Matthew Pavlich handballs as Cats Harry Taylor and Cory Enright approach. Photo: Getty Images
FREMANTLE 5.3 7.11 10.15 13.18 (96) GEELONG 0.3 3.5 6.7 9.10 (64)
Goals - Fremantle: M Pavlich 3, H Ballantyne 3, T Mzungu 2, N Fyfe, P Duffield, M Barlow, T Sheridan, D Pearce. Geelong: T Hawkins 3, T Varcoe 2, G Horlin-Smith, J Bartel, J Murdoch.
Best - Fremantle: D Mundy, S Hill, N Fyfe, R Crowley, M Barlow, M Johnson. Geelong: J Selwood, G Horlin-Smith, M Duncan, C Guthrie, J Kelly, J Bartel, S Motlop.
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Jeff Dalgleish, Ray Chamberlain
Crowd: 38,565 at Patersons Stadium.
Fremantle was determined to celebrate Matthew Pavlich’s 300th AFL game with a win against Geelong at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
But the 32-point victory over the Cats may prove to be the catalyst for the Dockers to spark a challenge at the top four.
Fremantle players get set to run through an appropriately captioned banner before the game. Photo: Getty Images
- Q4 28:49
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Pavlich (3.3), Ballantyne (3.2), Mzungu (2.2), Barlow (1.2), Fyfe (1.1), Pearce (1.1), Duffield (1.0), Sheridan (1.0), Clarke (0.1), Hill (0.1), Sandilands (0.1), Suban (0.1)||Scorers||Hawkins (3.0), Varcoe (2.0), Bartel (1.2), Motlop (1.1), Horlin-Smith (1.0), Murdoch (1.0), Duncan (0.1), Johnson (0.1)|
It could also result in questions being asked of the usually unflappable Cats, who have been less than impressive over the past month.
Having had the bye last week, the Cats would have been expected to finish the game the stronger of the two sides, which is what happened.
After trailing by 33-points at the final change, they got the margin back to 19 points with six minutes to play, but the Dockers were able to stave off the challenge.
Losses now to the Dockers and Port Adelaide, plus a five-point victory over Richmond in round seven have the Cats sitting fourth on the ladder. They sat on top after round five.
And they have two form sides, North Melbourne and Sydney, to play in the next two rounds.
The Dockers go into their bye with a 5-4 record and are just one win short of where they were at the same stage last season, when they went on to play in a grand final.
But they won’t always get away with kicking 5.12 over two terms as they did after quarter-time.
Geelong’s usually swift ball movement that would take advantage of an opposition’s poor kicking was non-existent. It was uncharacteristic in the way it turned the ball over when pushing forward to produce a shot at goal.
Perhaps the absence of the usual dominant performance from Steve Johnson was the problem. He became the latest victim of Dockers stopper Ryan Crowley in the most entertaining part of the night’s contest.
There were a couple of strange free kicks paid with the pair in close vicinity, but Crowley easily took the points, keeping Johnson to 20 touches, well below this season’s average of 30.4.
It meant Cats captain Joel Selwood was pretty much left to play a lone hand against a Dockers midfield that showed good pace.
David Mundy was again outstanding, while Stephen Hill played his best game of the season and Michael Barlow and Nat Fyfe were again consistent.
But the week in Perth had centered around Pavlich. And fittingly, he marked the ball inside 30 seconds of the opening bounce and kicked a goal from the boundary line on the tightest of angles.
He sparked the Subiaco crowd and fired the Dockers into a 5.3 to 0.3 opening term – where the damage was really done.
It was the first time the Cats had lost an opening term this season, but it wasn’t the first time speedy opposition players had opened them up through the midfield on the rebound; rebounds from Geelong turnovers.
Pavlich gave the crowd a second highlight in the opening term, his second goal also being his 600th career major. He became only the 28th player to reach the milestone.
The Cats 0.3 in the opening term came about despite having 11inside-50 entries.
Jimmy Bartel contributed two of those behinds from shots that he would usually nail – but Tom Hawkins and Travis Varcoe failed to touch the ball for the quarter.
Hawkins’ first possession came within 30 seconds of the bounce to start the second quarter and he put the Cats on the board with their first goal – and his first of three for the night. Varcoe got the margin back to 20 points with another goal five minutes later.
But the Dockers continued to control the ball and had they converted better than the 2.8 they managed in the second term, the game would have been over at half-time.