Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
A dazzling four quarter display of precision teamwork by the Fremantle Dockers thrilled their fans and dished out a formidable football lesson to the down and out West Coast Eagles. So complete was Fremantle’s dominance that it is difficult to see how the Eagles can bounce back and challenge sufficiently in their last four games to climb off the bottom of the Ladder.
In perfect football conditions, the Dockers threw everything at their hometown rivals with memories of past Derbies, famous for their tough and sometimes brutal nature, in the news all week long. With Eagle Brad Ebert playing his 50th game, Luke McPharlin celebrating his 150th game for the Dockers, a spot in the Top Four in Fremantle’s sights and the Wooden Spoon beckoning West Coast for the first time in the club’s history, there was plenty on the line. The loss of Shannon Hurn before the game did not help West Coast’s prospects but games played at Subiaco Oval are unpredictable and fans’ hopes were set for a gripping spectacle.
A spectacle it was from start to finish as Fremantle turned on the skill and class from the first bouncedown. David Mundy was in spectacular touch and forward thrusts came quickly with the likes of Paul Hasleby, Roger Hayden, Nathan Fyfe and Matt De Boer throwing themselves at the contest in superb fashion. There were seven unanswered goals for the Dockers who were electric while the Eagles looked slow and disorganized, managing a mere three points for the quarter. In a highlight, newcomer Justin Bollenhagen scored his first goal in AFL football in his first game for the Dockers. There was bad news too when brilliant Fremantle defender Chris Tarrant injured his knee and took no further part in the game, his season and potentially his football career in doubt.
Mark LeCras finally got West Coast on the scoreboard but not before Mundy scored first for the Dockers. LeCras made the most of Tarrant’s departure to kick another two goals for the quarter but it was to no avail. Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands provided opportunity after opportunity to his on ball players who ran harder at the contest and were more desperate than the opposition. West Coast simply had no answer to the class and superior skills of Hayden Ballantyne, Matthew Pavlich and Stephen Hill and looked every bit the bottom team in the competition.
A more even third quarter gave the Eagles some self-respect but inflicted no damage on the scoreline. Again Fremantle’s pace made the Eagles look slow and they were continually caught holding the ball under the enormous pressure exerted on them all over the ground. Ballantyne was outstanding in his best quarter yet for the Dockers, proving himself as one of the recruits of the year. Mark LeCras scored another two goals for West Coast and Andrew Strijk and Nic Naitanui also came into the game and scored goals.
By the final quarter the only question was how big the winning margin would be. Fremantle kept the ante up and brilliant goals came from Hasleby, Ballantyne (three), Hill and Jesse Crichton. Fremantle’s endeavor was vastly superior to that shown by West Coast even late in the game. In the end, it was a 75 point thumping by Fremantle, their best winning margin ever.
Aaron Sandilands was awarded the Ross Glendinning Medal for the best player afield and Fremantle returned to the form which saw them in the Top Four for much of the early part of the season. Young Dockers Greg Broughton, Nathan Fyfe and Matt De Boer played their best games for the season. With a reasonable run home against North Melbourne (Etihad Stadium), Sydney (home), Hawthorn (Aurora Stadium in Tasmania) and Carlton (home) it is feasible for Fremantle to make the Top Four. West Coast play Brisbane in Round 19 in what will be billed as the battle for the Wooden Spoon.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 7.6 13.8 18.12 24.16 (160) West Coast: 0.3 4.4 9.5 13.7 (85) Best Fremantle: H Ballantyne, A Sandilands, M Pavlich, N Fyfe, M De Boer, N Suban, D Mundy West Coast: M LeCras, B Waters, D Cox, M Priddis, A Strijk
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT