Cats downed in fiery clash
FREMANTLE 6.0 8.3 12.8 16.9 (105)
GEELONG 4.0 9.2 12.7 15.11 (101)
Fremantle: Mellington 3, Pavlich 3, Clarke 2, Fyfe 2, Ballantyne 2, de Boer, Barlow, Bradley, Mzungu
Geelong: Hawkins 4, Bartel 3, Podsiadly 2, Motlop 2, Johnson, Duncan, Mackie, T Hunt
Fremantle: Fyfe, Sandilands, Mzungu, Johnson, Ballantyne, Clarke, Pavlich
Geelong: Selwood, Kelly, Mackie, Bartel, Hawkins, Podsiadly, Enright
Reports: Scarlett (Geel) for striking Ballantyne in third quarter.
Umpires: Margetts, Ritchie, Stewart
Official crowd: 34,601 at Patersons Stadium
Fremantle has made a dream start to life under new coach Ross Lyon, holding on to beat reigning premier Geelong by four points in a thrilling clash at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
In a spiteful match that went down to the wire, Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich stood up to kick two crucial late goals, with the home team running out 16.9 (105) to 15.11 (101) winners.
The skipper had been well-held all night by Andrew Mackie, but he swept on a loose ball deep into the last quarter and kicked the game sealer off the ground.
Making matters worse for the Cats, champion full-back Matthew Scarlett appears set for a stint on the sidelines after he struck Fremantle antagonist Hayden Ballantyne with a glancing left hook in the third quarter.
Ballantyne taunted Scarlett after a Tendai Mzungu goal, and the veteran snapped, gifting the home team another goal and almost certainly ruling himself out of the Cats’ round two clash with Hawthorn.
Fremantle looked every bit the disciplined, organised unit Lyon had promised after a ruthless pre-season, and the win was just Fremantle second in 11 clashes with the Cats since 2006.
Freo’s Nat Fyfe continued his emergence as a genuine star, winning 30 disposals (15 contested) and kicking two goals to be a clear best on ground.
The classy ball-winner was up against premiership midfielders Joel Selwood, who was the Cats’ best with 32 disposals (17 contested), and James Kelly (26 and eight clearances), but he inspired a memorable win for Fremantle.
Star ruckman Aaron Sandilands, who was returning from a calf injury, drove a five-goals-to-nil start for the home team, controlling the ruck and taking contested marks at both ends of the ground.
Lyon’s reworked tall forward line was also shaping as a success, with Pavlich, Zac Clarke (two goals) and Kepler Bradley all productive early.
Ballantyne was lively in the midfield and he got under the skin of a number of Geelong players, but could face scrutiny from the Match Review Panel, however, after Paul Chapman was floored in an off-the-ball incident late in the first quarter.