Dockers' win comes at a cost
Looking up: Melbourne's Mark Jamar (left) battles with Dockers giant Aaron Sandilands last night. Photo: Getty Images
FREMANTLE 3.5 7.7 11.14 14.17 (101) MELBOURNE 1.3 2.5 4.8 5.10 (40)
GOALS Fremantle: Ballantyne 3, Sandilands 2, Griffin 2, Pavlich 2, Mzungu 2, Mayne, Mundy, Walters. Melbourne: Fitzpatrick 2, Sellar, Jones, Blease.
BEST Fremantle: Fyfe, Mundy, Barlow, Hill, Sandilands, Pearce, Johnson. Melbourne: Grimes, Sylvia, Trengove, McDonald, McKenzie, Nicholson.
UMPIRES Dalgleish, Farmer, Leppard.
CROWD 32,687 at Patersons Stadium.
FREMANTLE will play Geelong in an elimination final in Melbourne next weekend after a 61-point win against Melbourne at Patersons Stadium last night. But the Dockers are likely to be without prime defender Luke McPharlin, who appeared to injure a hamstring in the third quarter of the 14.17 (101) to 5.10 (40) win.
Led by ruckman Aaron Sandilands and midfielders David Mundy and Nat Fyfe, Fremantle got control of the match early and then strangled the Demons to record its eighth win in nine games.
There was no hint of the Dockers trying to manipulate the scoreboard to achieve a home final against West Coast - not that North Melbourne had left much wriggle room anyway with a lacklustre win over Greater Western Sydney.
And there was no hint of trying to manipulate their attacks to deliver a Coleman Medal for captain Matthew Pavlich either. Pavlich kicked two goals and will end the home-and-away season tied with Cat Tom Hawkins on 62. Richmond's Jack Riewoldt (59) will have the last right of reply against Port Adelaide today.
Fremantle had started the game needing to keep its winning margin to about two goals or less if it wanted to stay in Perth next weekend to face the Eagles in a historic western derby final.
After 2½ minutes, the Dockers had their two-goal margin. Chris Mayne had kicked the first after a 50-metre penalty handed him a set shot 30 metres from goal and Tendai Mzungu had added a second a minute later. The rest of the first quarter, though, was a stalemate, broken only by a memorable snap shot from Melbourne's Nathan Jones from deep in the forward pocket to get the Demons on the scoreboard, and the equally memorable dwarfing of the 194-centimetre Tom MacDonald by the 211-centimetre Sandilands in the goal square for Fremantle's third goal.
The Demons crept within a goal when Jack Fitzpatrick kicked the opening goal of the second quarter. But in the latter stages Fremantle asserted control, kicking four unanswered goals to take a 32-point margin into the main break.
Mzungu kicked the goal that helped break a good 10-minute run by the Demons, then Fremantle's best forwards of the past two months, Hayden Ballantyne, Pavlich and Michael Walters all hit the scoreboard in a 10-minute burst that gave the Dockers control of the match.
The forward received brilliant service from midfielder Mundy, whose 17 first-half possessions included six forward 50 entries to make him the game's most damaging player.
Jack Grimes, Colin Sylvia and Daniel Nicholson had all worked hard but the Demons were being badly beaten in contested ball, spanked in the ruck, where Sandilands had 26 hitouts by half-time on top of 10 touches and a goal, and outpointed in their own forward line.
McPharlin's game was over by midway through the third quarter, hobbling to the bench with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
But the Dockers showed no signs of backing off. They were only scoring steadily, but the Demons were barely scoring at all.
Matthew Pavlich needed three goals to head Geelong's Tom Hawkins but encountered stiff opposition from James Frawley. Pavlich didn't kick his first goal until the 25-minute mark of the second term but he got the goal to tie Hawkins early in the third.
It is debatable whether there is a player the Dockers could afford to lose less than Luke McPharlin but the power defender sent a major scare through the camp when he hobbled off in the third quarter. His fitness will be monitored in the week.
A CHANCE FOR GROVER?
The untimely injury to McPharlin may open the door for veteran Antoni Grover, who will retire at the end of the season.