Fremantle made a mockery of pre-season form and overcame a tardy start to blitz Collingwood by 70 points points at Etihad Stadium last night.
Ross Lyon knows how to prepare a team for round one.
The Dockers had lost two of their three pre-season matches – both to West Coast and had been workmanlike at best in their one win over the Western Bulldogs.
But Lyon, who has now won round one clashes in seven of eight seasons as an AFL coach, brought his team to the boil after quarter time at Etihad Stadium to pile on 11 unanswered goals and end the match as a contest. Fremantle won 17.14 (116) to 5.16 (46).
The Magpies were kept goalless for two quarters and by three quarter time, with his team nursing a 63-point lead and the game in safe keeping, Lyon had seen enough to rest playmaker Nathan Fyfe from the last term, subbing him off to give Lachie Neale game time.
Fyfe had overcome a sluggish start to be the most influential player on the ground to three quarter time, gathering 15 of 20 possessions in contests, nien of them at stoppages.
With Luke McPharlin keeping Travis Cloke quiet and Collingwood wasting many of the opportunities they managed to generate, the game tipped Fremantle’s way quickly and decisively after the quarter time break.
The Dockers were stingy as usual in defence but they also show-cased a new willingness to attack, opening up the Magpies zone with coast to coast goals on a number of occasions.
Fyfe drew strong support midfield from Stephen Hill, Danyle Pearce who kicked two goals and Michael Barlow, while Michael Johnson’s superb judgment made sure Cloke didn’t get many chances one on one against McPharlin.
Collingwood had sat Fremantle back on their haunches in the opening quarter by playing the game at an intensity that was two steps up from anything the Dockers had seen – even from West Coast – in the pre-season.
Tackles were not missed, not even by towering ruckman Jarrod Witts who pulled Lee Spurr down for the turnover that created Scott Pendlebury’s first goal, and opportunities to attack were not passed over which meant the Magpies took field territory away from Fremantle quickly and kept them from charging at their defence as we had grown accustomed to seeing from them late last year.
But opportunities to score were missed – by both teams but by Collingwood in particular, whose 2.4 for the quarter left them shy of where Nathan Buckley would have liked them on the scoreboard. The Magpies had a toe-hold, but not a stranglehold.
And when Fremantle lifted their intensity to match and surpass that of Collingwood’s in the second quarter Collingwood’s lack of a buffer on the scoreboard was costly.
The Dockers piled on six unanswered second quarter goals as the Magpies continued to squander opportunities.
Fyfe, kept to just three touches before quarter time, sprang to life in the second term with 11 touches and kicked a goal. Hill was left to his own devices and the silky left footer lit up Etihad Stadium with 14 first half touches, five inside 50s and a goal.
Collingwood’s ball winners had been prolific, but their scoreboard result for it was negligible.
Dayne Beams had 21 first half touches, Pendlebury 15, Luke Ball 13 and Dane Swan 12. With no Ben Reid in the team to draw some of Fremantle’s defensive heat from Travis Cloke, the Dockers defenders swarmed all over the Magpie power forward. One on one marking opportunities inside Collingwood’s attack became rare. Goals became rarer.
Fremantle went to half time nursing a 35-point lead. Buckley went to half-time nursing a giant headache. His team had won clearances convincingly, halved contested possession and were around the mark for entries inside attacking fifty but they were getting hammered on the scoreboard.
And if they wanted respite in the third quarter they didn’t get it.
Fremantle piled on the pain and kicked the first five goals of the term to blow the lead to 63 point and eliminate any threat the magpies might have posed.
When Brent Macaffer kicked Collingwood’s third goal at the 21 minute mark of the quarter it was his team’s first goal in two quarter of football.
|GOALS - FREMANTLE: H Ballantyne 3; R Crowley, D Mundy, M Walters, D Pearce 2; N Fyfe, S Hill, T Mzungu, M Barlow, M Pavlich, T Sheridan. COLLINGWOOD: S Pendlebury, D Swan, B Macaffer, J Elliott, C Young.|
BEST - FREMANTLE: N Fyfe, M Johnson, S Hill, D Pearce, H Ballantyne, A Sandilands, L McPharlin. COLLINGWOOD: D Beams, S Pendlebury, D Swan, T Langdon, B Grundy.