Fremantle too classy for North
Fremantle 5.6 9.9 14.12 18.19 (127)
North Melbourne 4.3 8.6 9.10 14.14 (98)
Fremantle: Ballantyne 4; Mayne 3; Bradley, Fyfe, Hill 2; Palmer, McPhee, Crowley, Ibbotson, Mundy
North Melbourne: Edwards, Harvey, Wells, Ziebell, Swallow 2; Petrie, Atley, Wright, Hansen
Fremantle: Pavlich, Fyfe, Ballantyne, Sandilands, Mundy, Broughton
North Melbourne: Swallow, Adams, Anthony, Wells, Harvey
Fremantle: Suban (broken leg)
North Melbourne: Nil
Fremantle: Nick Suban replaced by Garrick Ibbotson in the third quarter
North Melbourne: Robbie Tarrant replaced by Cruize Garlett at three quarter-time
Umpires: Margetts, Stevic, Dalgleish
Official crowd: 34,779 at Patersons Stadium
Fremantle has outclassed a wasteful North Melbourne at Patersons Stadium and jumped into the top four after notching a solid 29-point victory on Sunday afternoon.
The side’s third win of the season was soured by injury, however, with young runner Nick Suban taken to hospital after breaking the fibula bone in his right leg in the third quarter.
Captain Matthew Pavlich and dynamic young midfielder Nat Fyfe set up the 18.19 (127) to 14.14 (98) win in a five-goal-to-one third term, while small forward Hayden Ballantyne booted four goals for the match.
The gulf in class between the sides was decisive, with North Melbourne winning their share of clearances (41-42) and inside 50s (55-57) but using the ball poorly.
The Kangaroos continually manufactured goals in the first half to stay in the contest, with midfielder Daniel Wells converting two brilliant snaps and Jack Ziebell kicking back-to-back goals. Another goal to North skipper Brent Harvey meant the visitors went into the main break just nine points behind.
But that deficit was rapidly and forcefully turned into a 48-point Fremantle lead late in the fourth quarter on the back of a midfield master-class from Pavlich (34 possessions and 12 clearances). He was assisted by Fyfe (32 possessions), David Mundy (30 and six inside 50s) and Aaron Sandilands (22 and 38 hit-outs).
North kicked the last three goals of the game to narrow the final margin, but they never controlled the contest for an extended period.
Andrew Swallow (31 possessions and 12 clearances) fought hard in the midfield, alongside Leigh Adams, Liam Anthony and Wells, while Todd Goldstein battled manfully in the ruck.
Fremantle, however, had backline winners in Luke McPharlin and Greg Broughton, and a spread of 10 goal-kickers.
Fyfe, in his second season, is rapidly becoming a must-stop player for Fremantle. The midfielder won 19 of his 32 possessions in contests on Sunday, kicked two goals and used the ball creatively. Ballantyne (4.5) was the side’s most dangerous forward, while the defence, led by Luke McPharlin and Greg Broughton, was rock solid.
Pavlich’s third quarter turned the game. He had 12 possessions (eight contested), five clearances and four inside 50s for the term, with North Melbourne taking too long to address his midfield dominance. Cameron Richardson tightened up, but the home side had already built a 32-point lead, largely on the captain’s back.
The most talked about match-up leading into this clash was Stephen Hill versus Brady Rawlings, after the senior Roo took the honours in their one-sided battle last season. Hill had just three possessions in the first term, but two of those landed on Kepler Bradley’s chest and resulted in goals. At the start of the second term he went forward and out-marked Rawlings to hit the scoreboard, and late in the third quarter he converted a 55m set shot. Hill was restricted to 14 possessions, but he won this round.
What it means
Fremantle made a 3-1 start to its breakout 2010 campaign and, with the same record after four rounds this season, a top-four finish has to be the aim and expectation. Injury to the in-form Suban is a blow, but Garrick Ibbotson, who returned from an ankle injury as the side’s substitute, becomes an immediate replacement.
Dream Team highlight
Fremantle: Ballantyne scored a monster 140 points, with missed opportunities in front of goal costing him an even bigger score. The nippy forward edged Fyfe (137), Matthew Pavlich (127) and Aaron Sandilands (119) to top score for Fremantle.
What the coach said
Mark Harvey: “If you have a look at this competition, there’s a lot of close games and it’s very hard to keep winning. That sort of effort is reflective of the way we play. We’ve got some really good, young, exciting players that people should come and watch.”
Fremantle: Western Bulldogs (Patersons Stadium), Bye, Richmond (MCG), West Coast (Patersons Stadium)