Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
ANZAC Day holds a special place in the hearts of all Australians and was honored by the AFL in Round 5. Fremantle has a good ANZAC Day record, having won eight from thirteen "Len Hall" memorial games since entering the competition in 1994. Before the match, veterans paraded with a military band and an eternal flame was lit to pay respect to the fallen soldiers of Australia and New Zealand. While the lone bugler played the Last Post, there was absolute silence in the crowd of thirty two thousand as each paused for one minute of remembrance. The Len Hall Game is named in honor of a member of the Western Australian 10th Light Horse Regiment, active during the Gallipoli campaign.
The mantra "show your courage" is on every player's mind on ANZAC Day and to a man the adrenalin was pumping as the ball was bounced down. Within the first two minutes the ball found its way to Michael Johnson who goaled in front of the Dockers' cheer squad. When Matthew Pavlich and Byron Schammer added goals of their own, and with Sydney yet to register a score, there was something electric in the air around the packed stadium. Adam Goodes steadied the ship for Sydney when he goaled from a series of accurate passes through the midfield. The speed, tackling and commitment from both teams made for an exciting game in the first quarter. Late goals to Brett Peake, Luke McPharlin and Pavlich gave Fremantle a 26 point advantage at the break.
Early in the second quarter, both teams were reluctant to give an inch and as a result the game was concentrated around the two 50 meter arcs. In true Captain's fashion, Pavlich broke through the deadlock, bustling his way through the forward line and sprinting to kick a goal, putting the Dockers up by 32 points, the largest margin of the game so far. Goals to Marty Mattner, Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh had the visitors with their tails up and sensing a chance for a comeback. Meanwhile a goal by Ryan Murphy and a wonderful "banana" kick goal by Ryan Crowley in the dying minutes of the half helped the Dockers extend their lead to 42 points as the siren rang.
Sydney are the masters of the tradesman-like work ethic that is required to overhaul big deficits and they are never out of a game, something that opposition teams often seem to forget. In the first half the Swans lacked drive through the middle but this changed after the long break. Sydney started the second half with three out of the first four goals silencing the home crowd. Having been there before, fans sensed that the Dockers would be put under too much pressure and fold as a result. Goals were traded from there on and when Adam Goodes nailed a gift goal as a result of a 50 meter penalty, the Swans won the quarter and had their tails up.
Early in the final term, two Sydney players clashed heavily as they contested a mark and lay motionless on the ground. The Dockers, outnumbering their opponents in the scoring zone, capitalised with a goal. With the ghosts of the ANZACS whispering in every player's ears, Sydney rose to the occasion and kicked the next two major scores through Goodes and Heath Grundy, to give them some hope of winning the game. However Luke McPharlin sealed the game for the home team when he sprinted through the middle of Subiaco Oval, bounced the ball four times and kicked a memorable 60 meter goal.
Tired legs late in the game saw skill errors in execution and reception. Sydney, not to be denied, kicked the last two goals of the game. Had the game gone on for another five minutes Sydney may well have taken the honors but it was not to be. When the siren rang the Dockers recorded their first win of the 2009 season. It was a well deserved win with fans finally seeing Fremantle deliver the game they were capable of. It was a display of determined tackling, impressive teamwork and, on this special day, of courage under fire.
Scores Fremantle 6.4 11.9 16.10 18.13 (121) Sydney 2.2 5.3 11.3 16.4 (100) Best Players Fremantle M. Pavlich, S. Hill, N. Suban, S. Hill, R. Hayden, G. Ibbotson Sydney B. Kirk, J. Bolton, R. O'Keefe, E. Barlow, A. Goodes
Article last changed on Monday, April 27, 2009 - 7:51 AM EDT