Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
A sell out crowd was treated to an enthralling Round 22 battle between two teams vying to end the home and away season on a triumphant note, with a home Final the prize for the winner. Fremantle had 11 top players returning after resting players in Round 21, a move for which coach Mark Harvey was criticized heavily. The Blues made the trip west with a strong team, hoping to upset the parochial home town fans by condemning Fremantle to a Finals campaign flying backwards and forward to the east coast.
Carlton started strongly with two early goals, the first to Jarrad Waite after some sloppy defensive play by Garrick Ibbotson and the second to Kade Simpson who found himself on the end of a fantastic handball from Marc Murphy. In a torrid ten minute period, the Dockers produced four shots on goal but only one, a free kick to the inexperienced Michael Walters, was on target. Fremantle got a lucky break when the Carlton runner infringed and gave away a 50 meter penalty. David Mundy moved the ball quickly to Matthew Pavlich who was dominating possessions but had already missed two easy shots. This time he kicked a beauty to put the Dockers ahead by two points. The Blues were on the back foot but their use of the ball was very clean. They scored next when the ball went to a two on one contest in the forward 50 and Simpson ran into an open goal. Carlton continued the charge through Waite who kicked his second goal. A goal by Matt De Boer on the quarter time siren gave Fremantle their third goal and the margin was a slim four points at the break.
Fremantle took the lead early in the second term after De Boer stood strong in a hard tackle and got the ball to the ever-dangerous Hayden Ballantyne who goaled. Pavlich followed with his second goal after an undisciplined tackle by a Blues player cost his team a 50 meter penalty. The Blues hit back through Lachlan Henderson and again the margin fell to two points. The game was played at breakneck speed and was an entertaining spectacle. Fremantle hit their straps mid-quarter with excellent play from Walters, Ballantyne and Stephen Hill, playing the game of his season, and two more majors went on the board. As Fremantle applied more pressure, Carlton’s clean ball use dropped away. When Chris Mayne goaled late in the quarter, it seemed the Dockers had the game in their control. The only fly in the ointment was the temporary loss of reliable defender Luke McPharlin who hobbled off the ground with a knee injury. A timely goal from Jefferey Garlett just before half time kept Carlton within 16 points.
Inaccuracy in front of goals marred much of the third quarter with both sides peppering the point posts. Carlton scored the first six pointer through Henderson to narrow Fremantle’s lead to nine points. The celebrations were short-lived because Stephen Hill began to tear the Carlton midfield to pieces. Not only did he score a goal himself against the play but he brought other Dockers into the game. Chris Mayne and Michael Johnson scored goals late to give Fremantle a 29 point lead at the last break.
With only one quarter between the Dockers and a home Final, fans expected them to hold firm and win comfortably. Carlton players had other plans. Chris Judd, Chris Yarran and Jarrad Waite combined well to rush the ball forward and Heath Scotland converted from a free kick. When the Dockers turned the ball over in the center, Simpson got the ball to Eddie Betts who passed to Garlett and suddenly it was game on with Carlton behind by only 11 points. Fremantle counter-punched with goals to Johnson and Anthony Morabito. Scotland popped into the play again to assist a David Ellard goal. Hill’s dominance was keeping the Blues at bay but Garlett and Yarran showed their brilliance with another great goal. Betts had another chance and missed but there was still plenty of time. Mundy and Fyfe worked hard to clear the ball from Carlton’s forward line but the Blues’ attack was relentless. With three minutes to go, Betts made amends for his earlier miss to bring the Blues within a goal. Fremantle were exhibiting signs of panic as Carlton threw everything at them. The Dockers went forward and a Carlton defender kicked the ball through the goals for a handy point, giving the Dockers a seven point cushion. A spoil by Johnson and a saving mark by Greg Broughton soothed Fremantle fans’ fears but there was one more chance for Carlton. Paul Bower took a mark with 30 seconds to go and his kick was marked by a diving Waite. Waite kicked a point and Fremantle ran out six point winners after a determined comeback by a courageous Carlton.
Fremantle have their home Final next Saturday at Subiaco and will face the in form 2008 Premiers Hawthorn. On Sunday Carlton will play the Sydney Swans who also earned a home Final at ANZ Stadium. Sydney have finished the season strongly and have a lot of Finals experience in their side. The first weekend of the Finals should provide fans with four close and competitive matches.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 3.4 8.6 11.11 13.15 (93) Carlton: 4.2 6.2 7.6 13.9 (87) Best players Fremantle: S Hill, D Mundy, M Johnson, A Sandilands, L McPharlin Carlton: K Simpson, M Murphy, B Gibbs, H Scotland, R Warnock
Article last changed on Thursday, September 02, 2010 - 11:22 AM EDT