The Fremantle Dockers beat the brave West Coast Eagles, in a game that could prove pivotal for both teams. West Coast had a good outing against the GWS Giants the week before, but their ageing and wounded list was no match for the Dockers who finished full of run. Although the Eagles were expected to lose, the Dockers had been out-of-sorts in their first two outings and had lost to two teams they were expected to beat. The Eagles started brightly with Tim Kelly, Andrew Gaff and Reuben Ginbey matching Andrew Brayshaw, Jaeger O'Meara and Sam Switkowski in clearances. This was despite Sean Darcy and Luke Jackson, dominating Bailey J Williams in the ruck. Darcy finished with an astonishing 52 hit-outs, Jackson had 17 and Williams only had fourteen.
In addition to clearances, West Coast won almost twice the number of contested possessions in the first quarter, largely due to Tim Kelly who hit the ball hard, and refused to give a quarter in any contest. Jack Darling was busy and presented well, up forward and managed to take a strong contested mark for his first goal. High-priced import Luke Jackson finally lived up to the hype, snapping a good early goal for the Dockers. With an open fast-paced game, both sets of defenses were under pressure. New Docker full-forward Jye Amiss booted two consecutive goals, one from a free kick, before Oscar Allen marked strongly to also kick two in a row for the Eagles. Michael Walters received a soft free kick for the Dockers at the end of the quarter, to goal and leave the Dockers one point down at the end of the first stanza. The Eagles though were winning contested possessions and showed plenty of run to win the uncontested possessions. The Dockers kept themselves in the game early with their desperate tackling.
In the second quarter the run of the Dockers had the Eagles struggling, as the Dockers skipped away with four goals. Switkowski added pace in the middle. It was the Docker runners, Switkowski, Walters, Frederick who slotted three unanswered goals. Andrew Brayshaw improved his clearance work and Caleb Serong repeatedly put the Dockers into attack. Ruckman Darcy added the final goal for the quarter, benefitting from a long Walters handpass. The Eagles' Kelly, Hurn and Gaff got plenty of ball but were always under pressure from relentless Docker tackling. Tom Barrass benefitted from poor kicking into attack by the Dockers, taking numerous intercept marks in defense for the Eagles. At the other end, West Coast missed five shots, to score just five behinds (worth a point each).
The Eagles came out firing in the third quarter, but it took nine minutes before Dom Sheed was able to add a goal, after a sparkling run and handball by Liam Ryan. The Eagles' youngster Jayden Hunt kicked a composed running goal from the boundary and Jake Waterman booted the next goal to give the Eagles hope at the end of the quarter. The problem for the Eagles during the quarter was that veterans Luke Shuey and Jeremy McGovern were already off with hamstring issues.
Alex Witherden had suffered a head knock, Jamie Cripps had broken an ankle, and Liam Ryan had damaged his ribs in a spectacular marking (catching) attempt. It seemed as if the Dockers were saving themselves by kicking the ball around and making the Eagles run. The Eagles had given their all to be eight points down at the final break. Whereas the Dockers seemed content to give their running game a rest for the stanza.
In the final quarter the Dockers re-ignited their running game, using the central corridor to deadly effect. Serong and Switlowski were in everything for the Dockers. Kelly tried valiantly for the Eagles, but without a fit player on the interchange bench, the surviving Eagles were done. Darling booted the Eagles' ninth goal in the first two minutes, after a strong mark. However, from there it was all Dockers. Brayshaw led the way with his first goal, followed by Walters, defender Haydn Young, Switkowski, Jackson, and finally Michael Frederick, who celebrated with an acrobatic mid-air summersault.
Next week the Eagles stay home to meet the re-surging Demons. The Dockers travel to Adelaide to meet the Crows, fresh from a good win over the Port Adelaide Power. There are upsets aplenty in the AFL but the Eagles beating the Demons will not be one of them. The Crows in Adelaide will be a tougher proposition for the Dockers.
Scores: Fremantle Dockers: 5.1 9.5 10.8 16.12 (108) West Coast Eagles: 5.2 5.7 8.12 9.13 (67) Best Fremantle Dockers: Serong, Brayshaw, Switkowski, Aish, Darcy West Coast Eagles: Kelly, Gaff, Hurn, Ginbey, Darling
Article last changed on Tuesday, April 04, 2023 - 5:46 PM EDT