Janet Linn, reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
True to the words of their theme song, the Fremantle Dockers conquered the psychological hoodoo that has haunted them for the past six weeks and gave the North Melbourne Kangaroos the “old heave-ho” at Subiaco Oval on Saturday. Their 53 point thrashing of the Kangaroos was their best performance of the season so far and although it may not be enough to silence some hometown critics, it has breathed life into a club which was on the verge of imploding. During the week, coach Mark Harvey had described Fremantle as “dangerous” which raised the eyebrows of anyone who had watched recent Docker games. In retrospect, Harvey’s comment may have spurred his team on and boosted their determination to overcome consecutive final quarter fizzles. In contrast, coach Dean Bailey must be concerned by the inconsistent levels of skill and enthusiasm displayed by North Melbourne for most of the game.
It was a perfect day for football at Subiaco Oval. The first quarter was completely dominated by Fremantle. With Roger Hayden back from injury to lend pace and experience to the backline, the Dockers were able to repel the majority of forward thrusts by the Kangaroos. The Dockers tackling was ferocious and they scored first blood through Chris Tarrant who looked dangerous up forward. Aaron Sandilands had control of the ruck hitouts and small men Josh Carr, Rhys Palmer, Byron Schammer and Brett Peake were in excellent form. In spite of their high possession count, the Dockers were still prone to overuse of the ball and there were a number of suicide handballs and turnovers which gave the Kangaroos opportunities to attack. Unfortunately for the Roos, they could not penetrate past the half forward line. The absence of Nathan Thompson and Corey Jones had a significant impact on their ability to take clean possession in the forward line and make the most of their few scoring chances. The pressure exerted by Fremantle was their best this season and North’s skill level cracked under its intensity. Goals to David Mundy, Matthew Pavlich and Jeff Farmer gave Fremantle a 29 point advantage at the break.
Disaster struck for the Kangaroos in the first minute of the second quarter when Hamish McIntosh limped off the ground injured and played no further part in the game. Lindsay Thomas reacted by kicking the first two goals of the quarter and Freo were challenged for the first time in the game. Some great running play by Peake gave Peter Bell a shot on goal and he put through a steadier for the Dockers. A classy passage of play featuring Damien Harris, Daniel Wells and Matt Campbell saw another six pointer through for North Melbourne. This period of the game was fast and lively with both teams locked in a tight contest. With the Kangaroos lifting, Fremantle faltered, over handling the footy and wasting disposals. A good goal off the pack from Palmer steadied the Dockers. Fremantle began to play very defensively in their forward line and the Kangaroos had trouble clearing the ball from their defensive 50. Pavlich eventually capitalized on their mistakes and scored his third and fourth goals in the latter part of the quarter taking Fremantle into the long break with a 39 point lead.
It was all Fremantle in the third quarter. Garrick Ibbotson opened the goal-kicking at the two minute mark and North looked flat-footed and lacking in structure, particularly in the forward line. Pavlich kicked his fifth and Fremantle continued to tackle like men possessed. After North gave away a 50 meter penalty, Pavlich scored his seventh goal, answering his critics loud and clear and taking Fremantle to a ten goal lead. With Freo players streaming all over the ground, the Roos looked lost and lackluster. Playing tentatively and with no confidence whatsoever, they were repeatedly caught holding the ball and had no targets to kick towards in front of goal.
With Freo fourth quarter fadeouts the story of their season so far, the pressure was on to show resilience and keep control of the game until the end. A quick Tarrant goal signaled their intention to do just that. The Kangaroos lifted and showed some early resistance with goals through Brent Harvey, Ed Lower, Leigh Brown and Leigh Harding reducing the deficit to 48 points. Chances went begging when Daniel Wells missed two shots. Jeff Farmer inspired his team mates with great running, handing Chris Mayne a goal on a plate. With a superb interception of a short North Melbourne pass across goal, Farmer again gave the Dockers the belief they needed as he put the last nail in the Roos’ coffin and the fourth quarter hoodoo to rest.
It was a disappointing and lethargic display by North Melbourne who dropped to ninth position on the AFL Ladder and meet the high-flying Hawthorn in Round 13. Fremantle were impressive in a good team effort and fly to Melbourne midweek to play Saint Kilda in a Friday night game at the Telstra Dome.
Scoreboard Fremantle 5.3 9.8 13.11 18.12 (120) North Melb 0.4 3.6 3.10 9.13 (67) Goals Fremantle M Pavlich 8, J Farmer 2, P Bell, G Ibbotson, M Johnson, C Mayne, D Mundy, R Palmer North Melb L Thomas 2, l Brown, M Campbell, L Harding, B Harvey, E Lower, D Petrie, S Power Best Fremantle Pavlich, Farmer, McPharlin, Solomon, Peake, Farmer North Melb Harvey, Petrie, Wells, Pratt, Power Crowd 34,105
Article last changed on Thursday, July 03, 2008 - 5:13 PM EDT