Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
Daniel Rich made a triumphant return to his old stomping ground of Subiaco Oval for the Round 16 match between Brisbane and Fremantle. Taken at number seven pick in the 2008 AFL draft, Rich was overlooked by local teams Fremantle and West Coast who preferred to use their early draft picks for Stephen Hill and Nic Naitanui respectively. Rich is having a dazzling debut season and was the catalyst for a second half resurgence in which Brisbane kicked six goals five to the Dockers' three goals one.
On a rainy Perth night, the Fremantle Dockers turned on an excellent first half of football. Coming off a record-breaking thrashing by the Adelaide Crows in the previous round and a public warning from coach Mark Harvey that a second substandard performance would not be tolerated, players were keen to make amends to the club and its fan base. Keppler Bradley emerged as an unlikely hero laying a superb tackle on the wing before running forward to scoop up a ruck clearance and snapping the Dockers' first goal. Luke Power and Simon Black were playing well in the center for Brisbane but the heavy weather conditions made it tough for the forwards to grab the ball. Midway through the quarter the rain literally bucketed down and the game became messy and mistake-ridden. Fremantle made better use of the slippery football and when Daniel Bradshaw left the ground with a suspected hamstring injury, Brisbane looked brittle. Early in the second quarter the rain stopped and Fremantle took advantage of the lull to attack through Adam Campbell who scored two quick goals in succession to give the Dockers a handy 13 point lead. Although Fremantle managed to shut Brisbane down for most of the quarter, the Lions scored late goals through Mitch Clark who also dominated the ruck contests in the absence of Docker Aaron Sandilands and their indomitable captain Jonathan Brown, well held by Chris Tarrant to this point but always a threat to break loose. Only an inspirational long goal from Nic Suban saved the lead for Fremantle who went into half time a narrow seven points ahead.
Two minutes into the third quarter, Brown seized a half opportunity, gathering up a loose ball in the 50 meter zone and sending it through the goal posts for a major. Fremantle had trouble moving the ball out of defense and a free kick to Justin Sherman for a wayward high tackle gave the Lions an eight point lead. To their credit, Fremantle did not crumble and again it was Bradley who came to the rescue and goaled. Weather conditions deteriorated and players were forced to test their skills against the pelting rain. Brisbane upped the ante and exerted tremendous pressure on the Fremantle back line, left vulnerable after Tarrant was forced off the ground with a knee injury. Rich and Brown were unrelenting in their attack on the ball and the Dockers had no answer to their superior kicking and marking skills. A late goal to David Mundy against the run of play kept Fremantle in the game but Brisbane's 22 forward entries to Fremantle's six spelled big trouble for the home team in the last quarter.
Brisbane has been a good finishing team all year whereas Fremantle's season has been dogged by very poor last quarters. This one proved no exception. Rich had a major impact and beat anyone the Dockers tried to play against him. Goals from Brett Dalziell and Brown (his fourth for the day) secured a predictable Lions' win although a late goal from Antoni Grover made the losing margin a respectable fifteen points. The Dockers battled hard and were not disgraced but in the second half they fumbled too much, delivered errant handballs and regularly played on into trouble instead of waiting for the best option. Brisbane's ability to handle the ball more cleanly in the adverse conditions and the dominance of their two star players, the youngster Rich and the veteran Brown, were the difference on the day.
Scoreboard Brisbane 1.1 3.3 7.7 9.8 (62) Fremantle 2.3 4.4 6.5 7.5 (47) Best players Brisbane D Rich, L Power, J Brown, M Clark, S Black, A McGrath Fremantle D Solomon, C Pearce, N Suban, K Bradley, G Broughton, P Duffield
Article last changed on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 - 8:43 PM EDT