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Hayden Young marks
Hayden Young (file photo/AFANA)

The Fremantle Dockers defeated the desperate Adelaide Crows in a Good Friday game that was anything but good for the struggling Crows. The Crows, who were robbed of a place in the finals last year by a goal umpiring error that could not be corrected, are now winless from three starts. In contrast, the Dockers have made their best start in nine years. The game was a tense struggle for three-and-a-bit quarters before Fremantle broke free of the Adelaide pressure, to hammer home four final-quarter goals to the delight of the record non-derby crowd of fifty-one thousand raucous fans. (Ed. note: "Derby" games against the other local team, the West Coast Eagles, are usually close to a sell-out.)

In near perfect conditions the game started at a cracking pace. Adelaide was the first to score a goal (worth six points) after bringing the ball deep from defense, using a quick transition to the running Ben Keays. Both teams missed gettable shots on goal in the first quarter, which set the pattern for the rest of the night. Michael Walters benefitted from a quick transition from a kick in when Nat Fyfe and Hayden Young combined to move the ball to Walters who kicked truly. Two minutes later, Ned McHenry was tackled high in the right forward pocket. His free kick gave the Crows their second goal. A similar free kick to Matt Taberner at the other end gave the Dockers their second goal. The quarter was notable for the end-to-end transitions by both teams, as the defenders thrived in the pressure. The quarter finished with frenetic defense by the Crows as they successfully held out the Dockers in the last line.

Alex Pearce clears for Fremantle
Alex Pearce (file photo/AFANA)

In the second quarter the Dockers had the ball in their half for nearly two thirds of the time. However, their poor kicking turned the ball over to the Crows too easily. When the Crows did go forward, they were stopped by the resolute defense of Luke Ryan and Alex Pearce. Pearce dominated the Crows' spearhead Taylor (Tex) Walker, who had a poor day and finished with only one behind from seven disposals. Adelaide was well-served in the middle with Matt Crouch, Jordan Dawson, and Rory Laird giving plenty of drive. Rory O'Brien was too big in the ruck for the Docker combination of Luke Jackson and Josh Treacy. However, the Dockers broke even on clearances, courtesy the strong body work of Hayden Young and Nat Fyfe. Chris Burgess scored an early goal for the Crows and Walters and Jye Amiss got one each at the end of the quarter for the Dockers. Amiss's goal resulted from strong work by Hayden Young at a wing throw-in. Young is now establishing himself as a classy midfielder with a searing kick. The pressure from both teams was solid but the defensive and offensive tackling from the Dockers shifted to another level.

The torrid struggle continued in the third quarter. Neither side took a backward step. It took nine minutes for the first goal to be scored. Adelaide's Lachlan Sholl vindicated his return to the team with a classy snap under pressure. A few minutes later Jye Amiss scored a similar Docker goal as the Crow defenders applied pressure. There were no easy kicks in the forward lines as players pushed around the ball. Big Irish born player Mark Keane, playing just his eleventh game, was strong in the air for the Crows and finished with eleven marks (catches) for the match. The Dockers switched play across the ground in an attempt to work forward. Adelaide opted for the more direct route whenever they attacked. Neither method worked particularly well, as tall defenders ruled the air and small defenders were always at the fall of the ball.

The Dockers scored a major in the fourth quarter with thirteen minutes of the match left. Michael Frederick stood-up in a tackle to break free and handpass to Bailey Banfield, who booted a valuable goal. Five minutes later, Treacy marked a Young kick and slotted a ripper from fifty meters, to hold off the Crows. Taberner marked and kicked the sealer with five minutes left.

dees v crows
Tex Walker (file photo/AFANA)

The Crows stopped running and the contest was nearly over. Salt was added to injury for the Crows when a defensive kick by young defender Max Michalanney traveled twenty meters to Docker livewire Michael Frederick, who marked and goaled from close range.

Next week both teams travel to Adelaide for the Gather Round. The Crows will battle the Melbourne Demons in a blockbuster at Adelaide Oval on Thursday. Another loss for Crows would be a disaster. The undefeated Dockers will meet the undefeated Carlton Blues at the same venue on Saturday, in a match that will test both teams.

Fremantle Dockers: 2.2 4.7 5.12 9.15 (69)
Adelaide Crows:    2.5 3.5 4.8  4.10 (34)

Fremantle Dockers: Young, Pearce, Ryan, Serong, Clark
Adelaide Crows:    Laird, Dawson, Crouch, Keane, Smith

Article last changed on Friday, March 29, 2024 - 2:45 PM EDT

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