriers was relentless.

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Eagles Shock Dockers

Elliot Yeo (file photo/AFANA)

The West Coast Eagles shocked an out-of-sorts Fremantle Dockers. They defeated the match favorites by applying pressure at the ball and using direct attacks into a well-organized forward line. The Dockers appeared jaded after two games on the road where they lost narrowly to Carlton and Port Adelaide. The Eagles built on last week's comprehensive victory over the wounded Richmond Tigers to record consecutive victories for the first time since 2021. The addition of number 1 draft pick Harley Reid, combined with an injury-free and resurgent Elliot Yeo, has provided the Eagles with the midfield strength they have lacked for three years. Their clean delivery into the forward line enabled Jack Darling to feature more prominently; however, it is the re-emergence of full-forward Jake Waterman that is the big story of their forward line. The Dockers were due to have a poor game after playing intense pressure football for the first five weeks of the season. However, nobody expected such a sudden drop in form.

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AFANA's Who's Hot and Who's Not

Welcome to AFANA’s new column where we look around the league to check in on which players are dominating and who is struggling as the new season starts to take shape. With all teams heading to sunny South Australia for the AFL’s second iteration of “gather round”, these are the names you want to keep an eye on as they are currently the difference makers for your favorite teams.

HOT:

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Dockers Keep Crows Winless

Hayden Young (file photo/AFANA)

The Fremantle Dockers defeated the desperate Adelaide Crows in a Good Friday game that was anything but good for the struggling Crows. The Crows, who were robbed of a place in the finals last year by a goal umpiring error that could not be corrected, are now winless from three starts. In contrast, the Dockers have made their best start in nine years. The game was a tense struggle for three-and-a-bit quarters before Fremantle broke free of the Adelaide pressure, to hammer home four final-quarter goals to the delight of the record non-derby crowd of fifty-one thousand raucous fans. (Ed. note: "Derby" games against the other local team, the West Coast Eagles, are usually close to a sell-out.)

In near perfect conditions the game started at a cracking pace. Adelaide was the first to score a goal (worth six points) after bringing the ball deep from defense, using a quick transition to the running Ben Keays. Both teams missed gettable shots on goal in the first quarter, which set the pattern for the rest of the night. Michael Walters benefitted from a quick transition from a kick in when Nat Fyfe and Hayden Young combined to move the ball to Walters who kicked truly. Two minutes later, Ned McHenry was tackled high in the right forward pocket. His free kick gave the Crows their second goal. A similar free kick to Matt Taberner at the other end gave the Dockers their second goal. The quarter was notable for the end-to-end transitions by both teams, as the defenders thrived in the pressure. The quarter finished with frenetic defense by the Crows as they successfully held out the Dockers in the last line.

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Wounded Dockers Control Lions

Serong marks (file photo / AFANA)

The Fremantle Dockers overwhelmed the Brisbane Lions to register a gutsy win against the shocked Brisbane Lions. The win comes at a cost of three injuries to the Dockers but fueled their self-belief as their undermanned team held off the Lions. The Lions started with a hot opening quarter and appeared determined to atone for their shock loss to Carlton in Brisbane. Forwards Eric Hipwood and Joe Daniher were mobile and flying for Brisbane early. Hipwood had a mark and goal within three minutes of the opening bounce. Their midfielders Josh Dunkley, Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry, and Cam Rayner kept the ball alive with repeated entries into the Brisbane forward line. The flustered Dockers fumbled the ball early and brain fades gave away two easy goals to Brisbane, to send shivers through the partisan home crowd.

When Zac Bailey booted their fourth goal after a turnover from yet another wayward Docker kick, it looked very much a game between last year's second-best team against last year's fourteenth placed team. Alex Pearce and Luke Ryan became a steadying factor in the Dockers' defense and the Docker midfielders Caleb Serong, Andrew Brayshaw, and Nat Fyfe lifted their work rates to shut down the feed to the Brisbane forward line. Even though the midfield battle had evened, the Dockers continued to butcher their attacking entries through poor kicking. After twenty-seven minutes of inept play, the Dockers made a tentative foray from defense which resulted in Bailey Banfield gathering a ball in a pack and kicking truly. Two minutes later a perfect stoppage tap from Luke Jackson found Sam Switkowski who kicked the Dockers' second goal on the siren.

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Power and Bulldogs Delist Players Plus Lycett Retires

Scott Lycett Contests Mark (file photo/AFANA)

The past week provided yet more delistings and retirements. The Western Bulldogs delisted Hayden Crozier and Roarke Smith. Port Adelaide delisted Orazio Fantasia, Sam Hayes, and Jake Pasini while Scott Lycett has retired. Sam Naismith has found his way back into the AFL at Richmond.

Lycett, a former Port Adelaide SANFL player, was drafted by West Coast in 2010 and played 75 games for the Eagles, including the 2018 premiership. At the end of 2018, he moved to Port as a free agent and played a further 71 games. Port Coach Ken Hinkley said, "Scott has been an outstanding contributor for two clubs ... He was an incredible workhorse for our club during the last five seasons and was totally focused on putting his teammates first. As a former Port Adelaide junior, Scott was Port Adelaide through and through.

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