For the first time in history the Western Derby was played with the two Western Australian teams in first and second positions on the Ladder.
Unfortunately for their fans, who packed Domain Stadium at their home game, they couldn’t land any telling blows and struggled to get scores on the board all the way through the first half of the game. In fact only David Mundy and Michael Walters scored goals early in what was a poor performance from the top team. In contrast the Eagles had eight separate goal kickers at the same point, which showed their willingness to run on, provide leads and make space for the midfield to spot them up with laser-like accuracy. Fremantle managed to staunch the flow of goals by bringing strong pressure on the Eagles’ ball carriers, but were having trouble kicking goals at their end to make inroads into West Coast's lead.
Fremantle’s Alex Silvagni showed a reckless disregard for his chances at playing Finals when he struck Jamie Cripps with a flying elbow in an incident 70 meters off the ball. Cripps had to leave the ground and was later diagnosed with a bruised jaw. Silvagni has been out of favor with the selectors, taking a long time to break back into the senior team, but injuries to key Dockers' defenders had given him the chance to redeem himself. After an undisciplined incident like this he may find himself out of favor once more even after he serves the penalty of four games on the sidelines for the behind the play hit.
Fremantle must have had their ears burned by the blistering half time speech delivered by their coach Ross Lyon because they came out to play the third quarter with renewed vigor. Mundy and Nat Fyfe lifted their ratings but again the Fremantle forwards butchered their early chances. They did make amends later in the quarter but early misses meant no scoreboard pressure was placed on the Eagles. Fremantle eventually got back into the game with Walters finding his radar to goals. His four majors helped fire up the hometown Fremantle crowd and a shootout resulted in the final quarter.
Eagle Josh Hill was given a chance to run riot this week with the suspension of Mark LeCras and he made the most of his opportunity as the Dockers started to close in. His two goals in the last quarter, giving him a total of four for the game, steadied the ship after the Dockers had scored four of their own threatening to pinch the game. His efforts won him man of the match and the Ross Glendinning Medal.
The loss didn’t cost Fremantle top place on the Ladder but it does mean they have to take their run home seriously and this may mean they can't rest their older players until the final round of the home and away fixture. They are still six points clear of the Eagles who sit in second place. What the win does do is help the Eagles to maintain second position over the rampaging Hawks which means that the Eastern States teams may have to travel West to play off in the Finals. Traveling is never easy given the tyranny of distance between Perth and Melbourne, so overall it was a good result for the Western Australian teams.
Scoreboard West Coast: 7.2 8.7 11.12 15.14 (104) Fremantle: 1.3 2.6 5.10 11.14 (80) Best Players West Coast: J Hill, Gaff, Priddis, Hurn, Hutchings Fremantle: Sandilands, S Hill, Mundy, Fyfe, Walters
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT