Fremantle's fight for a finals finish hit a hurdle today in a 28-point loss to Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.
The undermanned Dockers never found rhythm in the match while the consistent Crows stepped closer to confirming a top-two position with a commanding 17.17 (119) to 14.7 (91) win.
Fremantle suffered a major blow before the first bounce when star midfielder Nat Fyfe was a shock late withdrawal because of what the club said was a rolled ankle. Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said after the match he knew little of the injury, which he believed Fyfe suffered in an accident in his bedroom this morning. Alex Silvagni was also withdrawn because of illness.
Lyon was also cautious over ruckman Aaron Sandilands’ optimism of being available to play against Richmond at Patersons stadium next Saturday.
Emergencies Dylan Roberton and Lachie Neale were called into the team as their replacements. Chris Mayne was substituted out of the game after copping a heavy knock in a marking contest just before half time.
Adelaide looked to steal the early march and dominated possession in the opening minutes, but only got one goal for their reward.
After last night’s game between West Coast and Geelong had been punctuated with several penalties for deliberately putting the ball out of bounds, umpire Dean Margetts gave a similar free kick against Kepler Bradley at the six minute mark of the first term.
It set the early standard, but the first half performance of the three umpires was at times baffling and at others, poor.
The Crows snuck to an eight-point break at the end of the first quarter with taylor Walker looming as the most dominant forward on the ground, with defender Daniel Talia doing a good job at the other end on in-form Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich.
Both teams mustered some strong defensive mechanisms in the second term, with the Dockers particularly inflicting great pressure on their Adelaide opponents as they tried to drive out of defence.
With Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley keeping regular ball magnet Scott Thompson to no possessions in the second term, it was left to Patrick Dangerfield and Matthew Wright to lift the home team through the middle.
But with Stephen Hill, David Mundy and Michael Barlow combining well for the Dockers, the visitors never let their rivals get too far in front.
Although Fremantle grabbed the lead nearing half time on a true set shot from Bradley, the Crows snatched it straight back through the livewire Ian Callinan and they took a four-point buffer into the main break.
While Adelaide dominated possession in the first two quarters, Fremantle were the masters in the contested areas of the game and that was keeping them in the match.
The fact that they had earned 28 inside 50s to just 18 probably suggested they should have been in front.
But it meant nothing as the Crows produced what was the most compelling period of momentum for the match in the third term. Sparked by Dangerfield, who booted a pair of inspirational goals from 60 metres, they took control of the contest with some fierce pressure of their own.
They had 19 to 11 inside 50s for the third term and dominated the contested possessions to slip 22 points clear with a quarter to play.
Fremantle got the start they needed in the final term with a goal after just 55 seconds to Clancee Pearce. But they could not get enough momentum through the clearances to make a serious challenge and the Crows held on for an important win.ADELAIDE 4.5 7.8 12.15 17.17 (119)
FREMANTLE 3.3 7.4 10.5 14.7 (91)Goals: Adelaide – Walker 4, Wright, Callinan, Dangerfield 2, Thompson, Sloane, Mackay, Vince, Johncock, Douglas, Riley 1. Fremantle – Walters 3, Pavlich 2, Ballantyne, Barlow, Mayne, Bradley, Neale, Hill, De Boer, Duffield, Pearce.
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