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Match report: Freo flies up to fifth after taking down Blues

Highlights: Fremantle v Carlton The Dockers and the Blues clash in round 9
Michael Walters celebrates a goal

REBORN Fremantle has surged into the top eight after prevailing over an undermanned but dogged Carlton by 35 points in wet and slippery conditions at Domain Stadium. 

As inconceivable as it seemed after a disastrous 0-2 start to the season, Ross Lyon's more youthful and resilient outfit has climbed off the canvas to suddenly sit fifth on the ladder.

Incredibly, the Dockers' percentage is just 90.7 – the fifth-worst in the competition – but they once again found a way to win in Sunday's scrappy 13.8 (86) to 7.9 (51) triumph. 

Full match coverage and stats

Fremantle's sixth victory from seven games was another comeback special, this time from 28-0 down in the first quarter.

Freo was dragged back into the contest by ball magnet Lachie Neale (37 disposals, one goal) and giant ruckman Aaron Sandilands' influence at stoppages, but it was Michael Walters' magic that broke the Blues' resistance.

Walters ended his four-game goal drought early in the third quarter when he put the Dockers ahead for the first time and ignited a five-goal-to-one term. 

WATCH: Walters' wonderful term turns the tide

The star small forward, thrown back into attack following Stephen Hill's subdued return from injury, then added a near carbon copy goal and rolled through an instinctive third major as Freo surged to a 22-point lead at the final change.

Carlton, without Sam Rowe (knee) and Dale Thomas (blurred vision), refused to go away but didn't have the manpower or firepower to muster a serious fightback.  

Five talking points: Fremantle v Carlton

However, the Blues deserve credit for another competitive showing coming off wins over Sydney and Collingwood, plus a spirited loss to St Kilda last round, and they landed first-quarter body blows on Fremantle.

In driving rain, Brendon Bolton's men executed his precision-kicking gameplan (78-37) to perfection, and alarm bells were ringing when Thomas' miraculous banana and Marc Murphy's snap as he was tackled to the ground both sailed through.

 

Bronx cheers greeted Fremantle's first inside 50 at the 18-minute mark, but Bradley Hill's running goal gave the Dockers some impetus and they got to work at the coalface as the rain eased in the second stanza. 

The Dockers dominated contested ball (45-25) and clearances (13-3) on the back of Sandilands' efforts, booting four goals to Carlton's one to only trail by two points at the long break in a strong response.

"It was really pleasing. We were disappointed with our first quarter – it was the last thing we expected – we thought we'd planned and prepared, but to Carlton's credit they jumped out of the blocks," Lyon said.

"We adjusted accordingly at quarter-time and I thought from there we played very well and they persisted and fought (it) out."

Crows clash no litmus test for Freo: Lyon

Neale ran rampant in custom-made conditions and tagger Connor Blakely (33) was prolific again in an even battle with Murphy (32, one goal).

An equal career-best three goals from Hayden Crozier – two in the second-quarter surge – were telling, while usual suspects Nat Fyfe (30 dispsoals) and David Mundy (28) gave their all to secure another victory. 

Carlton's vaunted engine room – led by Bryce Gibbs (34), Ed Curnow (31) and Matthew Kreuzer (22, 26 hit-outs – fought hard but the Blues struggled to find an avenue to score, with Levi Casboult (two) the only multiple goalkicker.

"It was a game where it was difficult to score (in) wet conditions like that," coach Brendon Bolton said.

"Probably some of our entries we can have a look at as to why - we probably tried to bite too much off - but that's about playing to the conditions."

With a clash against North Melbourne to come, the Blues will be sweating on the fitness of Rowe after Fyfe came across his kicking leg attempting a smother in the early exchanges.

The big defender tried to return late in the opening term with his knee strapped but his legs buckled in a marking contest and he played no further part, while Thomas missed most of the second half after colliding with former Docker Alex Silvagni. 

MEDICAL ROOM
Fremantle:
The Dockers appear to have emerged unscathed.

Carlton:
The Blues are uncertain about the extent of Sam Rowe's knee injury and he will have scans in the coming days. Dale Thomas was concussed and battled blurred vision and will be monitored ahead of a clash with the Kangaroos.

NEXT UP
The Dockers are on the road for a genuine test of their finals credentials against League leaders Adelaide, while the Blues will take on North Melbourne after the Roos breathed life back into their campaign with a win over Melbourne.

FREMANTLE     1.2     5.4    10.7   13.8 (86)                  
CARLTON         4.4     5.6     6.9     7.9 (51)           

GOALS
Fremantle: Walters 3, Crozier 3, Kersten 2, B.Hill 2, Neale, McCarthy, Taberner
Carlton: Casboult 2, Fisher, Thomas, Murphy, Gibbs, Docherty

BEST 
Fremantle: Neale, Blakely, Johnson, Weller, Walters, Crozier, Sandilands
Carlton: Docherty, Murphy, Gibbs, A.Silvagni, Curnow, Cripps

INJURIES 
Fremantle: Nil
Carlton: Sam Rowe (knee), Dale Thomas (concussion)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Foot, Dalgleish, Chamberlain

Official crowd: 30,313 at Domain Stadium