Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Fremantle has demolished the North Melbourne Kangaroos in three out of their last four games played, the most recent time by 61 points. North has traveled to Perth twice in the last month to play in very hot conditions. This time they had the services of their premier ruckman Todd Goldstein who was a last minute withdrawal when they played West Coast in Round 1.
North Melbourne started well and had the first goal on the board from Drew Petrie after he intercepted an errant Jayden Pitt pass. Aaron Edwards followed up with a superb goal from deep in the forward pocket. The only time Fremantle had a possession in the first three minutes was when they were awarded a free kick from the center bounce. Matthew Pavlich started to get his game into gear, distributing the ball well across the forward half as the quarter progressed, but his teammates were letting him down. Pocket dynamo Hayden Ballantyne scored a stirring goal from a ruck bounce down and sparked the Dockers into action as they kicked the next two goals to hit the front. There was a bizarre incident involving a goal umpire who signaled a point from a Brent Harvey kick, only to have the field umpire and boundary umpire disagree with him and change the call to a goal. Kepler Bradley kicked the next two goals for the Dockers, one after the siren from 55 yards out to give the home team a handy nine point lead at the break.
Fremantle had most of the play in the second quarter but couldn’t quite put their opponents away. Adam McPhee looked to be playing for a free kick when he put his head down and ran into an opponent while gathering the ball. This is a gray area in the rules the AFL has implemented to protect players from being tackled head high. McPhee's goal stretched the lead and things were looking good for the Dockers. Jack Ziebell kicked North’s next two goals, one of which had the goal umpire from the earlier controversy involved again. He signaled a point for what was clearly a goal, before changing his mind under pressure again from the field umpire.The atmosphere was electric and the crowd was enjoying the free-flowing style of play from both teams. Daniel Wells read the ball best from a stoppage and snapped a goal across his body from 35 yards out to give the Kangaroos some momentum. They would not give the game away but as the quarter ended North had not made any progress towards closing the nine point gap.
Fremantle’s Chris Mayne scored first in the third quarter after being awarded a free kick in front of goals. Fremantle had to activate their substitute soon after when Nick Suban encountered friendly fire from Ryan Crowley while tackling Wells. Suban broke his fibula in the incident and was stretchered from the ground, straight to hospital. His injury continues a run of bad luck for the Dockers and Suban in particular, as he was out for most of last season with an ankle injury. Fremantle began to move away from the Kangaroos when Ballantyne and Nathan Fyfe scored in quick succession. Fyfe received a 50 yard penalty to put him 55 yards out, and he produced a sensational kick to increase the Dockers' lead.
There were two goals in this quarter that will be in the running for goal of the year. Aaron Edwards scored a major after he evaded a Pavlich tackle and dribbled the ball end over end from 30 yards out on a tight angle from the pocket. With both teams pressing forward into North Melbourne’s half, Bradley gathered the ball for Fremantle on the outer wing. Ballantyne sprinted from the back end of the center square into the open forward line. Bradley spotted him and kicked the ball out in front for him to run on to, bounce twice and kick a magnificent goal. Stephen Hill capped off the quarter with an intercept and goal from a poor kick-in by the Kangaroos. The Dockers led by 32 points and looked like running away with the game.
Cruize Garlett, the substitute for North Melbourne, was activated as the final term started. He started in the middle and injected some run into the midfield. The Kangaroos kicked the first goal when they transferred the ball quickly from defense and capitalized on a rare mistake by the Dockers’ Greg Broughton. The goals were coming thick and fast in an entertaining tussle. North Melbourne was doing just enough to tantalize its supporters and never looked completely out of the game. They came with a rush at the end, kicking the last three goals of the match but the moment had passed and it was too late to impact the result. Fremantle ran out comfortable winners by 29 points. In Ryan Crowley's 100th game, it was a fitting result for the occasion.
It has been a poor start to the season for the Kangaroos. They are winless after Round 4 and are languishing at second last on the Ladder. Fremantle are playing consistently good football and, with three wins, they find themselves in fourth position and half a game clear from the next club. They have continued where they left off in 2010 and are real contenders for a Final’s berth this year.
For David Woodley's photos of this match click on the link:
Fremantle: 5.6 9.9 14.12 18.19 (127)
North Melbourne: 4.3 8.6 9.10 14.14 (98)
Fremantle: M Pavlich, H Ballantyne, S Hill, N Fyfe, D Mundy
North Melbourne: A Swallow, J Ziebell, L Adams, A Edwards, B Harvey
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT