Fremantle stuns Cats
FREMANTLE 5.7 8.9 12.11 14.12 (96)
GEELONG 0.1 3.5 6.9 11.14 (80)
Fremantle: Pavlich 6, Ballantyne 3, Walters 2, Crowley, De Boer, Pearce
Geelong: Mackie 2, Hunt 2, Christensen, Duncan, Motlop, Selwood, Stokes, Vardy, Taylor
Fremantle: Pavlich, Barlow, Mundy, McPhee, Walters
Geelong: Selwood, Bartel, Corey, Mackie, Duncan
Geelong: Jonathan Simpkin replaced Jordan Murdoch in the third quarter.
Fremantle: Nick Suban replaced Leigh Spurr in the fourth quarter.
Reports: James Kelly (Geelong) reported for rough conduct on Tendai Mzungu by umpire Pannell in the third quarter.
Umpires: Bannister, Pannell, Rosebury
Official crowd: 44,460 at the MCG
Fremantle has caused a massive boilover in the second elimination final, defeating Geelong by 16 points on Saturday night at the MCG and knocking the reigning premiers out of the race for the flag.
Ross Lyon’s men took control of the game by kicking five unanswered goals in the first quarter, then shrugged off repeated fightbacks from the Cats to win 14.12 (96) to 11.13 (79).
Having recorded just its third finals victory in the club’s history, and first away from Patersons Stadium, Fremantle will now play Adelaide in a semi-final at AAMI Stadium next Friday night.
The winner of that game will meet Hawthorn in a Saturday afternoon preliminary final at the MCG, although Freo coach Ross Lyon certainly isn’t looking that far ahead.
“At the end of the day … we’ve finished seventh and we’ve come and won one final,” Lyon said after the game.
“There’s no coming of age. This is about one week and one final. That’s all it means. We get to go to the next grid and have a go.
“One win doesn’t make or break football clubs, we haven’t achieved anything yet so let’s be really clear on that.”
Freo skipper Matthew Pavlich, who overwhelmed Tom Lonergan, led the way on the scoreboard. Pavlich booted six goals, thanks largely to some brilliant delivery from teammates Michael Barlow (26 possessions) and Stephen Hill (21 touches).
Small forwards Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters also ran riot in attack. Ballantyne finished with three goals and Walters booted two.
Tagger Ryan Crowley, who blanketed gun Cats midfielder James Kelly, was among the other key contributors, as was defender Zac Dawson, who was given the big job on Tom Hawkins in the absence of Luke McPharlin. Dawson held Hawkins to nine disposals, two marks and two behinds.
Geelong, which was without suspended star Steve Johnson, looked a shadow of the team that ended its home and away campaign with an impressive win over the Sydney Swans.
The Cats took until the 19th minute of the second quarter to score their first goal, and they were unable to recover from the slow start.
Joel Selwood (28 possessions) led from the front as always, and Josh Hunt and Andrew Mackie kicked two goals, but Geelong has suffered its earliest finish to a season since it missed the top eight in 2006.
“We were really disappointed with the start,” Cats coach Chris Scott said. “If you were going to look on the bright side, the last three quarters was a bit more the way we wanted to play.
“But it was like déjà vu. In round one they got five goals up and made it very difficult for us to get back.
“They were better around the ball, and delivered the ball inside 50 really well, and we executed our skills quite poorly – some crucial fumbles. Its hard when you give a quality side like that that big a start.”
In what was almost certainly his last game in the AFL, champion defender Matthew Scarlett had an entertaining battle with Chris Mayne. Scarlett finished with 10 possessions, while Mayne gathered 15 but didn’t kick a goal.
While Scarlett is unlikely to suit up in round one next year, Kelly might also be sidelined after he was reported for high bump on Mzungu in the third quarter.
Despite going into the game as a rank underdog, Fremantle dominated the early stages of the game to an extraordinary extent. By quarter-time the visitors had registered 18 inside 50s to eight and 12 scoring shots to one.
And it was more of the same in the second term. When Clancee Pearce kicked Freo’s seventh goal in the 16th minute of the second quarter, the score was 7.9 (51) to 0.4 (4) and the game was good as over.
Geelong looked shell-shocked at that stage, with established stars like Jimmy Bartel continually fumbling the ball.
After Mackie finally brought up the Cats’ first goal, Chris Scott’s men rallied briefly, narrowing the gap to 29 points.
But it wasn’t until the third quarter that they seriously threatened to work their way back into the contest. Geelong twice closed to within four goals, but Freo answered every challenge, with Pavlich and Ballantyne booting brilliant running goals just before the last change.
Scott threw his team around in the final quarter, sending James Podsiadly to full-back and Harry Taylor to full-forward.
Another brief rally from the Cats ensued, but Freo held its nerve and recorded a landmark win.