Dockers Modest Win Keeps Finals Fire Flickering
By Tim Stone, AFANA Reporter in Perth
Fremantle have kept their 2006 campaign alive with a 37 point victory over the cellar dwellers in Essendon in front 34,000 supporters on a Friday night at Subi. A less than convincing win would be the best way to describe Fremantles answer to their critics. Blundered opportunities from the Dons marred what was realistically a very even contest.
The performance given will not sit well with a Dockers outfit which is lead by Chris Connolly. While the win was welcomed, breaking a three game losing streak, this season is do or die for not only Connolly's career but for many loyal supporters who are demanding results.
Breaking a 3 game losing streak with this win over Essendon has kept the Dockers season alive in 9th place. With a for/against of 87% and a game behind Richmond, St Kilda and Sydney, they also must contend with Geelong who is in form and only 1 game adrift.
The game was marred by fights, starting before the umpire had even started the game. The ball was bounced with five players per side in the square, both sides breaching the 3-man-per-side rule, a clear sign the umpires wanted to get the game rolling and players focused on the live ball.
The first goal was as exciting as the opening scuffle, an unmanned forward 50 had Pavlich bombing the ball from 70 metres towards the goal, with two Dockers leading a hotly contested foot race to the rolling ball. Crowley goaled off the ground to light the game up and set what was to be the tempo of the first quarter.
It didn't take long for the fights to continue. Matthew Carr goaled, which sparked a heated scrap between players. Tempers exploded as Lovett-Murray threw a haymaker at Michael Johnson who went down like a felled tree. His brother in Josh Carr was swift in retribution as he came to his brother's aid to seek vengeance on the attack.
Lovett-Murray went into the umpires book, and Matthew Carr got an additional shot on goalm which he missed. After only 2 minutes it was already threatening to blow open with the Dockers 13 points up and the Bombers players clearly agitated by the relentless Dockers scrapping.
The Bombers hit back quickly with two of their own. Monfries and Johns both goaled and were pivotal in stemming the flow of the game. However it was all in vain as the Dockers piled on the next 5 in a row.
Pavlich notched up his first, Murphy landed two in a row, and when Peter Bell goaled on the run off balance, and on his opposite foot, it seemed the only benefit Essendon were going to see from this road trip was the frequent flyer miles.
The Dockers piled on 7 goals to 3 in their best first quarter for the year.
The second quarter was a polar opposite. A scrappy affair of fumbles, flooding and inaccuracy saw the Bombers put on 2.6. Johns hit the post twice, and the scoreboard would have read worse if not for some scoring shots not worthy of registering a score.
A quarter that belonged to The Bombers should have had them at level pegging going into half time.
The inaccuracy of Johns was the most noted performance of the quarter. With 5 scoring shots and only one major, his accuracy resembled that of someone kicking into a gale force breeze. It was the effect of this inaccuracy that saw them go into the half 16 points adrift of a hot and cold Dockers outfit.
Just as the game seized up, the flow was restored. Both teams opened up their run, seemingly playing to their favoured ends as they swapped ends after the break. Both coaches allowed players to push forward and attack, the scoreboard getting a workover as a result.
Monfries goaled to give the Dons the start they needed, however the game quickly escalated out of control for Bombers as Murphy, Pavlich and Black all goaled on the run in an assault that saw 5 unanswered goals piled on, leaving the Bombers a daunting 45 points off the pace.
Not to be outdone, Essendon hit back just before the final break with Johns finding his range and kicking third, sparking a 3 goal surge in as many minutes to keep them in touch.
The final quarter never troubled the Dockers. The game was iced as they played simular football to the second quarter, strangling any additional momentum that was generated in the final minutes of the third. A four goal to two stanza saw the Dockers tally up their highest score for the season, while Essendon were left to lament their 13th straight loss, a feat that has not been accomplished by any Essendon side since the 1920's.
Fremantles prospects look plentiful going forward, with Murphy, Pavlich and Crowley all kicking 4 goals, while McPharlin is set to return from injury next week to face Collingwood. Essendons injury woes will only get worse, with Johns, Monfries and Fletcher all coming off early due to injury, and look certain to join the likes of Lloyd and Hird on the sideline.
Lovett-Murray with most certainly face suspension meaning their nightmare season will almost certainly continue for the remainder of the year.
FREMANTLE:7.3 8.5 15.7 19.11 (125)
ESSENDON: 3.1 5.7 10.11 12.16 (88)
Fremantle: Murphy 4, Crowley 4, Pavlich 4, Longmuir 2, M Carr,
Sandilands, Bell, Schammer, Black
Essendon: Johns 3, Monfries 2, J Johnson 2, M Johnson, Bolton,
McVeigh, McPhee, Lucas
Fremantle: Pavlich, Crowley, Murphy, McManus, Hayden, Haselby, Dodd, Cook
Essendon: J Johnson, Camporeale, Stanton, Welsh, Johns, M Johnson
Fremantle: J Carr (Calf strain), Medhurst (calf)
Essendon: Johns (ribs), Monfries (calf), Fletcher (back)
REPORTS - Essendon: Lovett-Murray reported for striking M Carr
in the first quarter by umpires Woodcock and Meredith
UMPIRES - Meredith, Woodcock, Goldspink
CROWD - 34,608 at Subiaco
Article last changed on Sunday, July 23, 2006 - 8:40 PM EDT