Not since 1956 has a team been two games clear on top of the standings after six rounds of football. Fifty-nine years later, this is where the Fremantle Dockers find themselves after disposing of the Essendon Bombers in their Round 6 clash at Domain Stadium in Perth. Essendon was hard at the contest early and scored the first goal through Jackson Merrett. The Bombers were fierce with their tackles and had the Dockers scrambling about trying to get the ball where they wanted it to go. Things clicked for the Dockers midway through the first quarter with four quick goals and the play 66% of the time in Fremantle's forward half. Merrett’s brother Zac scored the only other goal for the Dons in the quarter, leaving them trailing by 14 points at the break.
Things fell away quickly for the visitors when they stopped the close checking, man-on-man play which had kept the game close. This allowed the running midfielders of Fremantle off the chain and the goals came quickly as a result. Matthew Pavlich kicked his third and Hayden Ballantyne his second. Not only were the Bombers failing to score, they were having a hard time keeping possession of the ball. When they did get it they were forced wide and slow by Fremantle’s tight defense. Fremantle over-powered Essendon in the third quarter and held them goalless. Again Bomber players had trouble moving the ball and were running on tired legs. Goals to Clancee Pearce, Michael Walters and a fourth to Pavlich effectively put the game out of reach.
Whether it was a blistering spray by the coach at the three-quarter time break or an easing off by Fremantle, Essendon players came out in the last quarter prepared to play. Had they played this way earlier in the game the result might have been different as they held Fremantle to a measly two points while kicking four goals themselves. However the last quarter surge was really more a saving of face after Fremantle had nailed the door shut with their efforts before the last break.
Fremantle look the hot tip for the flag at the moment although there is a long way to go. Essendon is in the log jam of teams struggling outside the Top Eight and will need to win a crucial game against North Melbourne next week to maintain any momentum as the season progresses.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 4.3 9.4 12.6 12.8 (80) Essendon: 2.1 3.3 3.6 7.10 (52) Best Players Fremantle: Neale, Pavlich, Fyfe, Mundy, C Pearce Essendon: Goddard, Baguley, Watson, Z Merrett
Article last changed on Monday, July 02, 2018 - 2:52 AM EDT