Fremantle’s defensive style of play paid dividends on Sunday as they defeated Port Adelaide by 40-points, 12.15.87-7.5.47, conceding just seven goals in the process. Captain Matthew Pavlich stole the show by kicking his 500th goal in the closing stages, becoming just the 51st player in VFL/AFL history to reach the mark.
Port Adelaide actually went up by 13 points in a solid first quarter effort but a late showing enabled Fremantle to tie the game at quarter time. John Butcher opened the scoring with a goal from the boundary line after Michael Barlow sprayed a ball out on the full. Broadbent kicked Port’s second before Stewart recovered from a one-on-one situation in the goal square to scissor kick number three over his head.
Crowley kicked an early one for Freo, a brilliant effort on the run from 60 meters and Pavlich buried goal number 497 nearing the quarter’s end, but unforgivable misses by Crowley and Hill became wasted opportunities.
Already an ugly game, play didn’t improve dramatically in the second despite Fremantle dominating the scoreboard with a four goal to none term. Port’s quarter effectively cost them the game, very similar to last week’s shocking second quarter against Richmond that saw the Tigers blow open the game for good.
They made a number of mistakes as Freo turned the press on with turnovers and free kicks allowing Pavlich, Pearce and Ballantyne to register majors.
Pavlich kicked number three before Port produced their only attack of substance for the quarter but Broadbent slammed his attempt into the post after taking a close inside-50 mark.
But Port were able to threaten with the first goal of the third courtesy of Justin Westhoff until De Boer was able to reply after taking a strong mark going forward.
It felt as if Fremantle had smelt the blood in the water and were closing in on haul of goals but they failed to make anything of substance from their dominant control of possession. As a result Brad Ebert gave a great run and scored on a Port counter-attack.
As the quarter neared an end John Butcher kicked truly when Luke McPharlin gave away a poor free kick. It brought the visitors within four goals heading into the final quarter where they stood to pose a real threat with the breeze behind them.
But in the end that breeze gave the Power no help at all as they kicked just one goal to Fremantle’s four. Sandilands provided the critical first goal, too tall for the defense and marking easily in congestion.
A streaker provided a different type of entertainment midway through the fourth but it was Pavlich who gave the crowd what they were really looking for. With under four minutes remaining and having gone the entire second half goalless, Pavlich marked 30 out, went back and kicked number 500 as the crowd cheered on with pride and admiration. The 30-year-old’s moment was a truly special one for a club that has experienced its share of turbulent years and although Fremantle haven’t been overly convincing in the last two weeks, it could be strong year as the move into sixth spot with a 5-2 record.
Despite the big win Fremantle will have to play at a higher level to beat the Hawks in Melbourne next weekend. A concern is their midfield which has lacked a certain class since Nat Fyfe shoulder injury.
Port have no dropped six in a row and can not threaten the top-8 from their current position. It would appear as if coach Matthew Primus faces another tough week of media scrutiny.