A couple of last minute goals to Lachie Neale and Hayden Ballantyne saw the Fremantle Dockers sneak a win over Port Adelaide Power in their Round 1 clash at Domain (formerly Patersons) Stadium in Perth. Neale’s goal was a shot on the run from 50 meters out in the last minutes of the game, while Ballantyne played on from a match winning tackle by Zac Clarke who won a free kick after chasing down Jasper Pittard in the forward 50 metre zone. A four goal contribution by Matthew Pavlich, two of which were at critical times in the final quarter, also helped the Dockers to a stirring win.
It was a closely fought contest for most of the night with only a few points separating both teams. Port had the lead for a good part of the match and Fremantle were playing catch-up. The Power players were sharp with their kicking and delivery of the ball to their teammates. In contrast Fremantle looked second rate as they constantly missed easy targets, at times kicking under 50% accuracy. This - along with the intense pressure the Power players were applying at every contest - had the hometown crowd of 34,000 people groaning with disappointment on numerous occasions when Fremantle fluffed a pass. Their wounds were self-inflicted and looked likely to be the cause of their defeat, given their opponents' accuracy and speed.
Ollie Wines and Brett Ebert worked with Robbie Gray to give the Power a powerful engine room across the midfield. They linked up and - with clever kicking - were creating loose men, free to receive and drive Port into attack. Ebert scored a goal after Ballantyne inexplicably tried to stop a kick from a teammate rolling through the Fremantle goals. With this mess up, Port went from one end to the other in a flash, resulting in the Ebert goal. Chad Wingard was also adding to the Dockers’ woes. Whilst not getting a huge number of possessions, every time he did get the ball, something positive would result.
Both teams waited as long as possible before activating their substitutes. Angus Monfries replaced Alipate Carlile for Port while Matt de Boer went on for a rather quiet Chris Mayne at the start of the fourth quarter. Neither substitute had a dramatic impact on the game, although de Boer put some extra pressure on Port’s midfielders with some fierce tackling. It was left to the old hands of Wines and Wingard to continue scoring goals and almost pull the game off the Dockers. A freakish goal by Travis Boak late in the final quarter - a snap shot deep in the forward pocket that floated between the goals - had the Fremantle fans sitting up straight as it took Port within a single kick of winning the match.
Fremantle managed to hang on in a game that was a snapshot of a Finals match. It was tough and well fought out by both teams. Port will improve as their underdone players gain some match fitness, while Fremantle will get some impetus from another first round win, having won all of their first games since 2009.
Check out more of Dave Woodley's photos of the game in our Gallery.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 2.1 5.3 7.5 11.9 (75) Port Adelaide: 2.5 5.5 7.8 10.8 (68) Best Players Fremantle: Fyfe, Pavlich, Mundy, D Pearce, Duffield, Spurr Port Adelaide: Wines, Gray, Ebert, Wingard, Polec
Article last changed on Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - 1:17 PM EDT