Fremantle have suffered just their second home loss in the past two seasons as North Melbourne shot back onto the winners list with a 13-point victory at Patersons Stadium tonight.
The Dockers led by as much as 26 points after a blistering first quarter but the Kangaroos, led by former St Kilda star Nick Dal Santo, adjusted their game after the first break, first taking the lead then denying the home side any avenues to goal.
The 10.14 (74) to 8.13 (61) win takes North Melbourne’s record to 4-2 this season and showed the team has learnt how to hold off an opposition attack late in the game.
For Fremantle, the loss was their first at Patersons Stadium since a round three against Essendon last year. Their record has slipped to 3-3 in a frustrating start to the season
Dal Santo was sublime for the Kangaroos, showing the poise he was recruited for with his 28 disposals and six clearances. Brent Harvey (29 disposals), Sam Gibson (31 disposals, two goals) and Lachie Hansen were also important.
Nat Fyfe again gave his club good service with 33 disposals and two goals, but too few stood up to give him the support he needed on a sloppy night for the home side.
The game was red-hot from the opening bounce, with clean possession proving difficult to find.
As expected, Ryan Crowley went straight to Harvey, who accused the Freo tagger of pinching him “about 300 times” the last time the two clubs met, but the North veteran had the better of the early action.
The Dockers pinched the first goal of the game when Lachie Neale pounced on the loose ball after Matthew Pavlich’s attempt was smothered.
But Pavlich wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the scoreboard, taking a set shot from 10 metres out after some fancy footwork from Paul Duffield near the boundary saw the defender shrug off three opponents and deliver to his skipper.
Lyon’s calls for more free kicks during the week paid off when Aaron Sandilands was gifted a goal from the umpires, but it would come back to haunt the Dockers coach as the term went on.
A rushed snap by Nat Fyfe gave the home side a 26-point lead before the Kangaroos began to come into the game.
With three free kicks inside 50 leading to three shots on goal and a soft 50 metre penalty paid to 250-gamer Drew Petrie, the visitors were able to peg the deficit back to just two goals at the quarter-time break.
The quick-draw whistles continued in the second term before the ball had even been bounce as Freo started things off with a free kick in the middle of the ground.
The resulting forward 50 failed to convert into a scoring shot, but the Kangaroos were able to get one of their own on the rebound as Majak Daw brought the margin back to a single goal.
Both sides were fumbling the ball despite the conditions, which appeared perfect, and while the Dockers were better around the stoppages it was the Kangaroos who were able to make more of their opportunities inside 50.
It was goal for goal for much of the quarter, with little change to the margin as the Dockers went into half-time eight points ahead.
However it was a lead which could have been far more comfortable if not for Pavlich and Nick Suban missing easy set shots in the last five minutes of the quarter.
Space opened up in the third quarter as players on both teams began to tire.
The momentum was all with North in the opening five minutes, with Dal Santo kicking a goal to even the scores at the eight minute mark.
Two moments of brilliance from Pavlich put the Dockers ahead again, but the Kangaroos refused to go away, and brought the margin back to just three points after a long running goal from Aaron Mullett.
Sam Gibson pinched the lead for the visitors at the three minute mark of the final quarter. When Petrie followed up with a long set shot for goal the lead was 10 points in their favour.
|GOALS - NORTH MELBOURNE: Gibson, Petrie 2; Dal Santo, Mullett, Nahas, Black, Daw, Thomas. FREMANTLE: Pavlich, Fyfe 2; Mundy, Neale, Mayne, Sandilands,|
BEST - NORTH MELBOURNE: Dal Santo, Gibson, Harvey, Firrito, Grima, Cunnington. FREMANTLE: Fyfe, McPharlin, Mundy, Johnson.