Full stretch: Docker Chris Mayne shoots out a handpass. Photo: Getty Images
FREMANTLE 4.1 5.5 8.9 12.15 (87) GOLD COAST 2.1 3.5 4.8 5.9 (39)
Goals: Fremantle: M Barlow 2 M Walters 2 T Mzungu 2 D Pearce M Johnson P Duffield R Crowley S Hill T Sheridan. Gold Coast: S Day 2 A Hall B Matera T Lynch.
BEST Fremantle: Sandilands, Barlow, Mundy, Duffield, Fyfe, M Walters. Gold Coast: D Swallow, D Prestia, S May, J O'Meara, G Ablett, T McKenzie.
Umpires: Scott Jeffery, Chris Kamolins, Heath Ryan.
Official Crowd: 35,583 at Patersons Stadium.
A fit Aaron Sandilands reached loftier heights than usual as he led Fremantle to a 48-point win over the Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
The giant ruckman dominated with 58 hitouts - despite being rested in the final quarter - and provided an advantage too big for the Gold Coast to overcome. The Suns hadn't had to contend with Sandilands in their three previous meetings with the Dockers and weren't ready for him.
- Q4 30:11
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Walters (2.5), Barlow (2.1), Mzungu (2.0), Duffield (1.1), Sheridan (1.1), Crowley (1.0), Hill (1.0), Johnson (1.0), Pearce (1.0), Suban (0.2), Ballantyne (0.1), Fyfe (0.1), Pavlich (0.1)||Scorers||Day (2.0), Matera (1.3), Hall (1.0), Lynch (1.0), Dixon (0.2), Harbrow (0.1), Prestia (0.1), Rischitelli (0.1)|
It was just too big a task for Charlie Dixon and Tom Nicholls, and will be for most sides this season.
Despite the lofty difference in hitouts, the Suns still managed to win the clearances 49-43, led by Gary Ablett and Dion Prestia with eight apiece.
At half-time the margin was just 12 points, with the first half played in terrible conditions. But last year's runners-up had their opponents at arm's length.
Known as a tough defensive unit, they kept the Gold Coast to just 2.4 in the second half while kicking 7.10 themselves. And that's with Steven May keeping Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich goalless.
The Dockers lifted the tempo after the main break.
Less than 60 seconds after the restart, Michael Walters had extended that lead by six points, after Sandilands had won his 29th hitout, straight down to David Mundy.
Mundy had 18 touches in the second half - nine of them were contested - and showed why opposition teams will be keen to snare him at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent.
Walters had a chance to kick another goal seconds later, but missed. In fact Walters had several chances to put the Suns away throughout the night, but finished the game with 2.5.
Most of the poor weather came in the first half and there was no room for class and showmanship. Unfortunately for the Suns, they didn't have enough players with the thought process to just move the ball forward.
David Swallow did and Ablett tried, when he could get away from his shadow Ryan Crowley. But too others tried to move the ball as if it were dry and regularly came undone.
The Suns earned their own shots on goal, but in the crucial third term the Dockers were able to finish, with Walters, Tendai Mzungu and Michael Barlow kicking goals.