Freo’s 500 reasons to smile
FREMANTLE 2.8 6.9 8.14 12.15 (87)
PORT ADELAIDE 3.2 3.4 6.4 7.5 (47)
Fremantle: Pavlich 4, Mayne 3, Crowley, Ballantyne, De Boer, Pearce, Sandilands
Port Adelaide: Butcher 2, Broadbent 2, P Stewart, Westhoff, Brad Ebert
Fremantle: Hill, Broughton, Duffield, Pavlich, Crowley, Johnson, Sandilands
Port Adelaide: McCarthy, Chaplin, Cassisi, Trengove, Rodan
Fremantle: Pavlich (knee)
Port Adelaide: Nil
Fremantle: Dylan Roberton replaced Lachie Neale in the fourth quarter
Port Adelaide: Brett Ebert replaced Daniel Stewart at three-quarter time
Umpires: Ritchie, Margetts, Dalgleish
Official crowd: 30,079 at Patersons Stadium
Fremantle has kicked away to beat Port Adelaide by 40 points at Patersons Stadium on Sunday, with captain Matthew Pavlich booting his 500th career goal in the dying minutes.
The veteran bounced back to form to kick four goals, becoming the first Fremantle player to reach the magical 500 milestone as his team won 12.15 (87) to 7.5 (47).
Inaccuracy from Ross Lyon’s men meant Port Adelaide was still a chance of stealing an upset win early in the final quarter, but Fremantle booted four of the last five goals to win comfortably.
The result leaves Freo just one game behind ladder leaders West Coast, while Port Adelaide was left to contemplate its sixth consecutive loss, compounding a week of pressure on coach Matthew Primus.
As has been the case since the side’s round one win over Geelong, team defence won the game for Fremantle, with Port Adelaide restricted to 36 inside 50s and its lowest score of the season.
Fremantle, which had an even list of contributors, applied rabid tackling pressure in its forward half, forcing repeated turnovers and holding the ball in its attacking 50 for long periods.
Midfielder Stephen Hill, who has been tagged routinely this season, was left to roam free early and he punished the Power with a strong return to form, winning 26 possessions (11 contested) and six clearances.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands, who had been sidelined for two matches with a calf injury, had a massive 43 hit-outs, with coach Ross Lyon pleased with an improved performance from his midfield.
“I thought a lot of areas we were fantastic – we dominated inside 50s (55-36), clearances (40-37) and first possession,” the coach said.
“The one frustration – and at times I felt a little bit animated – was our ability to convert our opportunities.
“I just spoke to the group and said let’s keep working, don’t waste a kick or a session at training to become a more skilful group so we get reward for effort.”
Ryan Crowley continued a strong individual season, restricting Power midfielder Travis Boak’s influence and working hard offensively to have five inside 50s and a goal.
It was Fremantle’s biggest winning margin of the season, but the home side was only 22 points clear going into the final term after kicking an inaccurate 8.14 in the first three quarters.
A towering mark and goal to Sandilands and back-to-back goals for Chris Mayne, who has booted 13.0 this season, put the result beyond doubt, leaving Freo with a 5-2 record after seven rounds.
Port Adelaide was well served by midfielder John McCarthy (30 disposals) and defender Troy Chaplin (eight rebound 50s), but the list of contributors was short thereafter.
The Power face the Kangaroos at AAMI Stadium in round eight while Fremantle will travel to Aurora Stadium to tackle Hawthorn.