FREMANTLE shook off the loss of six players to health and safety protocols to extend its winning run to six games and move into top spot for the time being with a 78-point win over North Melbourne.
The Dockers were far too good for the struggling Kangaroos, pulling away with a five-goal opening term and were never threatened, winning 15.12 (102) to 3.6 (24) at Optus Stadium on Friday night.
DOCKERS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
The result condemns North to six straight losses, languishing in second-last with a 1-7 record having lost by margins of 78, 50, 60 and 68 points over the past four weeks. Their only win in 2022 came against a heavily depleted West Coast in round two.
Cameron Zurhaar's last-quarter goal ensured North avoided the ignominy of their second-lowest score in club history, as the Dockers' stingy defence struck again.
Fremantle dominated the disposal count 406-304 with 266-176 uncontested possessions, leading to a lopsided tally of 67-32 inside 50s, with North not helped by an ordinary 66.4 per cent disposal efficiency.
Debutant Jye Amiss goaled with his first kick in a game of few highlights, where Andy Brayshaw was outstanding again with 34 disposals including 10 clearances and seven tackles.
Off-season recruit Will Brodie gave Fremantle drive out of the middle, finishing with a game-high 37 disposals, while Sean Darcy was excellent in the ruck and around the ground on his return from concussion.
North had few winners with Luke McDonald having 26 disposals and Tarryn Thomas re-discovering some form with 18 disposals, while No.1 pick Jason Horne-Francis tried hard, with his team-high seven clearances among his 15 disposals.
Fremantle raced to a three-goal lead inside the opening 10 minutes with goals from Sam Switkowski, Amiss and Sean Darcy, finishing the first term with five goals to none.
Zurhaar pulled off a spectacular mark over teammate Todd Goldstein for North's first goal early in the second quarter in a rare highlight for the Kangaroos.
Brennan Cox finished an excellent team goal with a clever banana finish, with Michael Walters adding two more majors before half-time.
Youngster Nathan O'Driscoll slotted a stunning set shot from the boundary in the third, while both sides picked up second-half injuries with Ben McKay limping off with a right knee concern, while Switkowski copped a Horne-Francis knee to the head in a marking contest.
Debutant joins exclusive club
The Dockers unveiled another young gun with No.8 draft pick Jye Amiss making his debut, joining the exclusive first kick, first goal club six minutes in. Amiss out-bodied seasoned defender Aidan Corr for his chance, slotting home from 40m out straight in front. The 18-year-old, who had kicked nine goals in his past three WAFL games, had three score involvements in the first quarter, before a crafty dribbler helped set up Brennan Cox's second-term goal, aided by Nathan O'Driscoll's sharp work on the line.
What's going on at North?
Thirty games into David Noble's reign, the Kangaroos have only managed five wins with 25 losses. They were missing their suspended leading goalkicker Nick Larkey against Fremantle but lacked any distinct goal threat, going two quarters without a major. North's final total of 3.6 (24) was the club's equal ninth lowest in their history, with the club low happening in 2019 when they managed only 1.8 (14) away to Geelong. North have also conceded 100+ points in five of its past six games.
Fremantle's stingy defence claimed another scalp, restricting North to only three goals for the game. The Dockers have conceded totals of 24, 66, 62, 59, 54, 47, 65 and 82 across their eight matches, averaging 57.37 points against per game, providing the perfect foundation for victory. Backline pair Hayden Young and Heath Chapman (12 intercepts) returned from their stints in health and safety protocols seamlessly, while Luke Ryan held firm throughout with eight marks and 14 disposals.
FREMANTLE 5.1 8.5 12.9 15.12 (102)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2 2.3 2.5 3.6 (24)
Fremantle: Banfield 2, Walters 2, Switkowski 2, Amiss 2, Darcy, Cox, O'Driscoll, Clark, Young, Mundy, Schultz
North Melbourne: Zurhaar 2, Coleman-Jones
Fremantle: Brayshaw, Brodie, Clark, Darcy, Banfield, Treacy
North Melbourne: Thomas, Young, McKay, Zurhaar
Fremantle: Switkowski (head)
North Melbourne: McKay (knee)
Fremantle: Neil Erasmus (replaced Sam Switkowski in fourth quarter)
North Melbourne: Jack Mahony (replaced Ben McKay at three-quarter time)
Crowd: 37,040 at Optus Stadium