Dockers break derby drought
Fremantle has ended an 11 game losing streak to cross town rivals West Coast, holding off a fast finishing Eagles side to win a famous Western Derby 53 at Optus Stadium.
The Dockers led by as much as 40 points at the ten minute mark of the second term as they kicked ten of the first 13 goals of the match, but then needed to withstand an Eagles side that lifted significantly after half time, Caleb Serong kicking one of the goals of the year from the right forward pocket to seal the match on his way to the Glendinning Allan Medal for best afield.
The 12.7 (79) to 9.10 (64) result was the Dockers first win over West Coast since round 3 2015, keeping their finals hopes alive while putting a major dent in the Eagles chances of finals football.
In perfect conditions for football the Eagles started in ominous fashion, spearhead Kennedy kicking truly from the boundary in the opening minute to give his side the perfect start.
David Mundy responded in kind in his record equalling 353rd game for the club, slotting a goal on the run from 40 metres as the intensity was up early in the match.
Kennedy quickly had his second but Fremantle was starting to get the game on it's terms, Matt Taberner proving hard to stop as he kicked three opening term goals, the Dockers slamming on eight for the term in a remarkable start to the contest.
Josh Treacy added a stunning left foot snap from the boundary as the Dockers found their radar in front of goal, heading in to quarter time with a 30 point lead.
When Cerra and Lachie Schultz kicked back-to-back goals to open the second term, the margin was a game-high 40 points and the Eagles looked bereft of answers.
They finally got the game on their terms for a period thereafter, controlling possession and taking the speed out of the game, but missed opportunities meant they didn't make up the ground they needed.
They wasted their chances in front of goal however, returning 1.5 for the term to still trail by 31 points at the half.
Both teams were down a player with Connor Blakely (hamstring) and Tim Kelly (left knee) subbed out of the game, medical subs Brett Bewley and Zac Langdon injected in to the game.
After a tense first ten minutes of the quarter that included a score review on a Josh Kennedy snap adjudged a behind that appeared to be a goal it was Liam Ryan who broke the scoring deadlock, kicking his second major of the match.
Former Brisbane Lion Alex Witherden slotted a long bomb to kick his first goal in blue and gold, the Eagles storming back in to the contest when Jack Darling slotted his set shot to leave the margin at 11 points.
A late Travis Colyer goal proved vital for Fremantle, their first score since the ten minute mark of the second term a major that left the margin at 17 points with a quarter to play.
Another score review went against the Eagles when Jamie Cripps snap was rightly overruled as touched 20 seconds in to the final term, but when Ryan and Kennedy both found the major opening it was a one kick game with plenty of time to play.
Serong then produced a moment for Western Derby folklore when he pounced on a ball in the right forward pocket, keeping it alive when the ball seemed certain to end up out of play before snapping a brilliant goal with a check side snap from deep in the right forward pocket.
Replays later confirmed the ball should have been deemed out of play, Adam Cerra's kick that was gathered by Serong coming from beyond the boundary line. Alas for Eagles fans the goal stood, and the margin would prove beyond the Eagles in the final ten minutes as the Dockers clung on for their most significant victory of the season.
Serong was crowned the Glendinning-Allan medallist for the first time in his career, winning 32 disposals, 6 clearances and kicking two pivotal goals.
Defender Luke Ryan was a brick wall with 26 disposals, 10 marks and 11 rebound 50s, while Mundy (28, seven clearances and a goal) continued a great season in his record-equalling game.
Adam Cerra (21, five clearances and a goal) was crucial in Andrew Brayshaw's absence, while Sean Darcy (27 hit-outs, seven clearances and a goal) held his own in an entertaining ruck battle with Nic Naitanui.
Andrew Gaff had a game high 34 disposals in a workmanlike performance for West Coast, Jack Redden and returning skipper Luke Shuey (25 disposals) trying in vain to lift their side over the line.
"We had a real focus on the contest, we tried to throw a few different things at West Coast and we connected well. We got on the front foot early," Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said post match.
"We're proud to bounce back from last week, and grateful to keep our season alive."
Eagles coach Adam Simpson was left to lament another poor start.
“I thought Fremantle were good all day, they were at their best. We missed our opportunity to grab the game back. But the damage was done in the first quarter.”
“We have to tip our hats to Fremantle. They were too good for us.
“We’re still alive. We have to find a way to get around the boys and have a swing. But you get what you deserve in this game and we are where we deserve to be.”
Fremantle and West Coast both require wins and other results to fall their way to qualify for finals in round 23, the Eagles heading to Queensland to play Brisbane at the Gabba while Fremantle's match with St Kilda is set to be moved to Launceston to help the team avoid quarantine upon return to Western Australia.
IMAGE: The West Australian.