Fremantle could face a harsh fall-out from today’s 29-point loss to Collingwood at the MCG which has put further pressure on their 2012 finals aspirations.
The Dockers appeared set for a flogging early in the match, but though they found considerable fight and even dominated for periods after quarter time, they still failed to match the league-leading powerhouse and lost 15.17 (107) to 12.6 (78). It was Collingwood's 10th consecutive win.
The defeat could also have further ramifications with youngster Lachie Neale suffering an ankle injury that forced his substitution from the game just after half time, while Nick Lower will be assessed by the AFL match review panel for a third-quarter shepherd that forced Tyson Goldsack from the field.
Collingwood could not shake West Coast for an entire match just a week earlier, but today it looked as though they would take Fremantle out within a quarter.
Both coaches were happy to trade with a spare man in defence, but it was preparedness to run by the Magpies which provided superiority. The Dockers had more disposals in the first term, but they often over-possessed and their rivals were far more efficient.
Dane Swan, Dayne Beams and Sharrod Wellingham were allowed too much space through the midfield and by the end of the first term they had helped Collingwood to an inside 50 advantage of 14-6 and a three-goal lead.
Fremantle were guilty of obsessively handballing in the back half, often sending teammates into unnecessary trouble. Central to their problem was that they had no forward system and their first score was a 70-metre rolling behind from youngster Lachie Neale after 21 minutes.
The Magpies took complete control of the game in the first 10 minutes of the second quarter as they banged on four unanswered goals to open up a 40-point lead. It looked as though the Dockers were already doomed, but they found some fight.
They actually dominated for 10-minute period as Michael Barlow almost single-handedly stood up to the midfield onslaught. But simple set-shot misses cost Fremantle the chance to cut deeply into the deficit and they went into the half-time break 25 points in arrears.
Though Collingwood would also have been lamenting their inability to score more during their periods of dominance, having gone into their attacking area 17 more times for the half.
The third quarter followed much the same script as the second as the Magpies launched into another scoring spree to again jump to a 35-point lead after nine minutes.
But again, Fremantle mustered a period of impressive contested football to kick four straight goals for the term to trail by just 17 with 21 minutes played. To continue the trend, Collingwood then steadied with Swan at the fore to pump the buffer back out to 31 points with a quarter to play as rain started to tumble.
The final quarter largely lacked sting and although neither had real periods of momentum, the Magpies had already done more than enough to win.