Dockers crushed by Roos
North Melbourne 6.1 10.7 16.10 21.17 (143)
Fremantle 3.1 3.4 5.7 6.9 (45)
North Melbourne: Pedersen 3, Edwards 3, Harper 2, Garlett 2, Goldstein 2, Rawlings 2, Wells 2, Thomas 2, Harvey, Adams, Greenwood
Fremantle: Johnson, Mayne, Fyfe, Mzungu, Ballantyne
North Melbourne: Swallow, Pedersen, Thompson, Bastinac, Harvey, Goldstein, Adams, Wells
Fremantle: Mundy, Suban, McPharlin, Mzungu, Clarke, Sandilands
North Melbourne: Jack Ziebell (ribs)
Fremantle: Matthew Pavlich (calf)
North Melbourne: Jack Ziebell (ribs) replaced by Cruize Garlett in the second quarter
Fremantle: Matthew Pavlich (calf) replaced by Nick Suban in the second quarter
Reports: Clayton Hinkley (Fremantle) for rough conduct on Aaron Mullett in the second quarter
Umpires: Stevic, Stewart, Meredith
Official crowd: 17,581 at Etihad Stadium
NORTH Melbourne remains in the hunt for a finals berth after a very impressive 98-point win over Fremantle at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
The Kangaroos’ 21.17 (143) to 6.9 (45) victory moved them above Freo into ninth place on the ladder.
But they will most likely need to win their final two matches, against St Kilda and Richmond, to overtake the Sydney Swans and sneak into the top eight.
Brad Scott’s men took control of the contest by kicking six goals to three in the first quarter.
Although they were forced to take midfielder Jack Ziebell out of the game in the second quarter (he had failed to recover from a heavy bump in the opening term), the Roos were never headed from there.
Cameron Pederson and Aaron Edwards finished with three goals, while ruckman Todd Goldstein had the better of Aaron Sandilands and Zac Clarke, as North Melbourne posted its ninth win of the season.
It was a dirty night for Fremantle, which has now lost five consecutive matches.
Freo’s hopes of winning were dashed for good when its captain Matthew Pavlich was subbed out late in the second quarter with his team already trailing by 46 points.
When the decision to withdraw Pavlich was conveyed to the pro-North Melbourne crowd via the big screen, a big cheer erupted from the stands.
Star Freo onballer David Mundy, who was making his first appearance after two months on the sidelines with a serious ankle injury, tried hard to keep his team in the game.
But overall it was a very lacklustre effort from Fremantle, which kicked only three goals after quarter-time.
Making matters worse, young defender Clayton Hinkley is certain to attract some attention from the match review panel after laying a high bump on North Melbourne first-gamer Aaron Mullett in the opening term.
Andrew Swallow (30 possessions, eight tackles) was outstanding in the midfield for the winners. Late inclusion Leigh Adams (28 touches) was another ball-magnet, while key defender Scott Thompson did a great job on Adam McPhee and Chris Mayne.
In a North Melbourne forward line that included higher-profile targets Drew Petrie and Edwards, it was Pederson who troubled Freo the most. Very mobile for a big man, he not only booted three goals but also collected 19 disposals and took eight marks.
Despite being terribly underdone, Mundy was one of the few Freo players who gave a yelp. He picked up 23 possessions and also laid eight tackles.
Having been promoted from North Melbourne’s rookie list four days before the game, 19-year-old Aaron Mullett enjoyed a debut to remember. His first kick was a 40-metre pin-point pass to Aaron Edwards in the ninth minute of the first quarter, and he finished with 17 possessions. He also demonstrated his toughness by quickly climbing off the turf after he was flattened by Hinkley.
A stat that matters
Fremantle has now lost 14 of its past 16 games at Etihad Stadium. Its two losses at the venue this season, to the Roos and St Kilda, have been by a total of 139 points.
North Melbourne forward Lindsay Thomas has battled the goalkicking yips all season, and he had another terrible moment early in the second quarter. Having taken a brilliant contested mark 20m out from goal, Thomas never looked confident as he prepared to take his shot. Clearly rattled, he quickly put boot to ball and the ensuing kick sailed wide for a behind. Thomas had another shot – this one from 45m out – early in the final term and missed that as well. But he brought the crowd to life twice in the last quarter when he dribbled one through from close-range and then added another from 50m out.
QUARTER BY QUARTER
The game started at a frantic pace. Fremantle kicked the first goal through Michael Johnson after just 50 seconds, and North answered a minute later when Andrew Swallow’s bullocking attack on the ball set up a Brady Rawlings toe-poke on the goal line. North skipper Brent Harvey kicked the game’s next major at the seven-minute mark and Freo’s Chris Mayne answered three minutes later. At the 11-minute mark, Johnson missed a straight-forward set shot for Freo and the Kangaroos made him pay, ramming on three unanswered goals in the next four minutes to lead by 17 points. Nathan Fyfe hit back for Fremantle with a goal at the 18-minute mark, but a lapse in defence by Freo three minutes later allowed an Aaron Edwards set shot from 50m to bounce through for a major.
North by 18 points
North dominated the start of the second term but could not translate its control into goals. Harvey missed two gettable shots and shortly afterwards, Thomas took a strong mark 15m out from goal but missed a set shot from a 45-degree angle to show he had not completely recovered from the goalkicking yips that saw him dropped to the VFL after round 16. First-year North forward Kieran Harper kicked the term’s first goal at the nine-minute mark and Freo’s first score did not come until Ryan Crowley snapped a behind at the 11-minute mark. Eventually, the Kangaroos started to find their kicking boots, with Pedersen, Todd Goldstein and Harper all kicking majors. Both teams were forced to activate their substitutes earlier than they would have liked. North had to replace Jack Ziebell (ribs) early in the term, while Freo subbed their captain Matthew Pavlich (calf) off late in the quarter.
North by 45 points
North again made a fast but inaccurate start, with Harvey and Rawlings kicking behinds in the first two minutes. But when substitute Cruize Garlett rammed on two goals in a minute, the Kangaroos led by 59 points at the seven-minute mark. Freo got its first goal since the 18-minute mark of the first quarter when Tendai Mzungu goaled at the 12-minute mark after outmarking Lachie Hansen. Three minutes later, Edwards continued his excellent conversion in front of goal when he threaded a set shot from a tight angle. At that stage, the Kangaroos again lead by 59 points. Freo kicked two consecutive goals from the 21-minute mark, through Mzungu and Ballantyne, but North quickly reasserted its dominance.
North by 69 points
North coach Brad Scott would have been pleased with his players’ desperation in the final quarter. Despite their huge lead they chased, tackled and harassed as though the result was in the balance. Their effort was typified by a chase by Rawlings and Scott Thompson on Freo’s speedy forward Hayden Ballantyne at the four-minute mark. The North defenders chased Ballantyne for at least 50 metres as he sped along the boundary line, forcing a miskick into Freo’s forward 50. Daniel Wells was outstanding in the final quarter for the Roos with two goals. And, on a feel-good note, Thomas kicked his first two goals since his return from the VFL in round 20, his second an excellent set shot from 45m.
North by 98 points