Fremantle have celebrated their greatest player’s 300-game milestone with arguably their best performance of the season, defeating Geelong by 32 points at Patersons Stadium tonight.
The game went to script from the opening goal, with the man of the moment Matthew Pavlich converting an improbable set shot from a tight angle and bringing the crowd of 38,565 to their feet,
He would go on to kick the 600th goal of his career before quarter-time, whipping the crowd into a frenzy and helping his side go into the break with a 30-point lead.
It was a lead which proved too large for the Cats to overcome.
Pavlich was chaired off to a guard of honour, having finished the night with three goals in a big 13.18 (96) to 9.10 (64) win, with every Fremantle fan in the building staying in their seats to savour the moment.
David Mundy starred in the midfield with 34 disposals, while Hayden Ballantyne's three goals all came at critical points in the game.
Geelong skipper Joel Selwood was his side's best in a night which saw Ryan Crowley return to form and shut Steve Johnson out of the game.
The victory takes the Dockers' record to 5-4 going into next week’s bye and gives them a chance to target the top four after the break.
The Dockers were simply dominant in the opening term, returning to the pressure and quick, precise ball movement not seen since their impressive opening-round win over Collingwood.
When Pavlich kicked the first goal, you could sense it was going to be their night.
Stephen Hill and Danyle Pearce were cutting Geelong up through the middle of the ground and giving the Dockers scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity.
The home side would go into the first break having kicked five unanswered goals.
At quarter-time the Dockers led the disposal count 110-84, the clearances 13-5, the inside-50s 14-11 and handed the Cats their second goal-less quarter of the season.
Tom Hawkins finally kicked the first goal for the Cats within a minute of the second quarter bouncedown, then had a hand in a goal to Travis Varcoe four minutes later, giving their side some much-needed momentum.
But that momentum would stop suddenly as Hayden Ballantyne went on a long run, dodged two defenders and kicked one of the goals of the night from just inside the 50m line.
By half-time the margin was 30 points in Fremantle’s favour.
Geelong tried to change tact in the second half, and looked to control the ball and minimise the risk in the early stages.
It was a ploy that again saw them kick the first two goals of the term before a missed free kick against Zac Clarke in the forward 50 saw Paul Duffield stroll into goal.
Another two moments of brilliance from Ballantyne were to follow – first he kicked another running goal from a tight angle, then another after drawing a free in the forward 50 for a high fend off.
The Dockers went into the final quarter leading by 32 points, but again conceded the first goal, this time to Varcoe.
Steve Johnson had the chance to bring the deficit back to 20 points but missed a set shot from in directly in front and could only watch as the ball rebounded for a Michael Barlow goal at the other end.
The Cats kicked another two goals to stay in the contest, but when Tom Sheridan nailed a set shot at the 21-minute mark the game was all but over.
|GOALS - FREMANTLE: Pavlich, Ballantyne 3; Mzungu 2; Fyfe, Duffield, Barlow, Sheridan, D Pearce.|
GEELONG: Hawkins 3; Varcoe 2; Horlin-Smith, Bartel, Murdoch, Motlop.