Fantastic Freo end Demons’ 17-game win streak; star’s all-time low sums it up: 3-2-1
And the season is alive.
Fremantle has broken Melbourne’s 17-match winning streak and declared itself a true premiership contender with a remarkable comeback win.
After kicking just two goals in the opening half, the purple tsunami broke the banks of the MCG, kicking eight goals to one as part of a 42-point third-quarter turnaround that put Justin Longmuir’s men in front.
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Keeping Melbourne goalless for 50 minutes to end the game, the Dockers ran out 14.10 (94) to 7.14 (56) winners, handing the reigning premiers their first loss since Round 19 last year.
This was the Dockers’ only game at the MCG for the 2022 season - unless they’re back there for the finals. Which, on this form, they will be.
The loss was the first in Melbourne defender Jake Bowey’s 18-game career.
Fremantle’s small forwards were pivotal, with Lachie Schultz bagging an equal career-high four goals and Michael Frederick adding “the touch of the season”.
Scroll down for the 3-2-1 match analysis.
QUARTER-BY-QUARTER MATCH REPORT
Fremantle pulled off a surprise move with defender Griffin Logue heading forward in a bid to quell the influence of Melbourne superstar Steven May.
Logue has been one of the Dockers most reliable defenders in 2022, with plenty of Melbourne clubs showing interest in the out-of-contract 24-year-old.
“It’s a massive compliment to the back six and Steven May himself,” commentator Garry Lyon said.
And the May-Logue match up was quickly in the thick of the action as Fremantle owned the territory in the opening 10 minutes.
“Logue hasn’t played a hell of a lot of footy forward,” Lyon said.
“That’s going to be different. He’s got to read some cues from what’s going on up the ground.”
“There’s no point him just standing next to Steven May, because he’ll peel off and assist Jake Lever with Matt Taberner so Logue has to present in different areas to draw May away,” Jason Dunstall added.
But with Fremantle sitting 17th in accuracy in 2022, they once again couldn’t find an early avenue to goal with Darcy Tucker and Rory Lobb wasting their early opportunities.
It was Lobb who slotted the first when Travis Colyer lowered the eyes and hit up the big forward on a tight angle from 40m.
But the Demons found the immediate response from “pivotal” Bayley Fritsch after a David Mundy missed tackle in the middle of the ground allowed Jack Viney to hit the target inside 50.
“Twelve inside 50s for one goal. That’s the challenge for Fremantle right now,” Lyon said.
But the Demons’ day soured moments later when May was cleaned up by teammate Jake Lever.
Lever’s shoulder slammed into May’s face as he attempted a spoil, and he then slammed into the MCG turf.
Despite trying to stay out on the ground, May was sent for a concussion test.
“He’s gone down into the rooms with the doctors and the physios,” commentator Nick Dal Santo said.
“It was both the head knock and landing for Steven May.”
While the defender was off the ground, Logue was able to take a big mark inside forward 50. But again, the Dockers couldn’t make Melbourne pay on the scoreboard as Logue sprayed his shot.
Despite having all the territory in the opening term, Fremantle could only manage 1.6 to Melbourne’s 2.2 at quarter time.
It was during the first change that May’s day was officially deemed over, with the star defender subbed out of the match.
But his absence did little to stop Melbourne’s run as the Demons kicked four goals for the second quarter - extending their run to six.
“This is the issue for Justin Longmuir and the coaching staff, (Clayton) Oliver has 19 (disposals) – Melbourne can get on a roll, they’ve kicked the last four goals. They are always hard to score against. Do you put work into Oliver? Or back your system?” Lyon questioned.
“It’s beautiful to watch if you’re a Melbourne fan. If you’re the opposition team, you’ve just got the hold on.”
Melbourne were able to go forward with ease before the Dockers could stem the bleeding on the scoreboard.
“(Fremantle) planned so well and executed everywhere except the scoreboard in the first term,” Dunstall lamented.
“Now they are getting punished by a team that sits at the top of the ladder because they can finish. They’re all class.”
Lyon said the game had “flipped on its head” in the second as suddenly it was Melbourne winning the inside 50 count 14-4.
“Fremantle just didn’t make the most of their opportunities,” Lyon said.
Lobb was able to add his second goal just two minutes out from half time, but for the third straight week, the Dockers could only manage two goals to the main break.
“It’s looking dangerous for Fremantle now,” commentator Dwayne Russell said, as Melbourne held a 25-point lead at half time.
But it was fired up Fremantle that came out in the third term, kicking two goals in a matter of minutes after managing just two goals in the opening half.
Already without May, Harrison Petty limped off the ground in a worrying sign for the Melbourne defence.
And with Petty on the bench, Fremantle’s forwards lit up. Taberner got his second for the quarter when undersized Jayden Hunt was left to defend in the goal square.
“That’s the kick you have to make,” Dunstall said.
“You’ve got a mismatch because Petty’s standing on the bench.
“You’ve got Jayden Hunt trying to pick up Taberner. He’s too big, too strong so you are forced to give up the free kick.”
Lyon was full of praise for the Dockers’ pressure.
“There’s enough evidence for Fremantle to get going and go quick in the air,” he said.
“They can’t get Petty on quick enough. Rory Lobb has been fantastic from the opening bounce, Taberner is starting to get involved and they are starting mark the footy.
“They are starting to prey on a little bit of uncertainty with this Melbourne defence. They’ve ramped up the pressure Fremantle.”
Despite Bayley Fritsch adding a big goal for the Dees, the third quarter belonged to Fremantle as they kicked eight goals for the term.
“The hunters have become the hunted here,” Russell said.
“It’s been phenomenal this comeback from Fremantle.
“They look lightning all over the ground.”
The Dockers kicked six straight after the Fritsch goal, with big ruckman Sean Darcy putting the visitors in front.
Michael Walters and Lachie Schultz added goals late in the quarter to really put the pressure back on the reigning premiers heading into the final term, with a 17-point lead.
“It’s one of the great quarters in the club’s history,” commentator Anthony Hudson said.
“Eight goals to one.”
“They just completely dominated the reigning premiers,” Dunstall said.
“It started in the opening bounce and didn’t stop for half an hour.
“Instead of composure coming out of Melbourne’s defence, it was a hack kick.”
Heading into the final term, Bailey Banfield was activated as the medical sub, with Taberner coming from the field with a back complaint.
But his absence did little to stem the Dockers dominance with Michael Frederick breaking the 11-minute final quarter deadlock to push the game beyond Melbourne’s reach.
The Dockers slowed the game down in the final term, opting to go to open players than take the risk through the middle.
“Melbourne are a momentum side that need urgency on the all. Fremantle have taken the pace out of the game,” Lyon said.
“It’s keepies off right now.”
Schultz added his third goal for the day minutes later and the “Freo” chant went up around the MCG as the margin pushed out to six goals.
It’s the first time in three years Fremantle have tasted victory at the MCG, and only their second win in their past seven games at the venue.
THE 3-2-1 - What we learned, via David Zita
3) DOCKERS STAMP CREDENTIALS IN PREMIERSHIP QUARTER
The third quarter is referred to as the premiership quarter and on Saturday it may well have been the announcement of the Dockers as bonafide premiership contenders.
Back-to-back losses to the Suns and Pies had many concerned about their method and their inability to hit the scoreboard, but everything clicked in an extraordinary third quarter that saw a 25-point deficit become an 18-point lead.
The stats sheet was mind-boggling.
“It was (for Melbourne) their own medicine,” Dees great Garry Lyon said at three-quarter time.
“They were +8 from centre clearances, it was 9-1, they kicked two goals from center clearance, they kicked two goals from throw in.
“They dominated around clearance and scored and then they scored another four goals from turnover.”
Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall added: “It was 17-7 in clearances around the ground. That means all the territory is in Freo’s forward half. The inside 50s were 20-11 and that opens up scoring opportunities.”
The Dockers refused to let up in the final term, too, and simply could not miss after an incredibly inaccurate opening term.
2) MAY-DAY STRIKES FOR DEES
Friendly fire from partner-in-crime Jake Lever in the first quarter saw Steven May ruled out under the concussion rule and it may well have proven he’s the side’s most important player.
Even heading into the match, the Dockers threw out their usual structures in a bid to thwart the supreme intercepting of both May and Lever, swinging Griffin Logue forward.
“We want to engage their tall defenders so we’re going to send Griffin Logue forward and try and be a little bit taller up front and give him a job on May to make sure that he doesn’t roll off and become the loose,” coach Justin Longmuir told Fox Footy pre-game.
“We want to really engage their deeper backs, try get a bit of speed on the ball and bring our small forwards into the game as well.”
It didn’t happen immediately once May went down, with the Dockers failing to take the game on and make the most of their chances.
“They had field position in the first quarter Fremantle and didn’t make the most of it. They kicked two goals for a half against a team that just won’t let you score,” Garry Lyon said at half-time.
“There’d be some learnings from it. I think you need to come and you’ve got to go, you’ve got to take the game on against them, the slower you go the more you play into the hands of this defence.”
They must’ve listened. As the Dockers came out from the main break with a desire to take the game on more, the backline of the Dees came under pressure it has rarely felt this season, with May’s absence looming large over the entire match.
As things stand, Sydney will not have Lance Franklin for next week’s game against the Dees due to suspension, which is somewhat of a relief for a Dees side that will be without May.
Still, the Dockers are not the most threatening forward line in the competition and yet they blew the reigning premiers apart with the defence exposed.
1) DEES’ DYNAMIC DUO’S DOUR DAY
Christian Petracca had a day he will very much like to forget - not only did the side lose, but he finished with 10 disposals - the lowest count of his entire AFL career.
The Norm Smith medallist had a couple of chances to hit the scoreboard but wasn’t able to convert despite sending a fair amount of time forward.
Petracca well and truly has enough credits in the bank to write this performance off, as do the Dees as a whole, but it’s no less striking to read.
Clayton Oliver was on track for a record disposal tally when he had a staggering 20 disposals just four minutes into the second quarter.
At half-time, James Aish was sent to the star ball-winner and put in an incredible performance.
From that point on, both finished with 12 disposals apiece, while Aish actually outdid Oliver at clearance, with four to Oliver’s two.
It was a massive win for Fremantle and contirbuted to the win as a whole, while even Sean Darcy well and truly nullified Max Gawn.
It’s incredibly rare to see all three humbled on the same day - expect a fierce response next week.