Jackson inspires Dockers to thrilling upset of Demons

·3-min read
Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

Luke Jackson has inspired a resurgent Fremantle to a thrilling seven-point win over Melbourne in an outstanding first match against his former AFL club.

The Dockers conquered the Demons at the MCG for the second year in a row, taking control of the tight and tense contest by kicking 5.2 to 2.3 in the third quarter.

Unlike last year's clash, when Melbourne failed to fire a shot in the last quarter, the Demons lifted late on Saturday but Fremantle were able to withstand the pressure.

Up by 15 points, the Dockers hung on to win 12.7 (79) to 10.12 (72) for their fourth-straight victory to jump inside the top-eight for the first time this season.

Jackson turned the match in Fremantle's favour in the third quarter when he was forced to take on the Dockers' ruck duties solo.

Towering Fremantle ruckman Sean Darcy was substituted out late in the second quarter with a hamstring injury in a major blow for the visitors.

But his absence allowed Jackson, who moved to Fremantle during the off-season following three years and a premiership with Melbourne, to take control of the tight tussle.

In similar fashion to his game-changing turn in the Demons' 2021 grand final victory, Jackson was dominant out of the middle and finished with a career-best eight clearances.

The 21-year-old, who was heavily criticised in Western Australia during Fremantle's early-season form struggles, received some jeers from the 29,154 fans but the reception was largely respectful.

"He lives in the moment and takes every moment on its merits," Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said of Jackson.

"He prepared for the things that Melbourne could have done to him today, going after him or the crowd booing him and had a plan in place if it happened.

"I'm pretty sure he'd be glad to get that first game over and done with."

A "frustrated" Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin thought Jackson had a "solid game".

"I'm sure they'd (Fremantle) be pretty happy with his performance," Goodwin said.

"I thought that (ruck) battle was pretty even in the end, but you know, 'Jacko' had a significant impact on the game."

Classy Melbourne forward Kysaiah Pickett reduced the margin to two points with three minutes to go but dynamo Bailey Banfield immediately kicked truly at the other end to seal the result for the Dockers.

Angus Brayshaw had a set shot with 90 seconds left but the prolific Demons midfielder sprayed it right.

Both forward lines struggled to fire in a low-scoring contest but young Dockers talls Jye Amiss (three goals) and Josh Treacy (two) made crucial contributions.

Andrew Brayshaw, Angus' younger brother, starred for Fremantle in the middle, as did Caleb Serong.

Melbourne's second-straight defeat leaves them at 7-4 ahead of a Friday night clash with struggling Carlton.

Goodwin was coy about Clayton Oliver's fitness, refusing to declare whether the star midfielder would be available to return from a hamstring injury after being sorely missed against Fremantle.

The Dockers have revived their season to be 6-5 leading into a bye next weekend.

Longmuir was unsure how bad Darcy's hamstring injury was and the 24-year-old will get it scanned on the team's return to Perth on Sunday.