Freo cruise past Port
Port Adelaide 2.2 5.3 11.4 14.6 (90)
Fremantle 7.3 13.8 19.11 21.16 (142)
Port Adelaide: Gray 3, Schulz 3, Phillips, K. Cornes, Hartlett, Westhoff, Pittard, Moore, Jacobs, Boak
Fremantle: Bradley 3, Mayne 2, Palmer 2, C. Pearce 2, Pavlich 2, Fyfe 2, Roberton 2, Lower, Ballantyne, Hill, Crowley, Broughton, Sandilands
Port Adelaide: Broadbent, Gray, Boak, Jacobs, Pittard
Fremantle: Fyfe, Lower, Pavlich, Bradley, Crowley, Mundy, Broughton
Port Adelaide: Brett Ebert (omitted) replaced in selected side by Cameron O’Shea
Fremantle: Sandilands (ankle)
Port Adelaide: Danyle Pearce replaced by Steven Salopek during the third quarter
Fremantle: Hayden Ballantyne replaced by Tendai Mzungu at three-quarter time
Umpires: McBurney, Leppard, Wenn
Official crowd: 16,274 at AAMI Stadium
Fremantle has snapped a two-game losing streak and consigned a hapless Port Adelaide to its fifth straight loss, running out easy 52-point winners at AAMI Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Fremantle took full advantage of a strong breeze and Port Adelaide’s dismal work rate in the first half, piling on eight unanswered goals either side of the quarter-time break to set up the 21.16 (142) to 14.6 (90) win.
The visitors substituted goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne, who missed the loss to West Coast last week with a hamstring complaint, from the game in the third quarter as a precaution.
All-Australian ruckman Aaron Sandilands also finished the game on the interchange bench after complaining of foot soreness in the final quarter.
Fremantle was accused of relying on too few players in its losses to the Eagles and Richmond, but the club enjoyed a more even contribution in its second trip to AAMI Stadium this season.
Freo had 13 individual goalkickers in the comfortable win.
In-form utility Kepler Bradley kicked three goals to increase his season tally to 19, and move into equal-fourth spot in the race for the Coleman medal.
Robbie Gray and Jay Schulz both finished with three goals for the Power.
Fremantle, missing six first-choice players, appeared vulnerable but any hope Port Adelaide had of recording a long-awaited second win was snuffed out in the first quarter.
Matthew Pavlich and Chris Mayne combined for four goals in the opening term, as Fremantle kicked seven goals to Port Adelaide’s two to lead by 31 points at the first break.
The flat-footed Power struggled to win the ball or move it forward with any purpose when they had possession, allowing the Fremantle defenders to intercept the ball and create play.
Freo continued their dominance in the second quarter, adding another six goals to extend the lead to 53 points at half time.
Gray tried to lift Port Adelaide, kicking three goals in a brilliant individual effort in the third quarter.
The home side was inspired briefly, lifting its intensity to an acceptable level but two quick goals to Rhys Palmer put an end to the Power’s run.
Often the contested-possession and clearance counts tell the story of a game, but it was Fremantle’s ability to win the uncontested ball that proved pivotal on Saturday afternoon. Freo finished the game with 95 more disposals and 60 more handball receives than Port Adelaide, which was reflective of their superior work rate and willigness to run and spread to receive the ball.
Ex-Port Adelaide defender Nick Lower had a day out against his old side, amassing a career-high 28 disposals, five tackles and a goal. Nathan Fyfe continued his brilliant start to the season, picking up another 30 possessions and two goals and Rhys Palmer justified his inclusion, with 24 touches and two goals.
Matt Thomas started in the centre square with the job on Matthew Pavlich, but soon found himself in unfamiliar territory deep in Fremantle’s forward line. Pavlich exposed Thomas for his lack of height, kicking two goals from marks inside 50m in the first quarter. Defender Troy Chaplin was eventually moved onto Pavlich in the second half, but the damage had already been done.
What it means
Fremantle has arrested its form slump, and climbed from eighth to sixth place on the AFL ladder. The injury toll is a concern, but if the club can snatch at least two wins from its next four games it will be well positioned for a late-season surge when some of its more experienced players return.
Toyota AFL Dream Team highlight
Fremantle: Nat Fyfe continued his rapid rise through the Dream Team ranks in just his second year of AFL football, notching up 120 DT points with a 30-disposal, 2-goal performance. At $374,900 the Fremantle speedster is not cheap, but is proving well-worth the price tag, averaging 27 possessions and just over 100 DT points per game in season 2011.
The next four: the future ahead
Fremantle: St Kilda (Patersons Stadium), Hawthorn (MCG), Essendon (Patersons Stadium), Melbourne (MCG)
What the coach said
Mark Harvey (Fremantle): “We’ve been really pushing the group, no matter who’s playing. They [the players] share the load and the responsibility, whatever position they’re put in.
“The confidence and the way they were creative and took the game on was pleasing. We wanted to make sure that the opposition had to chase us a little bit more”