Pav sparks Freo fire
Richmond 5.2 6.3 8.8 9.12 (66)
Fremantle 4.1 7.3 9.6 12.6 (78)
Richmond: Edwards 3, Riewoldt, Vickery, Martin, Nahas, Cotchin, Tuck
Fremantle: Pavlich 6, Ballantyne 2, Crichton, Griffin, Mayne, De Boer
Richmond: Cotchin, Edwards, Tuck, Grigg, Morris
Fremantle: Pavlich, De Boer, Crowley, Hill, Mayne, Ballantyne
Richmond: Jack Riewoldt (ankle)
Fremantle: Sandilands (foot)
Richmond: Ben Griffiths replaced by Brett O’Hanlon at three quarter time
Fremantle: Aaron Sandilands (foot) replaced by Hayden Crozier in the first quarter
Umpires: Donlon, Schmitt, Mollison
Official crowd: 43,801 at the MCG
Fremantle has capitalised on its lockdown game plan to nudge past Richmond, defeating the Tigers by 12 points in a low-scoring match in greasy conditions at the MCG.
Fremantle kicked 12.6 (72) to Richmond’s 9.12 (66).
Richmond will lament its poor kicking and the fact that it could score only four goals after quarter-time.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has been under fire for his defensive priorities, but his tactics proved fruitful as his team had the better of the physical clashes.
The victory was Fremantle’s first since defeating Port Adelaide in round seven.
Richmond was coming off a dream month, having scored three victories, but its lacklustre performance suggested it was due for a downer.
Fremantle looked to have been struck a huge blow when ruckman Aaron Sandilands went off with an ankle injury 10 minutes into the first quarter, to be replaced by substitute Hayden Crozier.
His replacement ruckman, Jonathon Griffin, battled manfully against Richmond’s in-form Ivan Maric but neither had a marked influence.
The match was entertaining despite the conditions, a tight and spirited affair.
There was no score for 15 minutes in the second quarter as both teams struggled to adapt to the conditions.
The margin never exceeded 10 points during the second and third quarters, before Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich kicked two goals early in the last quarter to give his team a 15-point lead.
It was the largest margin in the match.
Pavlich, who played deep in attack, finished with six goals after having the better of his duel with Alex Rance.
His steadiness when all around him were floundering marked him as the most influential player on the ground.
Richmond kicked its only goal of the last quarter at the 22-minute mark through Shane Tuck, bringing the margin back to seven points, before Fremantle steadied through a goal from Hayden Ballantyne to seal a well-deserved victory.
You might think that slippery conditions would suit the Victorian club, but Fremantle grew into the game as the rain became heavier midway through the second quarter.
Their tight, contested game suited the conditions, while Richmond looked flummoxed as it tried to carry out its high-possession game plan without success.
At half-time, Fremantle had 15 more contested possessions while Richmond had 17 more uncontested possessions.
By three-quarter time Fremantle was ahead in both the contested and uncontested posession counts, and it maintained that control during the last quarter.
Lyon commended his team on its effort.
“I didn’t like the first couple of goals [to Richmond]; it didn’t look good,” Lyon said.
“From there I thought we worked our way into the contest with great effort.”
Hard-working Fremantle midfielder Matt De Boer revelled in the wet, disposing of the ball 29 times in a performance that placed him just behind Pavlich as the game’s most influential player.
Fellow midfielders Michael Barlow and Stephen Hill were also strong contributors, while Michael Johnson had control across half-back and run-with player Ryan Crowley limited Richmond’s Brett Deledio to 15 disposals.
Lyon said Fremantle would go into its bye week “feeling good about ourselves”.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick lamented his team’s attack on the ball.
“We just didn’t go in hard enough,” he said. “They were smashing into packs; we were sifting off.
“On a day like today that’s not going to cut it.”
Hardwick was also critical of his team’s ball use.
The Tigers had 15 more inside 50s but failed to punish Fremantle with accurate kicking for goal.
“We just didn’t capitalise,” Hardwick said.
Fremantle will take great heart from a rare victory at the MCG.
It had lost its previous 10 matches there, with its most recent victory coming in round four, 2007.