Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Fremantle’s hopes of playing Finals may have been washed away after their loss to Hawthorn in a torrential rain-soaked Round 19 game. A crowd of over 30,000 fans braved the weather to watch a one sided contest that, in reality, was decided in the first quarter of the match. There was an air of anticipation before the game as last time the two teams met, Fremantle outplayed the Hawks until a spirited fight back saw the Hawks victorious. Coming into the match, Hawthorn was on Final Four pace, having won nine out of their last 11 games.
Apart from the rain, there was a strong breeze that favored the Hawks in the first quarter. All started well for the Dockers and much of the early action took place in their forward line. Suddenly the momentum turned and Hawthorn took full advantage of the wind. Sam Mitchell snapped the first goal from the pocket and the floodgates opened as it rained goals for Hawthorn. After kicking six unanswered goals in 15 minutes the Hawks were never challenged. Cyril Rioli was darting in and out of contests and kicked two of Hawthorn's six goals. The Hawks made effective use of their disposals in the trying conditions while the Dockers looked slow and tentative with their ball movement and could not string enough possessions together to have an effect. Fremantle were held goalless in the first quarter and entered the break 37 points behind.
Fremantle was at a disadvantage without injured ruck pair Aaron Sandilands and Jonathan Griffin and third string ruckman Zac Clarke had his work cut out for him. The Dockers struggled to win clearances from stoppages and in the conditions there were many. Mitchell kicked his second goal when he read the ball off one of these ruck contests. David Hale added insult to injury when he took the ball cleanly out of the next ruck contest and snapped it through for a goal. Finally Ryan Crowley got the home side on the board from a free kick with four minutes left to play in the half and Matthew Pavlich kicked a classy Captain’s goal soon after. The Dockers held their heads a little higher as they left the ground at the end of the half, having matched Hawthorn for goals in the quarter, but still trailing by 41 points.
Having stemmed the bleeding somewhat, Fremantle came out with some hope of getting back into the game in the third quarter. Garrick Ibbotson’s kick into the man on the mark soon after the game recommenced was the harbinger of the disaster to come. Fremantle could not do a thing right all quarter. They misjudged marks, overran the ball, kicked poorly, went to ground, kicked into nests of opponents, fumbled and looked disoriented. They were bereft of skills, ideas and confidence. Hawthorn, in contrast, continued to attack with precision. Hale scored two goals, one from a Nick Lower error and the other from a free kick. Dylan Roberton gave away a free kick when he elbowed Xavier Ellis head high and Ellis converted the free kick into a goal. (Ed. note: Roberton received a reprimand for the contact from the AFL Match Review Panel which makes him available to play next round.) Hawthorn scored three goals for the quarter while the Dockers registered a solitary point to trail by 11 goals at the third quarter break.
Disaster struck again for Fremantle in the final quarter when Matt DeBoer injured his knee to finish his season and Rhys Palmer injured an ankle. This left the Dockers two men down for the rest of the game. Despite this adversity, they showed some grit and played on at every opportunity. Clarke kicked a super long ball from 70 yards out for a goal and Hayden Ballantyne, who had been quiet all night, kicked truly from a snap out of a ruck contest. Adam McPhee, playing his 200th game, goaled next for the Dockers from a free kick, but it was too late to do anything other than regain some pride. Nate Fyfe goaled for the Dockers with a 50 yard sprint and carry then a long 50 yard goal before Hawthorn finished with the last couple of goals for the game. The score line looked more respectable in the end than it deserved and, by any standards, Fremantle received an old-fashioned flogging.
Fremantle is falling quickly down the ladder and faces an almost impossible task to stay in the Top Eight with an unfavorable draw for the rest of the season. Injuries to key players have hurt them and while some will be returning before season’s end, it may be too late. Hawthorn is tuning up well for the Finals and will be a hard team to beat come September.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 0.2 2.3 2.4 6.8 (44) Hawthorn: 6.3 8.8 11.16 13.17 (95) Best Players Fremantle: A Silvagni, G Broughton, T Mzunga, N Fyfe, M Pavlich Hawthorn: T Mitchell, B Sewell, B Guerra, P Puopolo, D Hale
To view David Woodley’s photos of the Fremantle versus Hawthorn encounter, click on: http://www.afana.com/drupal5/category/image_galleries/2011_season/2011_season_photo_essays/round_19_fremantle_v_hawthorn/14-1880
Article last changed on Sunday, August 07, 2011 - 7:10 AM EDT