Crows survive Freo fightback
FREMANTLE 3.3 6.6 10.9 12.10 (82)
ADELAIDE 5.2 10.5 12.6 17.9 (111)
Fremantle: Pavlich 3, Crowley 2, Barlow 2, Mayne 2, Ballantyne, Mundy, Hill
Adelaide: Walker 4, Sloane 3, Wright 3, Callinan 2, Petrenko, Dangerfield, Jenkins, Porplyzia, Johncock
Fremantle: de Boer, Barlow, Crowley, Johnson, Pavlich, McPharlin
Adelaide: Sloane, Dangerfield, Petrenko, Wright, Jacobs, Walker
Fremantle: Stephen Hill (shoulder)
Fremantle: Hayden Crozier replaced Jack Anthony in the third quarter
Adelaide: Graham Johncock replaced Josh Jenkins in the third quarter
Reports: Bernie Vince (Adelaide) for striking Zac Clarke (Fremantle) in the third quarter
Umpires: Margetts, Stewart, Pannell (replaced by Dalgleish at quarter-time)
Official crowd: 31,392 at Patersons Stadium
Adelaide has continued its push for a top-four finish, holding its nerve against a courageous Fremantle to win by 29 points at Patersons Stadium on Saturday.
The Crows kicked the last five goals of the game and will take an 8-2 record into their mid-season bye, winning their fourth match on the road: 17.9 (111) to 12.10 (82).
Midfielders Rory Sloane (33 disposals) and Patrick Dangerfield (32) inspired the win – which appeared unlikely when Fremantle took a three-point lead early in the fourth quarter – giving their team an important 53-30 edge in clearances.
With Fremantle riding a wave of momentum into the final quarter, Sloane took the game by the scruff of the neck, winning 10 possessions and five clearances in the last term, also kicking a crucial goal out of a stoppage to spark the five-goal run.
Dangerfield did his best work in the first three quarters, while Richard Douglas, Matthew Wright and Jared Petrenko were important foot soldiers. Taylor Walker returned from a two-week suspension to kick four goals.
After falling six goals behind late in the second quarter, Fremantle mounted a gutsy fightback and dragged the margin back to 10 points at the final change.
Impressive forward Chris Mayne and captain Matthew Pavlich booted goals to snatch the lead for their team before Adelaide showed its maturity and steadied to notch an important win.
Coach Brenton Sanderson, who is enjoying an outstanding first season in charge, said it was a “special win” that displayed spirit, will and desire.
“I know we’ll talk about Rory Sloane’s game for a long time – his importance around our midfield today was exceptional,” Sanderson said.
“For them [Fremantle] to fight back from six goals down and then to get in front of us, a lot of sides would have thrown the towel in then. A lot of sides would have thought that’s enough, but not this team. This team has got incredible spirit.”
Fremantle responded to a disappointing fortnight with a more attacking approach on Saturday, running hard through the midfield, playing on at every opportunity and sending the ball inside 50 with purpose.
Half-back Michael Johnson continued his impressive season, Matt de Boer pushed into the centre and was solid, while Pavlich (three goals) spent more time forward and was a frequent target.
The Crows made more of their opportunities, however, and entered the first break 11 points clear before taking their game to another level in the second quarter.
With Scott Thompson well held by Fremantle stopper Ryan Crowley, Sloane and Dangerfield lifted. The pair drove a run of four straight goals for the visitors.
Sloane was particularly influential, running free and kicking a brilliant goal from 55m to give his team a 36-point lead late in the second term.
Fremantle appeared destined for another humbling defeat at home before Crowley pushed forward to kick two goals in three minutes, dragging the margin back to 23 points at the main break.
Key forward Jack Anthony, who had been given Bronx cheers on his return to the team, was replaced by debutant Hayden Crozier late in the third quarter and the teenager had an immediately impact.
“I thought we showed plenty of spirit to come from behind,” Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said.
“The clearance work in the end allowed them to grab the momentum back and that hurt us.
“You can lose going forward, and I felt really today, the group has got some really valuable lessons.”
Fremantle travels to the MCG to face Richmond next Saturday.