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Dockers pinch gripping win over Carlton to revive faltering flag hopes

Highlights: Fremantle v Carlton The Dockers and Blues clash in round 19
Lee Spurr and Lachie Neale of the Fremantle Dockers celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL Round 19 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Carlton Blues at Patersons Stadium, Perth on July 31, 2014. (Photo: Daniel Carson/AFL Media)
Lachie Neale celebrates kicking the winning goal on Thursday night
FREMANTLE has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with an extraordinary five-point win over Carlton on Thursday night, but the Dockers’ premiership credentials appear on shaky ground.
 
The Blues led for the majority of the second half and looked the winners in the dying minutes. But a panicked Cameron Wood kick from the last line of defence in the final minute landed in the arms of Lachie Neale.

 
Neale calmly slotted the winner and the Dockers hung on in the last 30 seconds to win 12.11 (83) to 11.12 (78) in front of 35,401 at Patersons Stadium.

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was relieved to escape with the win but admitted his side is struggling for form.
 
"I thought the players showed enormous fight at the end." Lyon said.
 
"We found a way. Clearly we've got plenty of work to do. We need to improve."
 
The Blues will be kicking themselves for yet another opportunity missed. It is the fifth time this season the Blues have lost by fewer than 12 points. They led from the five-minute mark in the third term until the 22-minute mark of the last quarter when Michael Barlow ran into an open goal.
 
The Blues reclaimed the lead with two minutes to go when Zac Dawson gave away a 50m penalty to hand Jarrad Waite his third goal.
 
Garrick Ibbotson had a chance to put the Dockers in front but missed and it seemed like the Dockers' top-four hopes were in tatters until Wood's kick found Neale.

"They were a better side," Carlton coach Mick Malthouse said post-match.
 
"They made fewer mistakes."

 
The hero for the Dockers was Nat Fyfe. He had 11 touches in the last quarter to finish with 28 disposals, 21 contested, 13 clearances and two goals. 

Hayden Ballantyne kicked three vital goals in his return from suspension. 

The Dockers were brave given they lost their skipper Matthew Pavlich to concussion early in the second quarter after being hit with a stray elbow while tackling Nick Graham. 

Fremantle was also down a rotation after a thigh injury to Tendai Mzungu that consigned him to the bench for most of the second half.

The Blues deserved to win the game on the back of their dominance in the midfield. Kade Simpson was sensational with 23 touches, and a brilliant goal late. Dale Thomas had 29 disposals and Chris Judd was back to his vintage best with 22 disposals, 15 contested, nine clearances and kicked a goal. 

The dual Brownlow medallist also played most of the second half with a damaged ankle.

"(It was a) great effort, fantastic effort," Malthouse said.
 
"I don't know the extent of the injury but he was fantastic."

The Blues conceded the lead in an entertaining first term, which featured two brilliant marks and goals from Fyfe and a stunning checkside finish from Marc Murphy, who finished with 22 touches and 2.3 up against the tag of Ryan Crowley.
 
The Blues dominated the second quarter but butchered chances to concede an 11-point half-time lead but took control in the third term with four straight goals.

Fremantle now holds its spot in fourth after last week’s shock loss to St Kilda, but if Port Adelaide beats Collingwood on Sunday, the Dockers may drop out again.

Carlton sits 13th and is left with yet another bitter taste in its mouth after another close-run finish. 

Dale Thomas lets off a handball under pressure on Thursday night. Picture: AFL Media. 


FREMANTLE      5.1   6.5    8.7    12.11   (83)                  
CARLTON           4.2   4.6   8.11   11.12   (78)          
 
GOALS
Fremantle: Ballantyne 3, Fyfe 2, Barlow 2, Spurr, Mundy, Crowley, Hill, Neale
Carlton: Waite 3, Murphy 2, Judd, Simpson, Ellard, Graham, Casboult, Rowe
 
BEST 
Fremantle: Fyfe, Barlow, Mundy, Sandilands, Clarke
Carlton: Simpson, Yarran, Judd, Ellard, Thomas, Murphy, Waite
 
INJURIES 
Fremantle: Pavlich (concussion), Mzungu (thigh)
Carlton: Nil
 
SUBSTITUTES
Fremantle: Matt de Boer replaced Matthew Pavlich during the second quarter
Carlton: Brock McLean replaced Blaine Johnson during the final quarter
 
Reports: Nil
 
Umpires: Fisher, Dalgleish, Stevic
 
Official crowd: 35,401 at Patersons Stadium