Freo ends SCG hoodoo
Sydney Swans 3.2 5.4 8.5 9.9 (63)
Fremantle 3.5 9.12 11.14 14.16 (100)
Sydney Swans: Playfair 2, Bradshaw, Hannebery, Kirk, Smith, Jack, Malceski, Rohan
Fremantle: Pavlich 3, Hasleby 2, McPhee 2, Bradley 2, Crowley 2 Sandilands, Mayne, Morabito
Sydney Swans: Malceski, Jack, Kirk, Rohan, Mattner, Playfair
Fremantle: Hasleby, Pavlich, Bradley, Fyfe, Tarrant, Sandilands
Sydney Swans: Kennelly (knee), Bradshaw (knee)
Umpires: Donlon, Avon, Jeffery
Official crowd: 24,819 at the SCG
FREMANTLE has overcome a week of controversy and a 14-year hoodoo to restate its credentials as a genuine finals contender with a 37-point victory over the Sydney Swans at the SCG.
With skipper Matthew Pavlich leading the way, Fremantle booted six goals to two in the second quarter to set up a 14.16 (100) to 9.9 (63) victory – its first at the SCG since round 2, 1996.
Freo also overcome the loss of key tall Michael Johnson through suspension after the defender was charged with cocaine possession during the week.
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey said the furore surrounding Johnson’s legal issues hadn’t distracted the team as it prepared for a crucial game.
“People can speculate as much as they like. We had a 5-10 minute meeting about it, then it was all about getting on the road to Sydney,” he said.
“We just forge ahead no matter what happens. It wasn’t just that it was a couple of key injuries to key players. We won on the road, which we haven’t been known for doing. We’ve done that three times now, which is significant.”
The Swans’ woes were compounded by knee injuries to Tadhg Kennelly (medial ligament) and Daniel Bradshaw, who limped off in the first and third quarters, respectively.
It was confirmed after the game that Bradshaw’s injury was to the same knee on which he had arthroscopic surgery just before the season.
While Pavlich was important with three first-half goals, Paul Hasleby was a clear best on ground at a slippery SCG that suited his robust style. Kepler Bradley was also influential, while Chris Tarrant kept Adam Goodes’ influence to a minimum.
Aaron Sandilands comfortably had Mike Pyke’s measure at the stoppages but the Freo giant was otherwise quiet around the ground.
Third-gamer Gary Rohan was among the Swans’ best in a lively display at half-forward, Dan Hannebery was busy in the clinches and Nick Malceski mopped up effectively in defence.
Swans coach Paul Roos said his side’s failure to match Fremantle’s intensity in the first half cost it any chance of victory.
“The most basic element of playing a contact sport is effort. If you don’t have effort, you’ve got no chance to win. I was really disappointed in the first half,” he said.
“It’s surprising, but clearly we’ve got to find an answer to that quickly because if you don’t have effort, you’ll get beaten by everyone.”
However, Roos was full of praise for youngsters Rohan and Lewis Jetta, while rookie ruckman Mike Pyke also received plaudits for his second-half effort on Sandilands, who was restricted to 10 touches for the game.
After edging the Swans by four points in a scrappy first term, Fremantle went up a gear in the second as the old guard of Pavlich and Hasleby took control.
Freo enjoyed a 32-point lead at the main break and it could easily have been greater, had they not squandered more than half of their 21 scoring shots to that point.
The Swans emerged with renewed intensity after half time and an early goal to Kieren Jack was a just reward.
But Fremantle held its nerve and, aided by the Swans’ continual butchering of the ball going into attack, managed to break even for the rest of the term to hold a 27-point lead at the final change.
Rohan’s first goal of the day gave the Swans faithful some renewed hope in the final term but it was quickly tempered by Bradley’s second goal from a hotly-disputed free kick at the other end.
A heavy downpour made the home side’s task of five unanswered goals even more unlikely and so it proved, leaving Fremantle to celebrate its second road win in three weeks.