Fremantle       3.2   7.2   13.5   17.10 (112)
Gold Coast      4.1   7.5   8.8      9.8    (62)

GOALS
Fremantle:
Pavlich 3, Mzungu 3, Ballantyne 3, Fyfe 2, Griffin 2, Lower, de Boer, Johnson, Mellington
Gold Coast: Ablett 3, McKenzie 2, Stanley, Wilkinson, Fraser, Matera

BEST
Fremantle:
Griffin, Broughton, Mzungu, Fyfe, Pavlich, Ballantyne, Silvagni
Gold Coast: Ablett, McKenzie, Stanley, Bock, Swallow

INJURIES
Fremantle:
Nil
Gold Coast: Sam Day (knee), Nathan Bock (arm), Zac Smith (face), Sam Iles (foot)

SUBSTITUTES
Fremantle:
Ryan Crowley replaced by Josh Mellington at three-quarter time
Gold Coast: Daniel Gorringe replaced by Brandon Matera in the second quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: McBurney, Wenn, Keating

Official crowd: 28,646 at Patersons Stadium

Fremantle has saluted champion skipper Matthew Pavlich in his 250th game, overcoming a slow start to beat Gold Coast by 50 points at Patersons Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Suns were led superbly by best afield Gary Ablett – and they gave the home side a significant scare in the first half – but Fremantle finished strongly, kicking nine of the game’s last 10 goals to win 17.10 (112) to 9.8 (62).

Pavlich, who has burst back to form, booted 3.3, had 25 possessions and was chaired from the ground by teammates Luke McPharlin and Antoni Grover in his milestone game.

“He’s had to carry the burden of a lot of casualties in and around our midfield, then recently he’s gone forward and really exposed the opposition,” coach Mark Harvey said. “I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Pavlich was shaded only by ruckman Jon Griffin, who again stepped in to fill the injured Aaron Sandilands’ shoes and had a massive impact, with 30 hit-outs, 26 possessions and two goals.

The return from injury of Hayden Ballantyne and Tendai Mzungu was also significant, with each kicking three goals in the second half. Defender Greg Broughton (32 possessions) continued a rich vein of form up the field.

Fremantle had lost the clearances in five of its eight games since its round six bye, and it was again shaded by Gold Coast (40-42), with Ablett (eight clearances) supreme at the stoppages.

The Suns’ skipper also booted three goals and had 34 possessions (16 contested) in a sublime performance.

Gold Coast impressed against West Coast at Patersons Stadium four weeks ago, and they took that form into Saturday’s match, with Ablett, Sam Iles and Trent McKenzie, who kicked two long-range goals, all impressive early.

McKenzie kicked the visitors’ first goal from 55m and Ablett out-marked Paul Duffield late in the quarter to send the Suns into the first break five points clear.

Nathan Bock had kept Pavlich goalless in the first quarter, but the key defender left the ground early in the second term, suffering from food poisoning. When he returned from the rooms at the eight-minute mark, Pavlich had booted three goals on Jared Brennan.

Fremantle dropped its intensity and let the Suns back into the game from that point, and when local product Brandon Matera snapped a goal one minute after being subbed into the game, the Suns hit the front, taking a three-point lead into the main break.

McKenzie’s 55m goal early in the third term was one of the game’s highlights, but it was followed by five consecutive Fremantle goals.

Harvey’s men lifted their intensity and ran away with the match against the tiring Suns, who were hit hard by injury in the second half.

Influential players

Ablett was a clear best on ground in a losing side, running tirelessly all day and winning possessions at both ends of the ground. His three goals and 34 disposals overshadowed his intense grunt work, laying a game-high 14 tackles. Rhys Palmer was his first opponent, while Broughton and Pavlich took turns manning him at stoppages. Matt de Boer, who was playing his 50th game, had the biggest impact as a tagger against the Brownlow medallist.

Earning an instant recall, Fremantle ruckman Griffin took his chance with both hands, finishing a dominant first half with 18 possessions, 16 hit-outs, six inside 50s and two goals. Big second half performances from Ballantyne, Mzungu and Stephen Hill took the game away from Gold Coast, while de Boer set the example with his attack on the ball. Pavlich and Nat Fyfe contributed all day.

What it means

Fremantle’s bye has come at a perfect time, as the injury-hit club looks to regroup ahead of its last eight games. It takes consecutive wins into the week off, albeit against developing teams, and will be boosted by the return of Michael Barlow, Adam McPhee and Nick Suban after the bye. That said, it was a patchy performance against the bottom-placed Suns, and Fremantle will need to improve significantly to overcome a tough draw and play finals.

The crowd

Fremantle registered its lowest home crowd for the season, with 28,646 turning out for Pavlich’s milestone game. The home side drew 35,483 to its last 1.10pm Saturday match, against St Kilda, so it was likely the lowly opposition, indifferent recent form and wet weather keeping the Freo faithful away this time.

Dream Team highlight
Fremantle:
Jon Griffin ($273,400) was outstanding in his first game back in the side. The ruckman reached 100 points late in 2nd quarter and finished with 155. Greg Broughton (149 points) was Freo’s next best.

QUARTER BY QUARTER SUMMARY
FIRST QUARTER

It took 12 minutes for the first goal as Jon Griffin put Fremantle in front after a scrappy opening. The Suns quickly responded through Trent McKenzie, who nailed a set shot from 55m. Nat Fyfe put the hosts ahead, but Danny Stanley and Joel Wilkinson then scored in quick succession for Gold Coast. Fremantle looked flat for much of the quarter, but Fyfe’s second brought it level. Gary Ablett was rewarded for a fine start when his goal put the Suns up by five at quarter-time.

SECOND QUARTER

Matthew Pavlich marked his milestone with an incredible start to the quarter. It took him just eight minutes to boot the first three goals and give Fremantle a 13-point lead. His side looked much livelier in the second and dominated the early parts of the quarter. But after Josh Fraser kicked a goal from outside 50, the Suns took the momentum, largely through Ablett’s dominance. He scored a goal before setting one up for substitute Brandon Matera in the final minutes to put Gold Coast ahead by three.

THIRD QUARTER

Tendai Mzungu delivered Freo a much-needed goal to start the quarter. But McKenzie’s second goal from beyond 50 for the game quickly put Gold Coast back in front. Hayden Ballantyne responded for the hosts with two crucial goals, which capitalised on their pressure early in the quarter. Matt de Boer then scored another to put Fremantle 16 points ahead. After Mzungu’s second, Freo looked on top. A Nick Lower goal put them up by 27 and in control at the final break.

FOURTH QUARTER
Ablett broke the tag of Rhys Palmer to get the Suns back in the game with his third goal. But Michael Johnson booted a goal from 45m to put Mark Harvey’s side up by 30 and dent Gold Coast’s hopes of a comeback. Mzungu’s third then put the result beyond doubt. Fremantle missed several chances to blow the score out. But goals to substitute Josh Mellington and Ballantyne gave the hosts nine of the last 10 and a comfortable victory.

NEXT FOUR: THE FIXTURE AHEAD
Fremantle:
Next week’s bye is the final reprieve for Fremantle before they start an extremely tough run home. They head to Sydney to meet the Swans in round 17, before playing West Coast and Hawthorn at home and St. Kilda at Etihad Stadium.

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