Dominant: David Mundy of the Dockers attempts to break away from Ryan Schoenmakers of the Hawks. Photo: Getty Images
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson was upbeat on Sunday despite the Hawks relinquishing a place in the top two of the AFL ladder after a 19-point defeat against Fremantle.
‘‘We’re not going to cry too much about this loss. We didn’t play as well as we could have. We’ll learn from the loss and get on with it,’’ Clarkson said. ‘‘I’m pleased with how we fought out the game.’’
Fremantle broke a six-game losing run against the Hawks, their conqueror in last year’s grand final, setting up the 110-91 victory with a five-goals-to-one third quarter and holding the visitors to just three second-half goals.
AFL round 21: Fremantle v Hawthorn
Lachie Neale of the Dockers looks to make his way his way out of a growing crowd of opposing players during the round 21 match between Hawthorn and Fremantle at Patersons Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
Captain Matthew Pavlich was dominant for the Dockers, kicking five, while David Mundy dominated with 33 possessions.
‘‘I don’t think we can drop out of the top four, which was our goal at the beginning of the year,’’ Clarkson said.
‘‘We perhaps didn’t take our chances early in the game, kicking 4.7 in a period of dominance. It makes a bit of a difference if we kick 7.4 in the first quarter. We could have had more scoreboard pressure.
‘‘They are a good side and we probably need to knock them off at some stage in the finals if we want to salute. But we need to play better than that if we want to take the chocolates.’’
Mundy was outstanding and was delighted with Fremantle’s midfield, preferring to talk about its combined potency rather than himself.
‘‘The midfield has really good balance and chemistry and we go hunting for the ball together,’’ he said.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was understandably happy with his team's performance.
"I thought it was a strong performance against quality," he said. "What was meritorious is we got jumped at the start, and then had an ability to fight back.
"I thought we were a bit taller with (Matt) Taberner in there. (Michael) Walters helped. But games are won and lost in the midfield. I thought our midfield supplied opportunities and pressured the ball and protected our defence. I thought it was a midfield performance today.
The coach was satisfied that the tactics his team used had worked for the most part.
"We worked really hard to pressure the ball carrier. At times it worked, at times it didn't work," he said. "But we certainly were able to perform better than in previous times against Hawthorn."
Fremantle has lost its last six games against Hawthorn and Sunday's win was sorely needed to give the team confidence in the event that it faces the Hawks in September.
"Make no mistake, they're a great team - dual grand finalists. And they had a couple of players out, I think you've got to acknowledge, no (Jarryd) Roughead, no (Cyril) Rioli. So they've had some challenges as well," Lyon said.
"They're an elite high-performing premiership team. I wouldn't have thought they'd have too many seeds of doubt."
Fremantle, which kicked more than 100 points for just the sixth time this season, would not have relinquished its top-four spot had it lost, but the win left it four points and percentage ahead of Port Adelaide with games to play against the Brisbane Lions and the Power in the final two rounds.
Hawthorn missed out on the chance to move from third spot back into first or second, with next week’s match against Geelong likely to have a major influence on where both sides finish. The Hawks, who sit behind Sydney and Geelong on the ladder, play Collingwood in the last round.
Hawk spearhead Jarryd Roughead sat out the game due to his one-match suspension for tripping and Clarkson suggested the game may have been different had he played. ‘‘Take one of the best players out of any side in the competition, it’s going to make a difference,’’ he said.
The debate about Nat Fyfe’s eligibility to win this year’s Brownlow Medal could be proved redundant, with the Fremantle star likely to face match review panel scrutiny for an off-the-ball incident.
Fyfe, whose Brownlow chances expired when he accepted a two-match suspension after round two, gave away a free kick to Hawk Jordan Lewis after appearing to catch him high with his right arm or hand. Fyfe again was one of his side’s most influential players.
Matt Suckling was subbed out at three-quarter time with a right ankle problem that may place the damaging defender in doubt to play in the Hawks’ next assignment against the Cats.