Fadeout costs Freo rare win
After Stephen Hill kicked the first goal of the final term to extend Fremantle’s lead to 26 points, Fremantle coach Mark Harvey thought he would be celebrating a rare win on the road at the MCG.
But as the final siren rang, Hawthorn had steamrolled his men with eight unanswered goals, turning a four-goal deficit at the two-minute mark of the last quarter into a 22-point win and condemning Freo to its ninth straight loss at the MCG.
It means Fremantle has not won at the ground since it beat Melbourne in round four, 2007.
Harvey was left to rue how his side “opened the gate” as the Hawks smashed their counterparts in the centre clearances six-to-one in the final term to cap off an amazing 48-point turnaround.
“We allowed them too much space forward of the stoppages, we allowed them to play their way in the last quarter too easy,” a disappointed Harvey said after the match.
“It can be reflective of a number of things. They play a very demanding brand of football of which we probably curtailed for three quarters and then we lost some of our balance and structure when the pressure was on.
“We leaked too many easy goals and it was reflective of small things like centre square clearances.”
With the team missing a host of first-choice starters due to injury, Harvey refused to blame the loss on Freo’s decision to go with a tall squad at the selection table nor the conditioning of his side.
He did however, suggest the cap on rotations was a factor in his side’s last quarter fadeout which sees them now clinging to eighth position on the AFL ladder.
“You look at turnovers and mistakes during certain periods of time. When the pressure came on in the last quarter, we couldn’t stop the flow of what Hawthorn was doing,” Harvey said.
“That was disappointing particularly when we had done so well for three quarters.”
But despite the heart-breaking loss after leading for a majority of the match, Harvey said his inexperienced side can take plenty of positives away on the flight back home to the west.
“I think we got a lot of confidence out of today. I thought there were some terrific signs. This is a side that has only been beaten twice up until today and we were in front for a long period of the game,” he said.
“We have had to battle through some extreme circumstances at the moment. If you want to talk about the team from an availability point of view I thought they gave it whatever they had for nearly the duration of the game.”
With just half-a-game separating his side and seventh-placed Essendon, Harvey and his side knows how crucial next Sunday’s clash against the Bombers is for Fremantle’s finals aspirations.
“The most telling factor for us is what we do on the back of this game. We need to re-assert ourselves at home pretty quickly,”
“We haven’t played all that well at home. We need to make sure we lock those ones in for a start.”