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Fremantle stuns Geelong with maiden Melbourne finals win

Fremantle stuns last seasons premiers Geelong with an upset 16 point win in their elimination final.

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FREMANTLE 5.7 8.9 12.11 14.12 (96) GEELONG 0.1 3.5 6.9 11.14 (80)
GOALS Fremantle: Pavlich 6, Ballantyne 3, Walters 2, Pearce, De Boer, Crowley. Geelong: Mackie 2, Hunt 2, Christensen, Taylor, Selwood, Duncan, Stokes, Vardy, Motlop.
BEST Fremantle: Pavlich, Mundy, McPhee, Walters, Barlow, Hill, Dawson. Geelong: Selwood, Mackie, Bartel, T Hunt, Taylor, J Hunt.
REPORT James Kelly (Geelong) rough conduct against Tendai Mzungu (Fremantle).
UMPIRES T Pannell, B Rosebury, J Bannister.
CROWD 44,460 at MCG.

SELDOM, if ever, have the expectations about an AFL final been turned on their head as spectacularly as they were in the first 30 minutes at the MCG. The scoreline at quarter-time looked like you might have expected. Just with the teams the wrong way round.

Fremantle's opening burst in an elimination final few expected it to win, let alone dominate to the extent it did early, was little short of stunning. This wasn't just a case of a warm favourite being caught on the hop. Geelong was completely dominated by the Dockers in every conceivable facet of the game. Had it not been for just one flaw, a little bit of inaccuracy, the game would have been effectively over before it had barely begun.

Cat wrapped: Geelong's Mathew Stokes is wrapped up by Fremantle players last night.

Cat wrapped: Geelong's Mathew Stokes is wrapped up by Fremantle players last night. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Right from the start, Freo was not only clearly ''on'', but had a fanatical intensity for which even the most seasoned Cats had no answer. It started at the top, with skipper Matthew Pavlich having the first three shots at goal. The first, he shanked. The second, following a beautifully crafted pass from Michael Walters, was spot on. The third, after he out-bustled Tom Lonergan, was a stroll.

Even as the prolific David Mundy created his second goal in a couple of minutes with a quick kick to Hayden Ballantyne, and Ryan Crowley converted another set shot to make it four goals to zip, you still felt this was more an aberration, or at best a cameo. Perhaps the non-plussed Cats thought it, too. And that was a huge mistake. Because there was far more to come.

The stats by the 20-minute mark said plenty. Fremantle had just taken its 10th mark inside 50, as many as Geelong usually concedes for an entire game. It had doubled the Cats for forward-50 entries. Beaten them for contested ball and even more convincingly for the uncontested stuff. This was far from the dour, stodgy outfit people presumed Ross Lyon would send into the fray.

Purple haze ... Michael Walters celebrates one of his two goals.

Purple haze ... Michael Walters celebrates one of his two goals. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

The Dockers ran, spread and carved huge holes in the Cats' defences. By the end of the quarter they'd had the ball in their forward half nearly 80 per cent of game time. The margin was 36 points, with the Cats held goalless.

It blew out further to 48 after Matt De Boer and Clancee Pearce made it seven goals to zip. Zac Dawson wasn't giving Tom Hawkins a look in, and he wasn't alone. Mundy and Michael Barlow were superb, Ballantyne his usual nuisance value, the still-raw Walters inventive and dangerous near goal.

But in a way what happened then was perhaps even more impressive on the part of the Dockers. The seemingly inevitable Geelong revival did eventually come. In fact, several times. And on each occasion, Fremantle was able to quell the uprising.

There was the Cats' three goals in four minutes into the second term to drag the deficit back under five goals. That was the cue for Walters to snatch one off the ground after Joel Corey had been pinned in his defensive goal square.

It happened again at the start of the second half, goals to Steven Motlop and Mathew Stokes making it a very gettable 20-point gap, the smallish but very parochial crowd finding its voice, the knowing looks exchanged.

Instead, the Dockers slammed on four of the next five, Pavlich, in surely one his very best and certainly his most significant game, again taking charge at the opportune moment.

His fourth for the night was another strong mark out in front. The fifth, however, was an absolute gem, keeping his feet in a one-on-one with a second opponent, Harry Taylor, giving him the slip, running in on the tightest of angles, and after considering squaring the ball, taking the initiative and drilling it home. Ballantyne pumped another lethal shot into Geelong's heart with a follow-up on the run, and Walters coolly stepped clear and restored the margin to 39 points. The Dockers stood tall twice more in the final term, too, as the Cats gave it one final, desperate shot. The ineffective James Podsiadly went back, Taylor and long-kicking Josh Hunt forward.

Again the September masters loomed ominously with goals to Andrew Mackie and Allen Christensen, back to four goals with 20-odd minutes left. Again, Freo struck on the counter-attack, Ballantyne relishing the opportunity to charge in and hammer another nail in the Cats coffin, now just about completely closed. And after Hunt had revived the tiniest flickers of a Geelong heartbeat with two goals, the gap now 17 points with just under five minutes still to play, Pavlich fittingly delivered the last rites, driving home his sixth.

Fremantle hadn't just clung on after getting off to a flyer. It had set the tone, braced itself for a worthy opponent to hit back, and gone punch for punch, always finding the appropriate answer when challenged. In 18 seasons in AFL company, no victory has come close to this one for enshrining not only the Dockers' football credentials, but their character.

Geelong, for its part, fought on, but couldn't find when it mattered most, at the start, the same sort of intensity with which it set Sydney on its heels last week. Skipper Joel Selwood couldn't have done a lot more, certainly. Jimmy Bartel came good after a slow and fumbly beginning. Taylor Hunt tried to lift his team as best he could. But the Cats' forward artillery was effectively muted by Dawson and co. Their defence was never allowed to peel off and distribute the ball with any sort of ease, the Dockers' forward pressure red-hot, Matthew Scarlett suddenly looking every bit his 33 years again, Lonergan a trier but simply beaten by a champion in Pavlich's brilliance.

And so Geelong's expected historic charge at a premiership from the unlikeliest of positions was snuffed out before it had even begun. You won't find too many people prepared even today to consider the possibility of the team which killed the Cats' dream performing a similar miracle. But after last night, who can say with certainty. Lyon's team sure is developing a taste for defying the odds, and its many doubters.

VOCAL NON-LOCALS

As you'd expect, the crowd of 44,460 was dominated in no small way by Geelong supporters. But what fans were there on behalf of the purple army certainly didn't keep a respectful silence. The Freo chant dominated the barracking stakes, even before the game had begun, and reached a crescendo as it became apparent in the final few minutes that a historic away finals win was about to be recorded. The performance from the Fremantle fans was just as impressive as the one by its players.

UNDER SIEGE

While it has lifted its scoring capacity significantly in recent games, Fremantle still isn't seen as one of the AFL's more potent scoring machines. But the Dockers mustered 12 scoring shots to just one in the opening-term blitz, putting Geelong's defence under the type of pressure it has rarely known for years. By late in the first term, Freo has taken 10 marks inside its forward 50. That figure is what the Cats usually concede in an entire game.

ZAC ON TRACK

Zac Dawson still has his share of critics. But the former Hawk and Saint turned in one of the finest performances of his 94-game career on one of the competition's most intimidating propositions in Tom Hawkins, holding the previously rampant Cat key forward goalless, and to just nine possessions and three marks. Ross Lyon's liking for the much-maligned backman makes a lot more sense to a lot more people now.

QUARTER BY QUARTER
Quarter 1
A Matthew Pavlich goal got Fremantle underway five minutes in. The Dockers started well, chopping off balls in defence and moving it precisely upfield. They turned a couple of the Cats' early chances into messy, unfulfilled ones and went two goals ahead when Pavlich outmarked Tom Lonergan, got up and scored from the goal line. Hayden Ballantyne's brave mark made it a three-goal lead, then Ryan Crowley and Pavlich again made it five by the 21-minute mark. Dockers by 36 points

Quarter 2
The Dockers controlled play, failing only to put the Cats away even at this early stage. A Matt de Boer set shot, 10 minutes in, put them on that path although the Cats were getting a touch more of the ball. Behinds to Tom Hawkins and Allen Christensen were the Cats' only scores. Down by 48 points, Andrew Mackie marked and scored Geelong's first goal, while Joel Selwood and Mitch Duncan goaled soon after. A Michael Walters' soccer goal interrupted that charge and the Cats still faced a massive challenge at half-time. Dockers by 34 points

Quarter 3
Fremantle began with a three-man forward line, indicating a desire to shut things down, but goals to Steven Motlop and Mathew Stokes had the Dockers on the back foot. A third, to Nathan Vardy, kept Geelong's score ticking over but the Dockers continued to find room to move. Two Pavlich goals and a running shot from Ballantyne kept the Cats at arm's length, before another Walters goal took them further ahead. A Lonergan shot hit the post, Duncan's shot went right, Zac Dawson outmarked Hawkins and the game seemed over. Dockers by 38

Quarter 4
The Cats rolled the dice, throwing Harry Taylor forward and moving James Podsiadly back but after six minutes they'd only made up two points. They weren't done with: Christensen scored off a set shot to bring the margin to four goals and Josh Hunt's shot slammed into a post. Again, Fremantle broke the flow with a goal of its own; Stephen Hill, Walters and Ballantyne teamed up to score. Hunt nailed his second but time was running out. That was as close as they got in one of the biggest September upsets in years. Dockers win by 16

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AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 13:45BA
WBU vs STK 14:10ES
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ADE 17:10MS
MEL vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs BRI 15:20ES
PTA vs WCE 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs STK 13:45Adelaide Oval
HAW vs MEL 14:10MCG
CAR vs GWS 16:35ES
SYD vs GEE 19:20ANZ
WCE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
RIC vs COL 15:20MCG
BRI vs PTA 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs WCE 13:45ES
GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs COL 16:35MS
HAW vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs NTH 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
PTA vs RIC 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STK 13:10G
COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 5 5 0 0 151.10 20
Collingwood 5 4 1 0 147.53 16
Western Bulldogs 5 4 1 0 104.75 16
Hawthorn 5 3 2 0 149.86 12
West Coast Eagles 5 3 2 0 145.92 12
Sydney Swans 5 3 2 0 118.26 12
Adelaide Crows 5 3 2 0 111.40 12
GWS Giants 5 3 2 0 102.87 12
View all
 
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