The Fremantle Dockers held off the determined St Kilda Saints, to earn a tough win at Optus Stadium. The Saints pushed the Dockers for much of the game but were wasteful in front of goals and did not receive value for effort. Fremantle lacked class but showed true grit to survive after captain Nat Fyfe was concussed during the third quarter.
The Saints booted the first goal within two minutes of the start, after clearing the ball from defense and working the ball down the wing. Josh Bruce tapped the ball from a marking (catching) contest to Tim Membrey. Membrey handballed to Blake Acres, who used pace to run into the goal square and finish from close range. It took another five minutes for the Dockers to open their account. Cam McCarthy used strength in a pack to hand ball to Michael Walters, who snapped truly from 40 meters. The Saints placed a spare man in defense and the game developed into a struggle between Docker surges and the Saints' determined defense. The Dockers finally broke through with a mark and goal to Hill at the 21-minute mark and then three minutes later with a goal to McCarthy, after Jesse Hogan took a strong mark on the wing and handpassed to Matera who kicked long into attack for McCarthy.
The Saints lifted their effort in the second quarter and won more contested possessions than the Dockers. The Saints tried to bomb long kicks to Tim Membrey at full forward, but his attempts to mark were spoiled by Dockers’ defenders Alex Pearce and Joel Hambling. At the other end, Rory Lobb took an uncontested mark to goal within the first three minutes of the quarter. Then Docker defender Ethan Hughes worked forward and goaled from a free kick. At the ten-minute mark the Dockers booted their best team goal with a quick transition from defense, enabling big forward, Matt Taberner, to rove a spilled marking attempt and score from ten meters.
The Saints responded to these six consecutive Docker goals with Membrey capitalising on Docker mistakes, on the wing, and booting long to Josh Bruce who marked and kicked truly. Four minutes later Jade Gresham roved a pack beautifully, to boot the Saints third goal. Membrey then took a big mark on the goal line to bring the Saints right back into the game. Fortune favoured the Saints in the final minutes of the quarter when Membrey butchered a shot on goal and it was marked by Jack Billings, who slotted a major to have the Saints within five points at the main break.
The Saints continued their hard attack on the ball in the third quarter but the desperate Dockers matched them. Taberner marked and snapped a goal from the boundary for the Dockers. Then Blake Acres out-bodied defender, Ethan Hughes, to gain possession and handball to Membrey in the square to reply. At the five-minute mark, David Mundy handballed from a pack to Walters who produced a quick response for the Dockers. Matera lifted his game after Fyfe left the ground by taking a desperate sliding mark on the boundary; and then kicking well from an acute angle. The Saints then peppered the goals without success. At the 22-minute mark Bruce and Membrey worked the ball out of a pack of Dockers to Jack Lonie, who skidded a major from five meters to bring the Saints within sight of an upset victory. The visitors finished the quarter with two more missed chances to sit just six points behind at the final change.
In the last stanza, Matera continued his best game for the Dockers to push the home team further in front with two crucial goals. He could have iced the game at the 16-minute mark but mis-kicked. The Saints bombed long kicks forward, without success. However, a turnover on the wing at the 20-minute caught the Dockers’ defenders out of position. Membrey gathered from a spoilt mark to handball to Jade Gresham, who ran into an open goal. The Dockers defended grimly with Luke Ryan leading the way with intercept marks. With nine seconds left on the clock, Jack Billings snapped a remarkable goal from a congested pack to bring the Saints within five points. Who ever won the final center clearance would most likely win the game.
With fans at fever pitch, the umpires stopped play after the bounce. It was noticed that St Kilda had an extra player in attack. In the thrilling finale, the Saints were caught by the devil in the details of the new 6-6-6 rule. Play was stopped as the umpires waited for St Kilda to re-set their team. Play restarted with the umpire throwing the ball up in the center of the ground. Mundy cleared for the Dockers and booted long into attack. The game was over. The Dockers survived without their captain. The Saints will reflect on their missed chances.
Next week the Saints return to Marvel Stadium to take on Hawthorn. The Dockers remain at Optus Stadium to play an 'away' game against the West Coast Eagles.
Scores Fremantle Dockers 3.2 6.2 9.2 11.5 (71) St Kilda Saints 1.1 5.3 7.8 9.12 (66) Best Fremantle: Walters, Ryan, Langdon, Fyfe, Matera St Kilda Saints: Billings, Gresham, Geary, Marshall, Membrey
Article last changed on Monday, April 08, 2019 - 10:05 AM EDT