Fremantle too good
Fremantle 6.3 9.4 13.6 15.8 (98)
Essendon 1.1 2.6 5.7 9.10 (64)
Fremantle: Pavlich 3, Johnson 2, Ballantyne 2, Crowley 2, Mzungu 2, Fyfe, Mayne, Griffin, Bradley
Essendon: Ryder 4, Jetta 2, Lovett-Murray, Colyer, Hurley
Fremantle: Ballantyne, McPharlin, Fyfe, Ibbotson, Pavlich, Johnson
Essendon: Jetta, Watson, Ryder, Howlett, Myers, Hille
Fremantle: David Mundy (knee), Hayden Ballantyne (hamstring)
Essendon: Brent Stanton replaced in selected side by Michael Hibberd, Dustin Fletcher (hamstring)
Fremantle: David Mundy replaced by Clayton Hinkley in the first quarter
Essendon: Dustin Fletcher replaced by Alex Browne at half-time
Umpires: Stevic, Dalgleish, Meredith
Official crowd: 35,824 at Patersons Stadium
Fremantle has returned to form and extended Essendon’s losing run to three games, holding off a late Bomber rally to win by 34 points at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.
In a high-stakes game between the seventh- and eighth-placed sides, Fremantle raced to a 32-point lead at quarter-time and led by 10 goals halfway through the third term.
But the home side dropped the ball either side of the last break and conceded five straight goals to let the Bombers back into a game they had never looked like winning.
Former Bomber Kepler Bradley converted a set shot 21 minutes into the last quarter to settle the issue, Fremantle winning just its second game since round five, 15.8 (98) to 9.10 (64).
Both sides showed glimpses of their best and worst, but it was Fremantle that produced its best for longer, comprehensively out-working the flat Bombers for close to three quarters.
Goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne (18 possessions and two goals), captain Matthew Pavlich (16 and three) and Garrick Ibbotson (20 and eight rebound 50s) were terrific, while Luke McPharlin continued his All Australian form marshalling the backline.
Bombers captain Jobe Watson, who returned from a hamstring injury, worked back from a slow start to have 16 possessions and six clearances, and Leroy Jetta was lively all day.
While Fremantle snared a much-needed win, its horror run with injuries could be extended, with star midfielder David Mundy taken to hospital for scans to determine if he has a fractured fibula in his right leg.
The clearance specialist landed awkwardly on his leg early in the first quarter and was immediately subbed out of the match for midfielder Clayton Hinkley, who made his first appearance for the season.
His absence didn’t hurt the home side until the last quarter when Essendon lifted its work-rate noticeably to draw within 22 points eight minutes into the final term.
Essendon could also be without defender Dustin Fletcher, who appeared to injure a hamstring, while the team will be stuck in Perth overnight with Melbourne Airport closed due to volcanic ash.