Fadeout proves costly
FREMANTLE 6.1 8.2 14.4 14.5 (89)
ESSENDON 5.2 10.4 13.5 17.11 (113)
Fremantle: Mayne 4, Pavlich 3, Clarke 2, Broughton 2, Barlow, Griffin, de Boer.
Essendon: Hurley 6, Monfries 2, Dell’Olio 2, Crameri 2, Heppell, Ryder, Hille, Melksham, Watson.
Fremantle: Pavlich, Barlow, Mayne, Ibbotson, Clarke, de Boer, Lower
Essendon: Hurley, Watson, Myers, Howlett, Ryder, Crameri, Carlisle
Fremantle: Jayden Pitt replaced Jesse Crichton at three-quarter time.
Essendon: Nathan Lovett-Murray replaced Angus Monfries in the third quarter.
Umpires: Schmitt, Meredith, Bannister
Official crowd: 34,567 at Patersons Stadium
Fremantle failed to kick a goal in the last quarter as Essendon came from behind to win its first game at Patersons Stadium since 2008, returning to the top four with a thrilling 24-point win on Saturday night.
The Bombers were staring at their third straight defeat when they fell 17 points behind late in the third quarter, but they kicked six unanswered goals either side of three-quarter time to set up the crucial win.
Key forward Michael Hurley returned to form to kick a career-best six goals, including a 50m set shot deep in the fourth quarter to ice the game.
The final score was 17.11 (113) to 14.5 (89), with Fremantle unable to kick a goal in the final term.
It was Essendon’s first win in June since 2009, with captain Jobe Watson inspirational with the game on the line, shaking a heavy tag from Ryan Crowley to collect eight disposals and kick a goal in the last quarter.
Coach James Hird said back-to-back goals in the dying minutes of the third term had been crucial in giving his players “impetus” to run the game out.
“It meant that we weren’t too far away and we just needed a couple of scores to keep us going,” the coach said.
“Michael’s goal on his left foot I thought was terrific, and Jobe, I can’t speak highly enough of Jobe.
“It wasn’t his greatest game – he didn’t have 40 possessions and I thought Crowley got the better of him in the second quarter – but often when you get beaten and you fight back, they’re the best performances.
“He kept fighting and fighting and willed his team over the line … he’s an outstanding midfielder.”
Freo coach Ross Lyon said he couldn’t question his players’ effort, and the midfield had functioned well for three quarters, winning the overall clearances (38-31) despite missing star ruckman Aaron Sandilands.
However, an inability to repeatedly get the ball inside 50 in the last quarter proved costly.
“It really is about our midfield supplying enough quality entries to make our forwards look dangerous,” the coach said.
“I thought they did look dangerous tonight. The last quarter, well, they were sort of impotent because the ball didn’t get there.
“You could put (ex-North Melbourne champion) Wayne Carey down there and he wouldn’t have looked too good in the last quarter.”
Bomber midfielders David Myers (28 disposals) and Ben Howlett (19 and four clearances) were also strong contributors for the Bombers, while Watson finished with 26 disposals (16 contested) and seven clearances.
Hurley, who had kicked just 7.10 in eight games coming into the match, was on fire early and by quarter time he had kicked three goals in a shootout opening.
It was Fremantle that had more opportunities, however, kicking its highest first quarter score under coach Ross Lyon – 6.1 (37) – and taking a five-point lead into the first break.
The free-flowing start, contrary to the style typical of Lyon’s teams, prompted Essendon assistant coach Mark Thompson to say the Bombers wanted to slow the fast-paced match down.
They succeeded in the second quarter, holding Fremantle to two goals and booting five themselves.
At the end of the term, forward Stewart Crameri took possession behind the centre circle and out-ran Luke McPharlin all the way to the goalsquare to kick a brilliant goal, sending the Bombers into half-time 14 points clear.
Fremantle opened the second half with five unanswered goals to build a 17-point buffer late in the quarter, with captain Matthew Pavlich standing up to kick two goals.
Pavlich finished with 11 marks and three goals in an outstanding performance, while midfielder Nick Lower had 30 disposals in his first game for the season.
Chris Mayne kicked four goals, but was starved of opportunities in the last quarter, with Fremantle going inside 50 just five times.
Essendon faces the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium next Saturday night, while Fremantle travels to the MCG to take on Collingwood.