Pav inspires in costly win
Fremantle 2.5 5.6 10.8 12.16 (88)
Brisbane Lions 4.1 7.5 10.5 10.5 (65)
Fremantle: Pavlich 5, Broughton 2, Hinkley 2, Crowley, Johnson, Lower
Brisbane Lions: Brown 2, Rich 2, Retzlaff, Polkinghorne, Karnezis, Bewick, Redden, Rockliff
Fremantle: Pavlich, Broughton, Silvagni, Fyfe, Crowley, Palmer.
Brisbane Lions: Black, Stiller, Rockliff, Redden, Rich, Leuenberger.
Fremantle: Barlow (general soreness) replaced in selected side by Hayden, Mzungu (calf) replaced in selected side by Hinkley, McPharlin (groin), Sandilands (foot).
Brisbane Lions: Nil.
Fremantle: Luke McPharlin replaced by Roger Hayden at half-time.
Brisbane Lions: Patrick Karnezis replaced by Ryan Harwood in the third quarter.
Umpires: Ryan, Pannell, Keating
Fremantle has come from behind to notch a 23-point win over the Brisbane Lions, but its roller-coaster season has been rocked by more injuries to key players at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
In-form key defender Luke McPharlin was subbed out of the match at half-time with a groin injury and is likely to miss two weeks, while ruckman Aaron Sandilands’ return from a toe injury lasted little more than two quarters.
The star big man re-aggravated his ‘turf toe’ condition and Fremantle will consider sending him to Melbourne for surgery, with a likely recovery time of one month.
Despite the injures, Fremantle kicked seven goals to three after half-time to score an important 12.16 (88) to 10.5 (65) win, just its third in eight games.
Captain Matthew Pavlich was inspirational in a significant return to form, kicking five goals and winning 28 possessions in his hybrid midfield-forward role.
Fremantle entered the last break just three points ahead and staring at a mid-season crisis, but they controlled the final quarter, winning the inside 50s (17-2) and clearances (13-4) to close the game.
It was just the second final term it has won in its past seven games.
Saturday night’s match was supposed to signify the arrival of Fremantle’s cavalry, with important defenders Alex Silvagni and Roger Hayden playing their first games for the season, and Sandilands returning from a four-week lay-off.
But with midfielder Michael Barlow (general soreness) already withdrawn from the side, and Tendai Mzungu replaced before the bounce by Hayden, further injuries soured the win.
McPharlin, who was playing on Lions captain Jonathan Brown, left the ground late in the second term and was subbed off at half-time, and Sandilands was removed early in the third.
Nonetheless, the positives for Fremantle were many. As well as Pavlich, Greg Broughton (32 possessions and two goals) and Nat Fyfe (24) willed their side home.
Silvagni went to Brown after McPharlin’s injury and won a number of aerial contests to hold the Lions’ star goalless after half-time, while Rhys Palmer returned to the senior side and tagged Luke Power, restricting him to just eight possessions.
For the Lions, Simon Black (33 possessions) was outstanding, and Jack Redden (31 and a goal) continued his impressive season.
But the visitors couldn’t get Brown involved in the game after half-time, while the home side’s skipper took control of the contest to keep Fremantle’s season afloat.
The battle of the two captains was always going to go a long way to winning this game, and it was Pavlich who stood tallest. He was opposed to Joel Patfull when midfield and Matt Maguire when forward, and he dominated both. His first-quarter goal, from 60m, was against the flow, and he kicked back-to-back goals in the second term from strong marks.
With key midfielder David Mundy out of the side, Greg Broughton’s game in the midfield was significant. He had a physical presence, winning 17 of his 32 possessions in contests and laying seven tackles. Nat Fyfe let himself down in front of goal, but he generated a lot of his side’s forward entries.
What it means
Fremantle holds its place in the top eight and can further stabilise its season with a win over Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium next week. The club’s depth will continue to be tested, however, with McPharlin (a player it could not afford to lose) out of action.
With McPharlin injured, Silvagni stood up after half-time to perform the most significant stopping job of the game against Brown. He took nine marks (three contested) and provided good rebound out of defence. Fremantle had planned to sub him out of the game for Roger Hayden in his first game back, but was forced to leave him on the ground.
First-year forward Josh Mellington made his debut for Fremantle and impressed with his attack on the ball. The 18-year-old looks like teammate Adam McPhee and displayed a similar hunger for the contest. He finished with 11 possessions, spending time opposed to Rockliff. The young Victorian was clever in a ground-level one-on-one with Ash McGrath on a wing, and set up Clayton Hinkley’s second-quarter goal with a composed handball.
QUARTER BY QUARTER
Brown made a bright start with six disposals in the first nine minutes and the first two goals of the game. Fremantle looked scrappy early but responded through a Ryan Crowley goal. Daniel Rich restored the Lions’ two-goal lead. Bryce Retzlaff scored the visitors’ fourth. But a spectacular Pavlich goal deep into time-on saw his team end the quarter by eight points.
The Lions again made a strong start and extended their lead through Daniel Rich’s second, but midfielder Clayton Hinkley provided a quick response. After Rich missed a sitter, Pavlich made him pay with a pair of set-shot goals which put the home side in front. Fremantle fell apart late in the quarter, particularly when defender McPharlin went off injured. The Lions regained the lead through goals to Patrick Karnezis and James Polkinghorne. Lions by 11 points.
This time Fremantle made the brighter start and quick goals to Michael Johnson and Broughton gave it the lead. But Rohan Bewick provided a timely response for the Lions. The momentum changed once more though as Hinkley’s second goal, followed by another for Pavlich, gave the hosts a nine-point lead. Redden and Tom Rockliff booted goals either side of Pavlich’s fifth, as the Lions took advantage of the injury which forced Sandilands from the ground. Lions down by three points.
Fremantle missed two gold chances to extend their lead early in the quarter, but Broughton then stepped up with an impressive goal from the pocket. The hosts responded in the absence of their injured stars and dominated the inside 50s throughout the quarter. After missing several set shots, Fremantle were finally rewarded when a Nick Lower goal put them 19 points up. Harvey’s team wasted several more chances, but it mattered little as they held on for the win after holding the Lions scoreless in the final term.
NEXT FOUR: THE FIXTURE AHEAD
Fremantle should win against Gold Coast at home next week, before the bye gives the chance for some of its injured players to recover. After that it’s a tough run with games against top six teams Sydney Swans (away) and West Coast and Hawthorn (both home).
DREAM TEAM HIGHLIGHT
Fremantle: Broughton ($338,700) led Fremantle with 139 Dream Team points. Pavlich ($338,500) also played a crucial role for the hosts and finished with 129 points.