The Fremantle Dockers used superior fitness and the open spaces of Domain Stadium to defeat the weakened Gold Coast Suns. The Suns came into the game with a long injury list and were forced to play four players with less than ten games' experience.
The Dockers had lost their last three outings but were never going to lose to the Suns, despite the Gold Coast team’s determined attack on the ball. The Suns' started with Gary Ablett clearing the ball from the center bounce and Gold Coast doing most of the attacking in the first ten minutes. The Suns scored the first goal within two minutes, after Dockers’ defender Ethan Hughes fumbled and Sexton soccered an opportunistic goal from the goal square. Sexton was involved three minutes later when he received a good pass from Jack Martin and booted to Peter Wright who marked (caught the ball) and kicked the Suns’ second goal. The inspired Suns applied strong pressure around the contest and the Dockers appeared less assured, by fumbling and making poor disposal. At the eleven-minute mark some good defense from the Dockers, saw Brad Hill clear the ball to Shane Kersten who handballed to Nick Suban who ran through the center, with two bounces, and handballed to Cam McCarthy who goaled. Suban was involved in the next score when he returned a handball to Hayden Crozier who snapped a goal from thirty meters. The Suns responded with two late goals for the quarter from Tom Lynch at 20 minutes; and then five minutes later Lynch cleared the ball from the center to see Peter Wright take a clever one-handed mark and goal. The Dockers finished the quarter one point behind, when Lachie Neale passed to McCarthy at half forward who marked and kicked his second goal just before the siren.
The Dockers took firm control in the second quarter with four unanswered goals. Neale and the two Hill brothers were in everything for the Dockers and the Suns were overrun despite the solid work of Mitch Hallahan, Pearce Hanley, Aaron Hall and Ablett. The Suns launched several attacks but their delivery did not advantage their forwards. The Dockers’ back men, particularly mature age recruit Luke Ryan who was playing his eighth game, grabbed intercepting marks (nine for the game). The Dockers concentrated on running into space to create the loose man to disrupt the Suns’ defensive lines. Fremantle’s goals were close-range snaps at the rear of packs, or where a forward had dropped behind to receive a well-weighted kick which bypassed the Suns’defenders. The spectators were also treated to some intriguing one-on-one midfield contests between Nat Fyfe and Gary Ablett. Darcy McPherson, playing his ninth game for the Suns, scouted a ball off hands from a marking contest to snap a late goal to keep the Suns within 16 points at the main break.
Both teams started the third quarter with a spare man in defense. Within two minutes the Dockers were into attack. Neale received a free kick on the boundary fifty meters from goal and kicked truly for the Dockers. Gold Coast did not surrender and continued to beat the Dockers in contested possessions and clearances around the ground. The Suns used long kicks into their forward line to put the ball in the air for their big men, Lynch and Wright, who both out-marked their opponents to kick a goal each by halfway through the quarter. At the 17-minute mark, the Dockers responded by transferring play quickly from defense to allow Hayden Ballantyne to use open space and pace, to kick truly and incite a roar from the home crowd. The Dockers then opened the game up by finding space and kicking two more goals; before Lynch responded with a fine goal for the Suns just before the end of the term.
In the final quarter the Dockers were able to get greater numbers to the ball and snuff out any chance of a Suns’ revival. The Dockers launched numerous attacks but their goal kicking was offline. The exhausted Gold Coast players stopped running and their forward attacks lost system and were easily repulsed by the Dockers’ defenders, led by Michael Johnston. Docker wingman, Brad Hill, continued to scythe through the middle of the ground so that by the end of the night he had achieved a game-high total of 762 meters gained. Pearce Hanley announced that he was getting back to his best form for the Suns by scoring a much needed goal midway through the final quarter. Adam Saad also displayed some welcome flair to kick to Sexton who scored the Suns’ final goal, to keep the honors even for the final stanza.
The Suns’ coach Rodney Eade is under pressure, but will take heart from the way his charges competed for the ball and refused to surrender. Next week they travel to Brisbane and may find the form that, this year, has seen them beat Hawthorn (twice), Geelong and West Coast. The Dockers will be buoyed by their win and the continued improvement of their young defenders. However, they will need everything they have got, and then some, to trouble the Sydney Swans in Sydney.
Scores Fremantle Dockers 3.5 7.8 11.12 12.18 (90) Gold Coast Suns 4.0 5.4 8.7 10.7 (67) Best Fremantle Dockers: Neale, B Hill, Fyfe, Ryan, Johnson Gold Coast Suns : Ablett, Hallahan, Hanley, Martin, Lynch
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT