AFL Round 21 – Fremantle v Hawthorn: Freo Finds Form

Fremantle vs Hawthorn

4.40pm, Sunday August 17th 2014

Patersons Stadium, Perth

 

Ross Lyon strikes me as one of the smartest coaches in the AFL, and a 19-point victory over my beloved Hawks only confirms that for me.

Whilst a shocking performance against the Saints a month ago was startling for most and had many questioning their premiership credentials, the last two weeks have shown the doubters that you cannot write off any Ross Lyon coached side – and if you do, you do so at your peril. He is in full control of his side and has them starting to play some of their best footy at just the right time. They didn’t get a win against Geelong last week, but the signs were certainly there that the Fremantle of 2013 was starting to resurface.

Readying myself to watch the broadcast of the game at The Beach Hotel in Albert Park, I was hoping for a better performance from the Hawks than my own side yesterday. The University Blacks under 19’s have struggled to fill a bench in the last month or so, and whilst the efforts from all involved have been commendable in that time, the results have been far from close.

Hearing that Ballantyne was a late withdrawal for the Dockers added to my optimism. Generally Fremantle like to constrict the opposition, daring sides to try and crack a team orientated defence that Lyon has become renowned for during his tenure in Perth. The Hawks in recent times have been able to counter this with numerous goal kicking options both forward and through the midfield, however the absence of Jarryd Roughead was telling – particularly in the second half – when firepower (much like the Uni Blacks’) was lacking in crucial stages.

Hale and Burgoyne converted long range chances early to grab the momentum, but Fremantle responded through Pavlich and Sandilands. Fyfe was attracting the wrong kind of attention from the umpires this week for a change, conceding a 50m penalty and an off the ball free kick which gifted the Hawks two more majors before the first break. Four goals and seven behinds didn’t reflect how much Hawthorn had dictated terms, and ultimately inaccuracy in front of goal would prove to be the difference between the two sides.

The shootout continued well into the second quarter; an astonishing 20 goals were kicked before the main break (only 19 were kicked in last year’s grand final). Fremantle appeared to play even more free-wheeling football than they did last week against Geelong, and it was paying rich dividends for them. If they can replicate that same attacking dimension for the rest of the season, a premiership could well be within their reach.

Every team – whether it’s an AFL side or a local park team – has a player that it just couldn’t go without when the whips are cracking: Jordan Lewis is certainly this payer for the Hawks. He has had an outstanding year, and can go unnoticed when sharing a midfield with the likes of Hodge and Mitchell. His 44 disposals and seven clearances were instrumental in keeping Hawthorn in touch until the Dockers eventually broke the resistance late in the third term.

Ultimately the MRP-enforced holiday of Roughead was the point of difference. While Matthew Pavlich kicked five goals and clunked contested marks regularly at one end, Hawthorn just looked a little bit thin in their front half, and the extra reliance placed upon on Hale, Puopolo, Breust and Gunston to kick a winning score proved too great. This problem will hopefully be eased when ‘Roughie’ returns next week, but with Harry Taylor in red-hot form there are no guarantees.

Fremantle however had goal kickers everywhere, not just in their front six. Successful teams need goal kicking midfielders and when the Dockers can manufacture seven goals between Fyfe, Hill, Barlow and Pearce, they look so much more potent in their front half.

Ruing the Hawk’s missed opportunities over a Coke during the last minute or so of the game as the ‘FRRREEEEOOOOO’ soccer-style chant rolled around Patersons Stadium, one thing is clear: the Dockers are far from out of contention this year. Expert commentators far more qualified than I have them a step or two behind Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong, but I think that’s exactly the way Ross Lyon and his players like it.

They might have to do it from fourth spot on the ladder, but on the basis of this performance, a maiden premiership for the purple haze and Ross Lyon may just be closer than many think.

 

FREMANTLE          3.0   10.3    15.6      17.8   (110)

HAWTHORN           4.7   10.9    11.12   13.13   (91)

 

GOALS

Fremantle: Pavlich 5, Hill 3, Fyfe 2, Crozier 2, Sandilands, Walters, Pearce, Taberner, Barlow

Hawthorn: Puopolo 4, Breust 2, Hale 2, Burgoyne, Hodge, Shiels, Gunston, Simpkin

 

BEST

Fremantle: Mundy, Barlow, Hill, Pavlich, Neale, Fyfe, Walters

Hawthorn: Lewis, Puopolo, Hodge, Breust, Burgoyne

 

Votes: 3 – Mundy (Fremantle), 2 – Barlow (Fremantle), 1 – Lewis (Hawthorn)

About Jeremy Hill

Devoted Hawthorn supporter and University Blacks footballer who spends more time watching, reading and writing about sport than is considered healthy. Like most people my age, I'm 20.

Comments

  1. neilbelford says

    I think that sums it up Jeremy – as your votes say, Mundy is back. He has been off the boil for quite a while, but yesterday he dominated. For two weeks in a row Freo have controlled the midfield. Like Geelong the week before, Hawthorn had no answer in there, and that more than anything else puts Freo back in the September frame.

  2. Neil – Having called the Dockers as gawn a few weeks back, I reluctantly concede that you are one of 3 teams that can win it. Walters back gives some forward creativity, and with Ballantyne will be a handful.
    But above all the injection of youth in Sutcliffe, Taberner and Crozier has given you a lot more run. Suban and DeBoer were just too stodgy and predictable.
    Lyon is a very smart coach. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if you can roll Sydney in the first week of the finals.
    How will you cope with Buddy and their talls with McPharlin past his prime?

  3. David Zampatti says

    Bad day for the Zeds yesterday. Our little four-legged bloke finally achieved his lifetime ambition, slipped his lead and went in hard at a passing car. Call it his Achilles heel, say he, like Icarus, flew too close to the sun.
    Maybe his last thought was “Got one at last!”. Hope so.
    So didn’t get to the game, but want to thank the boys for a couple hours respite from the grieving.

    Oh, his name was Mundy. His namesake did him proud.

  4. DZ – Shandy sends his condolences.
    I knew there had to be a reason for your boys sparkling form.

  5. sean gorman says

    Jeremy – nice measured piece. I was very apprehensive about this game as i think hawthorn have won the mind games for some mime now against us. Also I think the others that don’t mind the whips cracking – other than PB at the Hellfire club on half price Tuesday – are Hodge, Mitchell and Shaun B who are just four of the best players you would want.

    Our strength yesterday cam from the first realise being more assured despite our first three or four touches (as a team being fumbles resulting in the ball going the other way. Luckily for us you could not convert.

    Neil I disagree that Mundy has been off – he has played some great games of late but is overshadowed by Fyfe, Barlow, Hill et al a lot of the time and this can look like he has had an off game when he has been grinding away on the inside.

    Freo just need to play four qtrs now.

    Watching Puopolo getting ragged dolled by AS was a highlight. He probably felt like a Bilbo Baggins being shook down by a mountain.

  6. Gregor Lewis says

    Ahh!

    Ross Lyon.

    If I wasn’t such a mad-keen Hawker, I’d be one of those following this man’s delectable coaching imprimatur to the middle of the Great Sandy Desert, if for some improbable reason he decided to move there.

    If I can co-opt the Mexican brew, Tecate, this is ‘Un Gran Entrenador Con Caracter’, whose heavy imprint is reflected so truly by his teams when they’re at their best.

    Well may he have smiled – a quirk of a vast black amusement – secure in the knowledge of what he had seen (despite losing) against Geelong, and knowing the integrity at the heart of his team was sound, after being given multiple occasions to doubt.

    And it was a combination of that, along with 2014 Hawthorn’s propensity to blow the momentum, like a $2 hooker in a backalley assignation AND give up multiple cheap scoring opportunities, while brushing the dust from their knees.

    I wanted my Hawks to ‘play to win’. They did THAT!

    So, I’m not too fussed. Fremantle had to show variety & acumen, along with their integrital pressure and desire, because we asked them.

    We lost to the better team, playing better (and different) than they have all year.

    As long as we keep playing to win, then I won’t worry about September.

    We have plenty to look forward to in the rematch, should it eventuate.

    Not least of which is riding a wave of momentum we unfailingly generate, all the way to shore – which we haven’t done against the Top Teams, this year … At all. Even when we’ve won.

    Next week …

    grl

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