A late flurry of goals by the Fremantle Dockers wasn’t enough to get them over the hump as the Carlton Blues used a fantastic three and a half quarters to run away 10.5.(65)-7.15.(57) winners at Pattersons Stadium in Perth.
The elite midfield of the Blues held the team together, along with some awful kicking in front of goals by the Dockers, as they collected a sound win against a quality opponent.
Fremantle were brilliant to begin the game. They got their first goal when Pavlich was awarded a free kick, played on and fed Tendai Mzungu who pumped a ball into a vacant 50 for Stephen Hill to run into.
After a long scoring drought, the Dockers gave up their hold on the game and Luke McPharlin failed to mark in defense, allowing Jeff Garlett to crumb and goal. The Blues got a second consecutive major when Shaun Hampson marked and goaled.
The Dockers were again good, and maybe better, in the second but some gettable misses and silly mistakes allowed Carlton to lead by a handful at the half.
Fremantle kicked the second quarter’s first goal when Pavlich, running through the middle of the ground, speared a kick 50 meters to Chris Mayne who made no mistake with the set shot.
McPharlin cost the Dockers another goal when he held Jarred Waite in a marking contest then shortly after Ed Curnow dribbled an ugly ball past a contest, which bounced kindly to an open Andrew Walker who ran into the open goal.
The Dockers stayed close when Nat Fyfe fed Hayden Ballantyne in congestion allowing the little man to take off like a rocket. He changed direction a couple of time to lose his defender and slotted through an exciting goal.
Eddie Betts out marked the much the taller Paul Duffield to get one back for the Blues and give the visitors a bit of breathing room and they were lucky to escape successive misses by Michael Barlow, Matt De Boer and Mzungu.
Despite Fremantle doubling Carlton’s scoring opportunities, the Blues had two late shots on goal as the half faded away- Kade Simpson nailed one and Waite was unlucky to have his massive effort from beyond 50 hit the post.
The second quarter mistakes that gave the Blues a little room at the half killed Fremantle to begin the second as Carlton turned the game upside by booting three goals in the first 10 minutes. Garlett got the first, a beautiful effort around his body and Mitch Robinson added another when he bullied himself through a pack and slung an accurate ball onto his boot. Walker added the third at the eight minute mark and Fremantle appeared to be in big trouble.
Their play didn’t drastically improve over the second part of the quarter but they did stop Carlton from scoring again. A late goal by Zac Clarke gave Fremantle some hope, cutting the deficit to 25 points, but a miss from Zac Dawson a couple of seconds before the three-quarter time siren would have been helpful.
Fremantle appeared done and dusted when Carlton booted two early goals to begin the fourth, including Robinson’s second a minute and a half into the term. But the Dockers stormed back to kick three goals in the final five minutes- Matthew Pavlich, Ryan Crowley and McPharlin- but it was old case of too little, too late and Carlton snuck out of Perth with a 65-57 win.
Simpson was fantastic with 35 possessions and was backed well by Heath Scotland and Marc Murphy who combine for 58 disposals.
Barlow, David Mundy and Mzungu were all great for Fremantle but their slow decision making in the fourth cost them down the stretch when they finally made their run.