Fremantle has asserted itself as a genuine force to be reckoned with this season after a thrilling away win over Geelong.
Despite coming into the match with the likes of Sean Darcy and Matt Taberner absent through injury, the Dockers overcame an early three-goal deficit to run out 10. 9. (69) to 10. 6. (66) winners in front of a stunned crowd at Geelong’s GMHBA Stadium.
It was the fourth win in Geelong in Fremantle’s club history, dropping the Cats’ home record to a remarkable 65-12 since the 2012 season. Three of Geelong’s 12 home losses since 2012 have been to the Dockers.
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The Dockers looked headed towards a heavy loss when Tom Hawkins, Tyson Stengle and Mark Blicavs slammed on three goals in a six-minute span to open the game, before Rory Lobb got Fremantle on the board.
After conceding five goals in the opening term, Fremantle closed down Geelong in sensational fashion, allowing just a single goal through the next two quarters while slamming on five majors of its own to by 17 points at the final change.
Michael Frederick looked to have sealed the match when he gave the Dockers a 16-point lead with a goal at the 21-minute mark of the final term, before consecutive goals to Stengle and Blicavs set up a grandstand finish.
Geelong was left with 29 seconds to steal the match with a clean centre clearance after Blicavs’ goal, but was stymied by Dockers veteran David Mundy, who put in several repeat efforts to keep the ball in congestion as the Cats ran out of time.
“We came here just not quite sure about Freo just yet. Well, there’s some more money in the bank,” Saints great Nick Dal Santo told Fox Footy after the Dockers’ win.
“They were up against it early, they fought back and worked their way through it and that midfield stood up.
“Don’t underestimate this win for this group, the journey across for this group to put themselves up against one of the best and to come out on top.”
The win continues Fremantle’s brilliant start to the season, with Justin Longmuir’s side currently second on the AFL ladder with a 6-1 record and a healthy percentage of 138.2.
Fremantle’s efforts were led by the tireless Andrew Brayshaw (28 disposals) and Blake Acres (27 disposals and one goal), while Lachie Schultz, Lobb and Frederick all kicked two goals apiece to take up the slack in Taberner’s absence.
All-Australian defender Tom Stewart was outstanding in Geelong’s backline, leading all players with 40 disposals and 14 marks, while off-season recruit Tyson Stengle enjoyed another strong outing with three goals and 14 touches.
Fremantle will hope to continue its bright start to the season next week when it hosts a struggling North Melbourne side at Optus Stadium next Friday.
Geelong faces a tough trip to Canberra to face a suddenly in-form Giants side in round eight.
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