Matthew Pavlich celebrated his 300th game with a win
FREMANTLE has continued its recent domination of Geelong, celebrating captain Matthew Pavlich's 300th game in style by beating the Cats by 32 points at Patersons Stadium last night.
Pavlich kicked three goals as the home side never looked like surrendering the lead after booting the opening five goals of the game, going on to win 13.18 (96) to 9.10 (64).
It took just 26 seconds for the purple haze to get what they wanted, a Pavlich mark. And within the opening minute the Freo chant had already started after the skipper slotted the resultant set shot from deep in the forward pocket at the city end.
It even raised the spirits of dour coach Ross Lyon
, who said: "I don't believe in omens but if you did that is not a bad one to start a game; out of the middle and hit him on the chest … shot from an acute angle."
It was clear the Dockers were on, back to their frenzied, swarming best from last September when they also disposed of Geelong in a qualifying final at Simonds Stadium. They kept the Cats goalless in the first term and led by 30 points at the first change. It proved to be a decisive break.
"It felt pretty close to our best footy of the year," Pavlich said.
Geelong wasn't that bad in the opening stanza. Jimmy Bartel missed two 'sodas' and two of the Dockers' goals came from marginal free kicks in front of the baying home crowd.
But the numbers didn't lie, Freo smashed the Cats in clearances (13-5), contested possessions (43-27) and overall possessions (110–84). Fremantle's ball use was also vastly superior.
By the end of the match Freo had 42 more contested possessions and that, both coaches agreed, told the story.
"We just weren't good enough, it's not just the numbers, the crucial contests they won and smashed us around the ball and in clearances," Scott said.
"It's hard to play the game on your terms when the ball is always going the other way."
After the frenetic start, the Cats gathered their breath at quarter time and came out with a bit more composure. They booted the first two goals of the second but it was to prove a false dawn.
After a 10-minute arm wrestle, Hayden Ballantyne added to his highlights reel with a darting, teasing run around Jared Rivers that left the Cats defender embarrassed and the Dockers with another goal on the board.
By half-time, after all that effort, Geelong was still five goals down, having thrown their best counterpunch. Some of the Cats' turnovers in the shadows of the long break smacked of a side on the ropes.
However the proud Cats found something, at least at the start of the third term, holding possession better and slotting the opening two goals of the half.
It took an unlucky call and another Ballantyne special to break the Cats for good. Paul Duffield waltzed into an open goal after Rivers was accosted front-on by Zac Clarke as he waited under a mark at centre half-back, then the Freo goalsneak slotted his second fine running goal from the boundary to burst Geelong's hopes.
When Ballantyne added his third, after literally pulling down James Kelly's pants after he was hastily called to play on, it ensured the margin remained beyond five goals at the last change – a very big ask against Freo in Perth.
There were moments of Cats magic on the run home but Freo always had the answers.
Freo's engine room was again at the forefront of the effort, David Mundy and Michael Barlow proving the grunt work to release the dynamic Stephen Hill.
Geelong's skipper Joel Selwood was the outstanding player on the ground, while George Horlin-Smith took another step forward and Kelly fought hard against adversity all night.
Hayden Ballantyne was at his influential best. Picture: AFL Media
FREMANTLE 5.3 7.11 10.15 13.18 (96)
GEELONG 0.3 3.5 6.7 9.10 (64)
Fremantle: Pavlich 3, Ballantyne 3, Mzungu 2, Fyfe, Duffield, Barlow, Sheridan, Pearce
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Varcoe 2, Horlin-Smith, Bartel, Murdoch, Motlop
Fremantle: Mundy, Hill, Barlow, Mzungu, Crowley, Fyfe
Geelong: Selwood, Horlin-Smith, Kelly, Guthrie, Mackie, Enright
Fremantle: Matt de Boer replaced Alex Silvagni during the third quarter
Geelong: Jackson Sheringham replaced Dawson Simpson during the third quarter
Umpires: Donlon, Dalgleish, Chamberlain
Official crowd: 38,565 at Patersons Stadium