Freo’s demolition derby
Fremantle 7.6 13.8 18.12 24.16 (160)
West Coast 0.3 4.4 9.5 13.7 (85)
Fremantle: Ballantyne 6, Pavlich 4, Hasleby 3, Johnson 2, Bollenhagen 2, Hill 2, Hayden, Mundy, Suban, van Berlo, Crichton
West Coast: LeCras 5, Strijk 2, Rosa 2, Selwood, Naitanui, Embley, Waters
Fremantle: Broughton, Sandilands, Ballantyne, Mundy, Pavlich, Hill, Fyfe
West Coast: LeCras, Priddis, Rosa, Strijk
Fremantle: Tarrant (knee)
West Coast: Nil
Umpires: Margetts, McInerney, Keating
Official crowd: 40,451 at Subiaco Oval
FREMANTLE has stormed back to form and won its seventh straight western derby, dismantling West Coast by 75 points in a spiteful clash at Subiaco Oval on Sunday.
The 24.16 (160) to 13.7 (85) win rubber-stamps Fremantle’s first finals appearance since 2006 and provides a crucial percentage boost as the side jostles for a top-four finish.
Aaron Sandilands (22 possessions and 33 hit-outs) was awarded his second Ross Glendinning Medal after overcoming opponents Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui to give Fremantle a significant midfield advantage with his decisive ruckwork.
The game was effectively decided by quarter time, after a withering burst from Fremantle produced seven unanswered goals and a 45-point lead.
From there, despite having star defender Chris Tarrant sidelined with a suspected medial ligament injury, Fremantle extended its lead at every change to record its biggest win of the season and its most comprehensive western derby triumph.
Tarrant, who had missed Fremantle’s last five matches with an ankle injury, injured his left knee at the end of the first quarter after a collision with Andrew Embley.
His absence allowed Mark LeCras to bounce back from a disposal-less first term and kick five goals, but the star Eagle was his side’s sole winner.
Fremantle, on the other hand, had accomplished performers on every line in an even performance that produced 11 separate goalkickers.
Hayden Ballantyne (six goals and six inside 50s) and captain Matthew Pavlich (four and four) led the side in attack, while clearance specialist David Mundy (25 possessions and a goal) made a superb return to the midfield.
Greg Broughton (31 possessions and five inside 50s) was a revelation in the engine room, while Nat Fyfe played yet another fine game in an impressive debut season moving between the midfield and forward line.
Coach Mark Harvey said his side’s young players should be singled out for their courageous efforts, particularly defensive forward Matt de Boer, who set up impressive debutant Justin Bollenhagen’s second goal with a desperate lunge late in the third term.
“We needed to redeem ourselves from the previous week, where we didn’t handle it all that well,” Harvey said after the match, in reference to last week’s 82-point loss to the Western Bulldogs.
“The most important part of the way we won today was the way … some of the younger players handled the contested situations.
“It was our ability to be able to pressure the opposition and then work off them after that.
“We’ve been a really efficient side going forward and today was evidence of that.”
Despite having more of the football, Harvey’s players won the tackle count 64-50, and they were devastatingly efficient when in possession, running in waves in front of a sea of purple.
For West Coast, Matt Rosa, Matt Priddis and Andrew Strijk can stand alongside LeCras as players who worked hard all day, but overall it was a performance that confirmed why the last-placed Eagles find themselves in a battle to avoid their first-ever wooden spoon.
Coach John Worsfold said the ignominy of a last-placed finish was irrelevant to his side.
“I want to teach these players to motivate themselves to want to be the best that they can be, and to not always want to rely on a gimmick because you’ll get to an important game one day and run out of gimmicks. That’s a big trap,” he said.
“It’s always been irrelevant other than it’s pretty disappointing to be at the bottom of the ladder.
“We’ve got four tough weeks ahead to show to each other that we aren’t just playing out time.”
West Coast’s cause was not helped by Shannon Hurn’s absence after the important rebounder suffered hamstring tightness and was replaced late by Brett Jones.
The Eagles face the Brisbane Lions at home next week, while Fremantle travels to tackle North Melbourne as it seeks to build on its top-four claims.