Pav’s eight sinks Eagles
FREMANTLE 4.2 7.6 15.9 17.11 (113)
WEST COAST 1.5 1.10 5.11 6.12 (48)
Fremantle: Pavlich 8, Ballantyne 3, Walters 2, Mzungu 2, Pearce, Mundy.
West Coast: Darling 2, Lynch, Hams, Naitanui, Hurn.
Fremantle: Pavlich, Mundy, Barlow, Fyfe, Griffin, Crowley, Pearce, Ballantyne.
West Coast: Kerr, Waters, Gaff, Schofield.
West Coast: Nil
Fremantle: Dylan Roberton replaced Zac Dawson in the final quarter.
West Coast: Tom Swift replaced Brad Sheppard in the third quarter.
Reports: Luke McPharlin (Fremantle) for forceful front-on contact on Jack Darling in the first term; Matt de Boer (Fremantle) for attempted tripping in the second term.
Umpires: Stewart, Meredith, Jeffery
Official crowd: 39,694 at Patersons Stadium
Fremantle has stunned West Coast to win its first derby since 2010 by a record 65 points, with captain Matthew Pavlich booting eight goals and driving his team back into finals contention.
Pavlich, who was unanimously voted the Ross Glendinning medallist as best on ground, was outstanding as Fremantle won its fifth straight match – 17.11 (113) to 6.12 (48).
The skipper has now booted 55 goals for the season, overtaking Hawthorn’s Lane Franklin and North Melbourne’s Drew Petrie to lead the Coleman Medal.
However, an incident in the third quarter that saw Pavlich clip opponent Mitch Brown high with a glancing blow is likely to be assessed by the Match Review Panel.
Also on report were defender Luke McPharlin, for making forceful front-on contact to Jack Darling, and midfielder Matt de Boer, for attempted tripping.
Fremantle’s fifth consecutive win – and the significant percentage boost that came with it – strengthened the club’s finals chances, which could still hinge on a round 22 showdown against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
West Coast, meanwhile, which managed just one goal in a dismal first half, is in danger of losing touch with the top four altogether after sitting atop the AFL ladder for much of this season.
The Eagles were left stunned by a ruthless tackling attack from Fremantle in the first quarter (22-10) and they never recovered, with Daniel Kerr (36 disposals and 11 clearances) fighting a lone battle in a midfield that was dominated for the third time in four weeks.
Fremantle stopper Ryan Crowley bypassed Kerr and went to Luke Shuey instead, holding the young Eagle to just 11 disposals and two clearances.
Meanwhile, Fremantle trio David Mundy (27 disposals and seven clearances), Michael Barlow (27 and five) and Nat Fyfe (28 and eight) played their best combined game after a season full of form struggles and injury interruptions.
With ruckman Jon Griffin contesting superbly against Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui, Freo was able to gain an advantage in clearances (49-36) and inside 50s (56-36).
Coach Ross Lyon labeled it the team’s best four-quarter performance this season, praising his midfield’s impact.
“It is the engine room, it’s called that for a reason, and all those guys (Mundy, Barlow and Fyfe) have had legitimate struggles throughout the year,” Lyon said.
“It’s a credit to them that they’ve persisted and persevered to give themselves an opportunity as the season’s rolled on … it is really important.”
The last Derby, in round nine this season, saw Fremantle restricted to 5.6 (36) – it’s lowest score a Patersons Stadium – but Lyon’s men have come a long way since.
In front of a ‘home’ crowd, Freo burst out of the blocks with a focus on kicking at every opportunity and tackling with ferocity.
Pavlich was far too good for Eric Mackenzie and at half-time his team was 32 points clear, with a 50m set shot from Jack Darling the Eagles’ only goal.
Brown was shifted onto Pavlich in the second half, with coach John Worsfold unable to call on suspended captain Darren Glass.
The match opened up in the third quarter, but every West Coast goal seemed to be answered immediately, with Freo goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne kicking three for the quarter.
His sidestep of Shannon Hurn late in the term was mesmerising and his right-foot snap finish clinical, giving Fremantle a 51-point lead and snuffing out any chance of a rally from the Eagles.
Coach John Worsfold said his team’s lacklustre midfield performance was a worrying trend over the last month, having lost the clearances in each of its last four games, resulting in three losses.
“We’re aware of that and it’s something we need to address,” the coach said.
“We don’t have a lot of options right at the moment but there’s other things we’ll have to look at trying.
“[Personnel] has to come into it, for sure. If the guys in there aren’t performing at the level we require them to, then we’ll have to look at other options.”