Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Fremantle picked a win out of the pocket of Carlton at Patersons Stadium in their Round 19 clash. Pre-game defiant Blues' coach Mick Malthouse was adamant that they weren’t in Perth to “just lay down”. Although their 2014 season has been less than impressive, Carlton had won six out of their past nine encounters in Perth so they had some reason to feel confident. The Dockers brought their "A Team" to the encounter after an embarrassing humiliation in their last game against St Kilda and the Dockers needed every man as the match went down to the last 40 seconds to decide the winner.
Early on it was a free flowing game with Chris Judd turning back the clock, taking the ball out of the center bounce downs as he did in his prime on what was then Subiaco Oval. Fremantle had the run of the ball for the opening period, kicking a couple of goals before the Blues steadied and returned the favor. Scoring was frequent and the two sides looked evenly matched. Carlton came back late in the first quarter with goals to Mark Murphy and Jarred Waite.
Fremantle players needed to lift their ratings in the second quarter, as they were not playing hard enough at the ball. Carlton continued to waltz out of the clearances without undue pressure, setting up attacks. Despite their best efforts they could not capitalize on them and did not put the opposition away. The Dockers seemed to have lost their spark and were constantly playing defensively rather than mounting attacks of their own. Matthew Pavlich went down heavily with an accidental elbow to the face and Fremantle was forced to subsitute its captain with Matt de Boer. The Blues were playing a possession game that had the Dockers rattled. There was only one goal scored by either team in the second quarter when David Mundy put one through the big sticks for Fremantle.
Carlton looked like the team in control of the match after half time. They were picking out targets and kicking to maintain possession, often switching from one side of the ground to the other to find a way to the goals. And find a way they did. Kicking the next four goals in a row, Carlton began to put the choker hold on their opponents. They were harder and more intense at the ball but Fremantle clawed a couple of goals back to back to stay in the hunt. Carlton could have buried them had they kicked straighter in the third quarter.
Bryce Gibbs was given a soft free kick in front of goals to give Carlton back the momentum when he slotted it. Hayden Ballantyne was in overdrive at the other end. He stepped up full of energy to ignite a late revival and his two goals in the last quarter made the difference. It seemed to be in vain when Jarred Waite goaled after receiving a 50 meter penalty after Zac Dawson stepped clumsily over the mark. Waite's goal put the Blues ahead with minutes to go and had their fans counting the four points for the win.
With only seconds left, Cameron Wood kicked a hasty clearance out of the back line only to see the ball drop into the waiting arms of Docker Lachie Neale. He calmly turned around and kicked the winning goal to pull his teammates out of the fire by five points.
The Dockers were very lucky to get out of jail with the win. They were outplayed for most of the match and it was only an errant kick at the death-knock that saw them take the points. Carlton deserved the win but had the win pinched from them at the last minute. Fremantle keeps its hopes alive for a finish in the Top Two, playing a tough one in Round 20 at Skilled Stadium against Geelong. Carlton, possibly the best side out of the Top Eight, takes on Gold Coast at Etihad Stadium.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 5.1 6.5 8.7 12.11 (83) Carlton: 4.2 4.6 8.11 11.12 (78) Best Players Fremantle: Fyfe, Ballantyne, Mundy, Barlow, McPharlin Carlton: Murphy, Ellard, Yarran, Judd, Simpson
Article last changed on Sunday, August 03, 2014 - 9:19 PM EDT