Fremantle had been flying under the radar of more glamorous performers in recent weeks, but now sits in second position on the Ladder after comfortably dispatching the Greater Western Sydney Giants in Round 17. Starting as favorites, the Dockers ran over the Giants despite spirited opposition and it wasn’t until the final quarter that Fremantle really put the foot down to take the game beyond the reach of their young Giants' opponents.
Greater Western Sydney gave a good account of themselves in this David versus Goliath match up. They were sharp moving the ball through the middle and caught Fremantle on the back foot a few times. The early part of the game was played in the Dockers’ forward fifty meter zone, but the Giants weren’t blown away. Fremantle scored the first three goals of the game, two of them to Nick Suban, but they did not have things all their own way. Callan Ward kicked a Captain’s goal for the Giants late in the first quarter to keep in touch. With only one less scoring opportunity at that stage the Giants were certainly not disgraced.
Lachlan Whitfield kicked a goal that started off as a pass into the forward line but bounced over every player to dribble through for the Giants’ second goal. His luck continued later in the game when he did a “Maradona” with the ball in mid-air to kick his second. Fremantle was scoring goals at the other end with Hayden Ballantyne starting to fire up. He was the spark that the Dockers needed to take their game to another level. The Giants were tight in the clinches and continued to threaten with a third goal in the quarter to Whitfield. His determination was keeping a faint hope alive that GWS might get back within striking distance.
GWS went all out at the start of the second half but could not score back to back goals to make a dent in the lead. The Giants refused to throw in the towel and continued to look dangerous with their crisp handball and ability to move the ball forward. Toby Greene was having a blinder of a game and he was well supported through the middle by Dylan Shiel and Ward. In a psychological move, Dockers’ coach Ross Lyon brought on substitute Anthony Morabito to replace Clancee Pearce. Morabito was playing only his second senior game since his third knee reconstruction and he injected some dash and flair into the game. When he took the field the roar from the home crowd was deafening and gave a visible lift to the Dockers. GWS scored two goals late in the third quarter but were still 41 points adrift.
It was a credit to the GWS resolve that they kept on bringing the fight to Fremantle and their determination and courage in the contests was impressive. Unfortunately their game plan came unstuck in the later stages of the game with Fremantle putting them to the sword. Fremantle lifted a gear and blew the margin out as the clock ran down. Ballantyne kicked his fifth goal and was in the votes for best player on the ground. He would have been disappointed in the rush of blood that saw him reported for striking off the ball. With carryover points the Match Review panel has given Ballantyne a one match penalty which will surely disappoint and annoy Coach Ross Lyon.
Fremantle’s percentage boost in this game saw them jump two places to second on the Ladder. The Dockers are playing the brand of football that took them into the 2013 Grand Final and with their easy run home they will probably be playing a home final (or two) and have the chance to repeat the performance. The Giants were not discredited despite the 76 point loss. They are still a young and inexperienced team who can cause an upset if they are not given respect. They take on Geelong in Round 18 while Fremantle will go up against a struggling St Kilda outfit.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 4.1 9.5 14.5 21.10 (136) GWS: 3.1 4.5 7.6 9.6 (60) Best Players Fremantle: Ballantyne, Fyfe, Mzungu, Suban, Clarke GWS: Greene, Shiel, Ward, Whitfield
Article last changed on Monday, July 14, 2014 - 9:23 AM EDT