Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
Reigning Premiers, the Geelong Cats, traveled to Perth to do battle with the Cinderella team of the AFL, the Fremantle Dockers. With full forward Cameron Mooney suspended and ruckman Brad Ottens injured, the loss of the two biggest Cats gave 28 year-old James Podsiadly the chance to make his debut. Fremantle had won their first two games of the season and on their home turf were tipped to take the game right up to the Cats.
Within 45 seconds of the opening bounce, Adam McPhee marked and kicked the Dockers' first goal. His good work was undone a few minutes later when Hayden Ballantyne found himself on report for pinching an opponent and gave away a free kick and 50-meter penalty to Paul Chapman. Chapman kicked the goal and leveled the score. Fremantle’s defense was fantastic and much improved over last season. They hunted in packs and gave their Geelong opponents no time to set up the run and handball tactics that usually cut up their opposition. Goals to Matthew Pavlich and a brilliant snap on goal to Jimmy Bartel from deep in the left pocket kept the score line ticking over through the middle of the first quarter. Gary Ablett Jr showed some of his trademark brilliance when he intercepted a kick-in and scored a goal from some sloppy Fremantle play. He scored again late in the quarter to give his side a four point advantage on the siren.
Fremantle were again quick out of the blocks to start the second quarter with veteran Des Headland intercepting a handball and scoring a goal in the first 30 seconds. The capacity home crowd was on its feet as the Dockers hit the front. Chapman steadied the Geelong ship with a long-range goal from 50 meters out, while Pavlich did the same minutes later. Debutant Podsiadly took a strong contested mark but wasted a kick on goal. Anthony Morabito, one of Fremantle’s first year players, kicked the next two goals, one of which saw him take possession at the center line and run and bounce over 70 meters. From there on it was goal for goal with the lead changing by the minute. Eight goals to Fremantle and six to Geelong saw the home team take a slender four point lead at the long break.
Geelong Coach Bomber Thompson must have read the riot act to his players because as the second half began they stormed away scoring the next four goals in a row. Tom Hawkins was working hard in the Cats’ forward line taking strong marks and kicking straight. The eighty degree heat was a factor as the game progressed with players cramping and seeming to run up and down on the spot. Towards the end of the third quarter Fremantle players looked out on their feet. They lacked the pace and chase they showed earlier in the game and their skill execution was poor. Late in the quarter Ballantyne and Pavlich scored back to back goals only to see Geelong champion Ablett Jr step up and kick a late goal to keep the visitors in front by 14 points at the end of the third quarter.
As the final quarter started Fremantle sensed that something magical might be possible when Pavlich burst through the center and kicked an amazing goal with one foot still in the center square. The ball traveled 65 meters through the goals and the captain’s spirited play energized the Dockers. Back came the pressure, and tired legs responded to the occasion. “Tomahawk” Hawkins continued to be dangerous on the Cats’ forward line when he marked and kicked a goal from a very difficult angle. Urged on by a vocal crowd of supporters, Fremantle kicked the next four out of six goals and took a slender one point lead with a rushed behind late in the game. Geelong fullback Harry Taylor made the cardinal error of stepping on the kickoff line and the resulting bounce saw another point conceded. The next kick-in fell right into the tight Dockers defensive zone and Paul Duffield, who had had a quiet game until this point, charged forward and kicked a brilliant goal to put the game beyond doubt.
After winning the first three games of the season (never before accomplished in their 15 year history) the Dockers find themselves in second position on the ladder. Fremantle are a team to watch this year after having withstood the cauldron of pressure put on them by one of the toughest teams to play AFL in the last decade.
Best Fremantle M. Pavlich, S. Hill, R. Hayden, D. Headland, D. Mundy, A. Morabito Geelong G. Ablett Jr, P. Chapman, J. Bartel, C. Enright, J. Selwood, J. Podsiadly Scoreboard Fremantle 3.6 (24) 9.8 (62) 12.12 (84) 18.17 (125) Geelong 4.4 (28) 8.10 (58) 14.14 (98) 17.16 (118)
Article last changed on Sunday, May 03, 2015 - 7:12 PM EDT