AFL Round 21 – Fremantle v Hawthorn: The Dockers board the Rottnest Ferry

Fremantle versus Hawthorn

2.40pm  Sunday 17 August 2014

Patersons Stadium, Subiaco

Patrick Smith


Years ago Perth holiday -makers used to catch the Rottnest Ferry to the island, the old boat wallowing through choppy swells, doing the job but not fast or pretty. When a new hydrofoil was introduced everything changed.  Once outside the heads the new boat leaps and skims like a seabird.

So with the Dockers on Sunday as they skipped away from Hawthorn at Subiaco.

For week after week they have ground out gritty but uninspiring wins, somehow clinging to a top four spot. Even Ross Lyons announced that their brand of football was not going to get them anywhere in the finals.

Today they soared.

This game started in predictable fashion. A quick flurry from Fremantle with Sandilands instrumental in two early goals, then Hawthorn slipped into their running game to pepper the forward line. Luckily for the Dockers Hawthorn were inaccurate and at quarter time held only a narrow lead despite having 11 scoring shots to 3. Scores were 4-7 to 3 goals. The signs looked ominous.

Then the New Rottnest ferry turned up. Fremantle started to win from the centre with Mundy, Fyfe and Barlow all wrestling the ball free and driving it to the forwards- and today they had some potent forwards.  Pavlich found his form of old with sharp leads, towering marks and a laser- like boot that many thought had vanished. Walters was back and sparkled around the packs to create chances for himself and teammates.

Fyfe, for all his frustration, played some inspiring football. He covered ground quickly and worked deep into the forward zone to add to the Dockers’ scoring avenues and when he attacked the ball he locked onto it like a pitbull terrier. He showed some exquisite skill and finished with two goals. Pity about the suspension but he will learn to stay cool.

Two key factors in this crucial win were that every player contributed to the maximum and they were subtle in a way I hadn’t seen before.

All the experienced players just seemed on song – Johnson steady as a rock up back; Barlow strong and elusive; Mayne back to his fighting, desperate best to force turnovers – even Danyle Pearce kicked accurately. But the bonus was the new crop of players who lifted to a new level. Silvagni, Crozier, Taberner , Neale, Sutcliffe and Spurr have always impressed with effort but today they showed real polish in their roles to make this a complete outfit.

Fremantle also played smarter football. They often tapped  the ball rather than grabbing it and allowing the tackle. From free kicks and marks they quickly played on to a running teammate. As a result they caught the Hawks off-guard over and over – something the Hawks do so well themselves.

Then Stephen Hill turned on some magic. Time and again in the third quarter he broke loose and delivered that silky left foot pass like a laser beam to a teammate or to score. When Hill runs free he changes stride like a cheetah and floats- such poetry in motion is spine-tingling and alone is worth the ticket price.

Not spoken but surely in the Dockers minds was a resurrection – if Pav can rise so can we. And they did in every aspect. They ran wide and fast, tackled fiercely and often, flicked slick handballs to running players and clever passes to advantage positions and not just for distance.  Suddenly everything clicked into rhythm for the Dockers and what a glorious sight it was.

At the same time Hawthorn were still playing champagne football  with their short deadly passes and line-bursting runs that kept the scoreboard humming. But at the other end the Dockers were matching and outscoring them while the Fremantle backs wore them down with persistent tight attention and the midfield continued to sweep the ball away from Sandiland’s dominant ruck work.

This was a great game of football: exquisite individual skills, superb team play from both sides, outstanding effort and at the end a worthy victory for Fremantle.

All aboard the Rottnest Ferry for the finals.

Fremantle:   3.0   10.3    15.6    17.8     ( 110)

Hawthorn :   4.7   10.9   11.11   13.13    (91)

Goals:                                                                                                                                                       Fremantle: M Pavlich 5; S Hill 3; N Fyfe, H Crozier 2; A Sandilands,D Pearce, M Barlow, M Taberner,  Walters.

Hawthorn: P Puopolo 4; D Hale, L Breust 2; J Gunston, J Simpkin, L Hodge, L Shiels, S Burgoyne

Best:  Fremantle:  D Mundy, S Hill, M Barlow, M Pavlich, A Sandilands, M Johnson

Hawthorn: J Lewis, L Hodge, W Langford, P Puopolo, S Burgoyne, S Mitchell

Umpires: Troy  Pannell, Robert Findlay, Dean Margetts                      Crowd: 38,506

Our votes: Fyfe, Hill, Pavlich





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