analysis

Fremantle Dockers hold on to win thriller against Port Adelaide by eight points in game full of highlights

Headshot of Braden Quartermaine
Braden QuartermaineThe West Australian
CommentsComments
High five: Rory Lobb kicked a bag as Fremantle held on to beat Port Adelaide.
Camera IconHigh five: Rory Lobb kicked a bag as Fremantle held on to beat Port Adelaide. Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

It started and ended unconvincingly, but what came in between was excellent from Fremantle and ultimately enough to get them over the line in a classic.

Port Adelaide forwards Robbie Gray and Todd Marshall were left to lament their set-shot misses in the dying stages, as the Dockers scrambled home by eight points, 15.9 (99) to 14.7 (91) at Optus Stadium on Sunday.

Trailing by 40 points late in the third quarter, the Power threatened an extraordinary comeback on the back of veteran Charlie Dixon’s late heroics.

While Fremantle would have preferred a more assured final term after Port Adelaide had eight scoring shots to two, it was ultimately a case of centre-square submission to domination for the Dockers after they rebounded from their mauling at the hands of Carlton last weekend.

And they did it without captain Nat Fyfe.

The Dockers returned to their on-ball formula from earlier in the season as Fyfe played as a full-time forward, not required at a single centre bounce.

With Sean Darcy and Rory Lobb - who starred with five goals - dominant against makeshift Power ruck pair Jeremy Finlayson and Dixon, Fremantle owned the centre clearance battle 20-10 and dominated overall clearances 48-30.

The tussle featured outstanding Mark of the Year contenders from Fremantle defender Hayden Young and Port Adelaide forward Mitch Georgiades, as well as jaw-dropping goals from the boundary line from Caleb Serong and Dixon.

VideoHayden Young reels in incredible mark against Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium.

WA youngster Georgiades gave 100-gamer Luke Ryan the early run around as the Power got the first three goals of the game, before the Dockers quickly lifted around the ball.

Fremantle kicked eight of the next nine goals and led by 25 points at the major break and 34 points at three-quarter time.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Mitch Georgiades of the Power flies for a mark during the 2022 AFL Round 16 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Port Adelaide Power at Optus Stadium on July 03, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Camera IconWA product Mitch Georgiades took a mark to rival Hayden Young’s. Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Port looked like they were beaten but didn’t know it. With Dixon the spark as the visitors surged home, only for Gray to kick his shot out on the full with 2min37sec on the clock.

Port, now destined to miss the finals, had another chance to draw to within a goal when Marshall kicked a behind with 1min28 sec remaining.

Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines had a game-high 39 touches for the Power.

We’re good thanks, Jacko

Well what a juicy little twist this was in Fremantle’s pursuit of Melbourne premiership star Luke Jackson.

Rory Lobb’s career-high five-goal game comes with the big man widely expected to again request a trade away from the Dockers, with the club trying to line up Jackson to replace him in the forward/ruck role.

Lobb, 29, has now kicked 27 majors in 14 games in his best season in purple and whatever happens, his strong form is good news for Fremantle.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Rory Lobb of the Dockers sings the team song after the win during the 2022 AFL Round 16 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Port Adelaide Power at Optus Stadium on July 03, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Camera IconFremantle will be even more keen to keep Rory Lobb after he kicked five goals in their win. Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

The better he plays, the more competitive tension there could be for his services and the Dockers could end up netting a nice draft pick which could be part of the Jackson package.

It’s just hard to understand why Lobb would want to leave when he’s playing well, is paid well and is a crucial cog in a team that looks to be on the cusp of doing something special over the next few years.

Nat not required

For so long used to having to carry the team, Fyfe is now fitting into it.

In his third game back following long-term shoulder and back issues, Fyfe was not used at a single centre bounce as he returned to the half-forward role where he began his career.

The million-dollar man even came up to stoppages at times to help block for new star Andrew Brayshaw.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Nat Fyfe of the Dockers looks to break from a tackle by Sam Powell-Pepper of the Power during the round 16 AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Port Adelaide Power at Optus Stadium on July 03, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Camera IconNat Fyfe only made rare appearances in the midfield. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The sight was confirmation of the baton change – the dual Brownlow medallist trying to keep Port Adelaide tagger Willem Drew away from Brayshaw, the young gun who could become Fremantle’s second Brownlow winner in September.

Fyfe had decent stints on the bench but was a strong contributor with 21 touches and a second-quarter goal.

Young talent time

Fremantle have had two Mark of the Year winners in their history, with Tony Modra’s effort in 2000 followed up by Luke McPharlin’s famous 2005 grab.

Defender Hayden Young lodged a strong nomination to make it a third in 2022, after he soared onto and above the shoulders of Port Adelaide’s Lachie Jones in the second quarter.

Springing off his right foot, Young had eyes for the ball all the way and made first contact with his arms outstretched.

Hayden Young rises for a spectacular mark. Picture: Tom Fee / Fremantle FC
Camera IconThis Hayden Young grab is likely to feature on Brownlow Medal night. Credit: Tom Fee / Fremantle FC/Tom Fee / Fremantle FC

The 21-year-old juggled the ball on the way down but never let it spill, suffering no serious injury despite landing at an awkward angle on his head and back.

Remarkably, either Young or Georgiades won’t even take out the mark of the round.

Also in the second term, reigning Goal of the Year holder Serong decided he would lodge a nomination for this year, nailing a left-footed drop punt from deep in the pocket.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails