Fremantle holds off Blues for crucial win
Carlton 0.7 2.12 6.13 12.17 (87)
Fremantle 2.4 7.4 11.9 14.12 (96)
Carlton: Betts 4, Waite 2, Thornton 2, Garlett 2, Henderson 2
Fremantle: Barlow 4, Crowley 2, Ballantyne 2, Mundy, Morabito, Bradley, Sandilands, Hasleby, Fyfe
Carlton: Judd, Walker, Carrazzo, Betts, Gibbs, Simpson
Fremantle: Barlow, Sandilands, Ibbotson, Hasleby, Duffield, Mundy
Carlton: Murphy (hamstring tightness) replaced in selected side by Armfield, Kreuzer (left knee)
Umpires: Donlon, Meredith, Mollison, Stewart (replaced Donlon in the second half)
Official crowd: 28, 869 at Etihad Stadium
FREMANTLE has proved its no top-four fluke, holding off a fast-finishing Carlton to win by nine points at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
Freo won 14.12 (96) to 12.15 (87), but not before the Blues booted six final-term goals – four of them through Eddie Betts – to scare the life out of Mark Harvey’s team, which had looked to have the match well in control for most of the night.
The win shores up Fremantle’s position in the top four, while Carlton has now lost consecutive matches.
The game might also have far greater ramifications for the Blues, with no.1 ruckman Matthew Kreuzer appearing to suffer a serious knee injury early in the match.
His early exit from the match, combined with the Blues’ wayward kicking for goal, helped Fremantle get on top early and establish what would be a match-winning lead.
Michael Barlow (30 disposals, four goals) did his Brownlow Medal chances no harm, while Aaron Sandilands (49 hit-outs) took advantage of Carlton’s ruck woes. Defender Garrick Ibbotson was also terrific, as was most of Freo’s defence.
Fremantle led by nine points at quarter time and with Kreuzer having left the picture after landing awkwardly from a marking contest mid-way through the first term the visitors pounced in the second term.
Jarrad Waite booted the Blues’ first less than a minute into the second quarter but, with only Sam Jacobs and makeshift option Bret Thornton to face the giant Sandilands, Freo stamped its authority.
Fremantle kicked the next five goals, one of them through Sandilands who simply proved too big when going forward against Thornton and a helpless Kade Simpson, as they stretched the gap to 22 points by the main break.
Paul Duffield and Barlow were getting plenty of the ball, with the latter also dangerous when drifting forward, and while Judd was trying to lift Carlton, Adam McPhee was frustrating him.
The Blues’ woeful kicking was frustrating their fans.
Simpson, Waite and Chris Yarran all missed kickable shots in the second term before Thornton drifted forward on the stroke of half time, marking bravely and slotting just his team’s second to keep them in touch.
Carlton, playing without two former no.1 draft picks after the late withdrawal of Marc Murphy, tried to come again in the third term but each time Fremantle answered.
Ryan Crowley booted two goals and Barlow added his third, however Jeff Garlett kicked the last of the term to cut the margin to 26 and give the Blues hope.
Barlow added his fourth early in the last and the match looked over before Betts chipped in with his first of the night.
Fremantle still led by 25 points with a touch over eight minutes remaining, but Betts and the Blues kept coming.
However they left themselves with too much ground to make up.