Fremantle Dockers depth comes to the fore as they overcome Gold Coast Suns
Six days after Optus Stadium became a battlefield, a replenished Fremantle discovered the depth to patch over their holes and keep their slim finals hopes alive.
To say it wasn’t pretty might be an understatement, but it was ultimately effective as the undermanned Dockers defeated Gold Coast by 27 points, 11.10 (76) to 6.13 (49), on Saturday.
With key players absent at either end of the ground and skipper Nat Fyfe missing in the middle, the Dockers would have been heartened by who stepped up.
More Fremantle news:
- Three-word analysis of every Docker in gritty win
- Who impressed and who didn’t as Freo dispel Suns
- Michael Barlow: Lyon the man for Pies job
Alex Pearce was tremendous in his return from a knee injury as he held Gold Coast spearhead Ben King goalless for the first time this season, while at the other end 18-year-old Josh Treacy enjoyed a big second half to stoke hopes Fremantle might have nabbed a bargain in the rookie draft.
Then there was David Mundy being David Mundy, kicking two goals to go with a game high four centre clearances and 20 touches.
The Suns kicked the game’s opening goal through Chris Burgess, but it would be the only joy for the visitors in a first half that settled in as an ugly arm wrestle.
Fremantle forward Travis Colyer kicked the only goal of the second term and it was just as well he nailed his banana from the pocket, after choosing to take a low-percentage advantage when the impressive Sean Darcy had been infringed in a ruck contest. Colyer’s sheepish grin after the goal told of his relief.
The sides mustered just four goals between them until half-time, with the Dockers leading by eight points on the back of Gold Coast’s wayward 1.8 to go with a couple of shots that went out on the full.
The match finally sprung to life in the third term, with Michael Walters’ set shot from near the boundary line after the three-quarter time siren a much needed injection of class and an exclamation mark on a quarter that brought 10 goals.
The Dockers got six of them to establish a comfortable buffer at the final change, with the strength of hulking teenager Treacy at one end providing the answer to the guile of Izak Rankine at the other.
Both forwards kicked two goals for the term, and Treacy narrowly missed getting a third after taking a powerful grab to follow up his second.
The Dockers didn’t allow the Suns to really threaten in the last, though the visitors would have bene closer with some better finishing.
There was no easing back into things for Alex Pearce, who played his first senior game since suffering a knee injury at the MCG in round one.
As the only recognised key defender in the team after Brennan Cox and Griffin Logue went out, he was the logical opponent for Ben King and was up to the task.
Holding the impressive King goalless, Pearce’s desperate smother on his opponent in the final term illustrated his determination to do the job.
It was a dog of a day for King, who missed a chance to break his duck from point blank range in the dying stages. Pearce had 16 disposals and took seven marks, while holding King to seven touches and 0.2.
Gold Coast wonder kid Matt Rowell’s return began in unusual fashion, sprinting from the interchange bench into the forward line after not realising he was meant to be starting the game on the field.
Rowell got his chances in the centre square and even got some attention at stoppages from tagger Caleb Serong at times in a sign of the respect the Dockers held the teenager in.
Rowell didn’t have a big influence but should be better for the run after having 14 disposals and three clearances.
A BREAK AT LAST
It’s been a torrid opening 13 rounds for the Dockers, who have been battered by waves of injuries since the lead-up to round one.
They go to a well-deserved bye at 6-7, off the pace in terms of their finals aspirations but with the door still slightly ajar - which is better than the alternative.
If Fremantle are to make a charge, they need to make their move straight after the bye with their fixture opening up.
The Dockers will be the first team to take on Robert Harvey’s new-look Collingwood in round 15, scheduled for Marvel Stadium depending on football resuming in Victoria. They then face Carlton at home in round 16 and Hawthorn in Tasmania a week later.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails