A goal to midfielder Lachie Neale in the final minute of the game has helped Fremantle escape with a five-point win over Carlton in an entertaining game at Patersons Stadium tonight.
The Blues had controlled most of the contest before the class of Dockers star Nat Fyfe rose to the fore in the final term, lifting his side to within touching distance of a win after trailing at three-quarter time.
It took a cool set shot from Neale, courtesy of a Cameron Wood turnover, for the Dockers to record their 12.11 (83) to 11.12 (78) win.
Fyfe finished with 28 disposals, two goals and 13 clearances in a monumental performance, while Chris Judd was back to his brilliant best for the Blues with 22 touches and nine clearances.
However there was bad news as well for Fremantle, who will face an anxious wait over the fitness of Matthew Pavlich (concussion) and Tendai Mzungu (thigh).
Playing in possibly his last game at Patersons Stadium, Judd wound back the clock in the early stages of the game, clearing the ball from congestion at will with a burst of speed not seen from the dual Brownlow medallist in years.
It was Judd’s efforts which allowed the Blues to control plenty of ball early, but they were hurt by defensive lapses as Dockers defender Lee Spurr found space forward to kick the opening goal.
Judd kicked his side’s first when he outmuscled Spurr in a marking contest moments later. If that was a reminder of how good Judd once was, Nat Fyfe taking an identical mark and kicking a goal at the other end was a reminder of just how good he could still be.
Fyfe’s goal gave the Dockers plenty of momentum and when he kicked his second ten minutes later the home side was 18 points in front.
A freak goal from Marc Murphy, who was wearing a Ryan Crowley tag and appeared to be very unhappy about the situation, and a long, straight set shot from Jarrad Waite brought the margin back to 5 points at the first break.
Carlton missed gettable shots on goal early in the second quarter through Judd and Bryce Gibbs and had the game largely on their terms.
However another oversight allowed Freo to work the ball down the field and put David Mundy in a position to kick a goal from a 45 metre set shot – it would prove to be the only goal in a dour quarter of football.
A stray shoulder to Pavlich’s face saw him subbed off at half-time with the Dockers 11 points in front.
With Tendai Mzungu also unable to come on in the third quarter because of a thigh injury, the Dockers were lacking run and the Blues were making the most of it.
Kade Simpson lifted to help Carlton control possession, switch the ball and hit their spots, allowing them to swiftly overtake the Dockers with goals to Levi Casboult and Nick Graham, then blow the lead out to two goals through Waite and Sam Rowe.
But for all their good work, the Blues could do little but watch in the dying stages of the term as some lucky scrubber kicks resulted in goals to Crowley and Michael Barlow, brining the margin down to four points at the final break.
Hayden Ballantyne lifted after a slow start to the game to give his side spark in the final term, kicking two last-quarter goals to give them a sniff.
Fyfe, too, lifted his game to hand a crucial major to Michael Barlow and put the Dockers in front late.
Another goal to Waite courtesy of a 50 metre penalty against Zac Dawson put the Blues two points in front with under five minutes remaining.
It took a cool head from Lachie Neale to convert at the death and keep the Dockers in the top four hunt.
FREMANTLE | 5.1 | 6.5| 8.7 |12.11 | 83
CARLTON |4.2 | 4.6 | 8.11 |11.12| 78
GOALS – FREMANTLE: Ballantyne 3; Barlow, Fyfe 2; Spurr, Hill, Mundy, Crowley
CARLTON: Waite 3; Murphy 2; Judd, Ellard, Casboult, Rowe, Graham, Simpson
BEST – FREMANTLE: Fyfe, Barlow, Sandilands, Ballantyne, Neale.
CARLTON: Simpson, Thomas, Judd, Murphy, Yarran.
INJURIES - FREMANTLE: Pavlich (concussion), Mzungu (thigh).
CARLTON: Judd (ankle)
UMPIRES: L Fisher, J Dalgleish, M Stevic.
CROWD: 35,401 at Patersons Stadium.