Geelong won the 2011 Premiership and despite the loss of some key players to retirement, this is still a formidable side which plays well away. Nevertheless the Cats have had trouble with the Fremantle Dockers. Last year there was one nail-biting finish and the first quarter for 2012 showed that the fans were in for more of the same.
Carlton effectively ended Fremantle’s Finals’ hopes in a comprehensive demolition at Patersons Stadium in Round 21. Fremantle had won the last 12 of 14 encounters with Carlton and got off to a great start winning the ball from the first bounce down. Aaron Sandilands was back after injury and tapped the ball down for a Matthew Pavlich clearance. Pavlich chased up his own kick to goal within the first 30 seconds of the game.
Fremantle’s hopes of playing Finals may have been washed away after their loss to Hawthorn in a torrential rain-soaked Round 19 game. A crowd of over 30,000 fans braved the weather to watch a one sided contest that, in reality, was decided in the first quarter of the match. There was an air of anticipation before the game as last time the two teams met, Fremantle outplayed the Hawks until a spirited fight back saw the Hawks victorious. Coming into the match, Hawthorn was on Final Four pace, having won nine out of their last 11 games.
South Australia has the Showdown, Queensland the Clash but the Western Derby is considered one of the most exciting games of the entire season. Unlike other games, it doesn’t matter where the West Coast Eagles or the Fremantle Dockers are on the Ladder. The Derby is guaranteed to be a cracking, hard fought match. For the record, this time the teams were fifth and sixth on the Ladder and 41,000 fans were treated to a classic encounter.