FREMANTLE has snatched a remarkable five-point victory from the jaws of defeat against North Melbourne, with recruit Shane Kersten stepping up to be the hero by booting the match-winning goal in the final minute on Saturday night.
In a stunning fightback from 29 points down early in the third quarter, the Dockers overran the tiring visitors at Domain Stadium to consign Brad Scott's winless side to a 0-5 record – the Roos' worst start in 45 years.
The 9.13 (67) to 9.8 (62) triumph continued the Dockers' resurgence, lifting them to a 3-2 record and back into the finals mix after back-to-back victories over the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and now Roos.
It was the second-straight week Freo has survived in a last-gasp contest, after Cam McCarthy's toe poke clinched a nail-biter against the Demons, with coach Ross Lyon pleased by the Dockers' grit.
"I think you build trust in your teammate that the bloke next to you is going to keep digging away and digging in for you and isn’t going to flick the bails – that's how you get momentum," Lyon said post-match.
"Eventually things turn your way."
Seemingly dead and buried when late inclusion Nathan Hrovat snapped a brilliant major in the last quarter to extend North's lead to eight points, the Dockers refused to give in and delivered a famous win.
Key defender Michael Johnson reduced the margin to a point at the 28-minute mark, before former Cats forward Kersten snapped a stunning major over his shoulder to send the 33,319-strong crowd into raptures.
The Roos surged the ball forward but Freo held on.
It will be a bitter pill to swallow for North, who have now blown sizeable third-quarter leads against Geelong, the Dogs and Dockers to remain winless.
The visitors will be ropeable after holding sway for long swathes of the contest, having hit back after Freo booted the first two goals with seven unanswered majors.
Fremantle went goalless from the 13-minute mark of the first quarter until 14 minutes into the third term when top draftee Griffin Logue got his wonky radar working and kicked his first AFL goal.
The Dockers closed to within 15 points at the final change and had enough run in their legs to snatch the win.
There were heroes on both sides in the dying stages.
Feisty Dockers forward Brady Grey threaded the eye of the needle to close the margin to a point, before Hrovat answered with a classy snap.
When fellow recruit Marley Williams charged down Ed Langdon as he ran into an open goal it appeared the Roos would hold on.
Earlier, Fremantle started full of momentum, booting the opening two goals and getting on top around the clearances (12-6) in the first term thanks to Aaron Sandilands' dominance.
North turned the screws in the second stanza, with a ferocious lift in intensity around the ball.
The Roos won contested ball 40-24 for the quarter, and capitalised on the scoreboard with four unanswered majors.
North's confidence was growing – highlighted by talented but injury-prone forward Taylor Garner launching himself onto Garrick's Ibbotson's shoulders and hanging on to a bonafide mark of the year contender.
Ibbotson was involved again moments later when he was collected by North skipper Jack Ziebell, who hurt his right knee and needed treatment on the sidelines before soldiering on.
Both sides suffered late injury concerns, with Freo star Stephen Hill coming off with hamstring tightness in the final term, before Todd Goldstein was helped from the field with a right ankle problem.
Goldstein was beaten convincingly in the hit-outs (55-21) by Sandilands, and Freo dominated the clearances 17-6 in the frenetic final quarter with their stars around the ball.
Nat Fyfe (26 disposals), David Mundy (30) and Stephen Hill (26) were outstanding when it counted most, while Lachie Weller backed up an excellent display last week with another 26 touches.
Ed Langdon was lively and the game's only multiple goalkicker with two majors.
North bull Ben Cunnington won 10 clearances ad 29 disposals in a battling effort, while Jamie Macmillan (26), Williams (24) and Trent Dumont (24) found plenty of the ball and Luke McDonald looked dangerous in a new role up forward.
Despite his side's meritorious effort, frustated North coach Brad Scott lamented the Roos' inability to close out games.
They have conceded at least five goals in every final quarter this season.
"In a couple of games this year the opposition's really good players have got going in the last quarter when it really matters and we haven't been able to respond to that," he said.
"It's getting frustrating."
Fremantle: Stephen Hill came from the ground with hamstring tightness in the final term and the Dockers are unsure of the severity. He will be scanned, but there's hope he might be right for the Western Derby.
North Melbourne: The Roos are confident Goldstein (ankle), Ziebell (knee) and Ben Brown – who had a half-time fitness test on his knee – will be fit to face the Suns next Saturday.
The Dockers will enjoy an extra day's recovery before fronting up for a mammoth Western Derby against West Coast next Saturday night, while the Roos will have to lick their wounds and regroup before a winnable contest against Gold Coast the same evening.
FREMANTLE 2.3 2.6 4.10 9.13 (67)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.3 6.5 7.7 9.8 (62)
Fremantle: Langdon 2, McCarthy, Logue, Crozier, B. Hill, Grey, Johnson, Kersten
North Melbourne: Turner, Wood, Cunnington, Simpkin, Atley, Goldstein, Dumont, Brown, Hrovat
Fremantle: Mundy, Johnson, Fyfe, Sandilands, S. Hill, Hamling, Grey
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Williams, Dumont, Macmillan, Tarrant
Fremantle: S. Hill (hamstring)
North Melbourne: Goldstein (ankle), Shaun Higgins (hamstring tightness) replaced in selected side by Nathan Hrovat
Umpires: Harris, McInerney, Mollison
Official crowd: 33,319
A picture says a thousand words ... Picture: AFL Photos