The Fremantle Dockers are making the most of their easy schedule, winning 18.9(117)-12.11(83) in Melbourne against the Demons on Saturday.
A poor start and rough patches throughout saw Fremantle somewhat unconvincing yet again, but they booted seven goals to nil in the final quarter to secure a win which sees them advance closer to the eight.
Matthew Pavlich might have been the best forward over the past month. His great form continued as he kicked four goals and Michael Walters, in his first game since Round 3 last season, booted three on return.
Fremantle seemed stunned early when they fell three goals behind as Stefan Martin, Jamie Bennell and Brad Green provided the early spark on the scoreboard. Fremantle managed to kick the next three before fading once again as Martin added a second to help the Dees to another three goal spurt.
Freo dominated the inside 50 count in the second, 16-5, but managed just two goals during the first half on the quarter. A late Pavlich goal, their third of the term, helped, but Fremantle’s inability to reward their own hard work meant they would trail by 13 at the half.
The Dockers showed commendable perseverance in the third. Pavlich won a marking contest despite being outmanned 2-1. He went back and kicked Freo’s third of the term, a goal that gave his side their first lead of the match. It didn’t last long though, the Dees weren’t penalised for an obvious free for McPhee allowing Bale to kick truly. Green and Bate added a couple more before Blease kicked an amazing goal on the run, shrugging a De Boer tackle and slotting it high through the sticks from the boundary. Fremantle once again fought back courtesy of an immediate Walters’ response and Pavlich cut the margin to eight with another goal shortly before the final break.
After a very quiet third term, Michael Barlow opened the fourth with a hopeful goal in congestion. It sparked another six consecutive majors as Chris Mayne played a vital role in setting up two more to Barlow and Walters with well-timed handballs. Fremantle kicked the final nine goals to run away 33-point winners.
The Dockers have two more winnable games coming up in GWS and Port Adelaide before two real tests emerge on the horizon: West Coast and Adelaide.
Walters was brilliant after being sent back to the WAFL in pre-season when Ross Lyon deemed him too out of shape while Barlow and Mundy were solid in the middle and McPharlin provided his usual presence in defence.
It was a tough day for the Demons. They lost leading ruckman Mark Jamar early in the piece which left the job up to an underdone Martin. Jamie Bennell also left the game for good with an apparent ACL injury. He was not seen again after being shouldered into the rooms.