Luckless Docker Anthony Morabito made a strong case for a heroic return to AFL level, but he couldn’t stop East Fremantle from recording a third straight win and cementing their place inside the top four at East Fremantle Oval today.
The Sharks were challenged several times in their 15.10 (100) to 11.9 (75) over Peel, but had all the answers as they finished full of running to record their sixth win of the season.
It was a brave effort from the home side who were playing just five days after their win over South Fremantle in a bruising Foundation Day derby.
Peel, playing for the first time since May 17, were looking for a second successive win after going winless through the first eight rounds and had the best possible chance with 13 Fremantle-listed players lining up for them.
However they couldn’t maintain the outstanding form they showed in the opening term, despite the best efforts of Morabito, who was outstanding.
Playing mainly off a wing, Morabito roamed freely and did plenty of damage with three goals, 28 disposals and 10 inside 50s.
Fremantle recruit Scott Gumbleton had a successful return to football after more than three months out with a hamstring injury.
The big man was particularly lively early and finished his day with seven marks and 1.1 with his game time being managed.
East Fremantle captain Mark McGough led the way in the room, while Brock O’Brien was a strong contributor in the back half.
Youngster Cameron Eardley also put in a lively display with 27 touches and a goal in just his 10th game of league football.
Peel didn’t take any time to find touch after a fortnight without football, jumping the Sharks to kick the first two goals and barely allowing the ball past the halfway mark.
Clancee Pearce had the ball on a string, while the skills of Morabito and Hayden Crozier were on show as the smooth-moving Fremantle pair both hit the scoreboard.
The contested marking prowess of Gumbleton, Michael Apeness and Matt Taberner was troubling an undersized Sharks defence, and Peel should have been further in front than the 19-point advantage they had at the first break.
The second term started much the same as the first, with the Thunder dominating the early minutes.
When Apeness handballed to Morabito in front of goal, the strongly-built Docker popped through his second and put the visitors up by 25 points.
But East Fremantle made it an arm wrestle from there, restricting the free-flowing movement of Peel and scrapping to hit the scoreboard up the other end.
Sam Menegola took a strong mark in front of goal late in the term but was forced off the ground with the blood rule allowing Thornton to take the kick and miss a regulation goal.
The home side then whipped the ball down to Brett Peake and his second major left the Sharks only seven points off the pace at the long break.
A brilliant effort from Eardley in the first minute of the third quarter saw East Fremantle down by just a point but.
The visitors hit back with the next three goals and looked to be taking the game away from the Sharks.
But East Fremantle would not be denied, dominating play for the remainder of the quarter to take the lead for the first time and then take a seven-point advantage at the final change.
Colin Sylvia bobbed up early in the last term and looked like he could be the match winner when he snapped consecutive goals to give Peel the lead back.
But as they had all day, the Sharks again responded, booting five unanswered goals to take the comfortable 25-point win.
Bradd Dalziell was a late withdrawal from the East Fremantle team because of gastro.
|GOALS - EAST FREMANTLE: Lester-Smith, Peake, Schofield 3; Perham 2; R O’Brien, Eardley, Young. PEEL: Morabito 3, Crozier, Sylvia 2; Taberner, Apeness, Gumbleton, Thornton.|
BEST - EAST FREMANTLE: McGough, Eardley, B O’Brien, R O’Brien, Schofield. PEEL: Morabito, Crozier, Sylvia, C Pearce.