FREMANTLE has blasted the premiership race wide open after its second consecutive win against a leading contender, beating Brisbane by 14 points in a heavyweight clash at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
One week on from their stirring win over reigning premier Melbourne, the Dockers made another massive statement with a 15.9 (99) to 13.7 (85) win over the Lions in a thrilling clash.
DOCKERS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
The result drew Justin Longmuir's team level with the Lions in second spot on 9-3 and one win off top-placed Melbourne, putting themselves firmly in the flag mix ahead of the second half of the season.
The match was about as close as you will get to a September preview in June, played at a finals-like intensity between two high-quality teams who threw everything at each other for four relentless quarters.
The win was ultimately testament to the Dockers' now famed defence, which held up under significant pressure against the highest scoring team in the competition.
Fremantle then took its chances when it had the momentum, setting up the win during a five-goal run in the third quarter that opened up a 23-point lead, and then coming again in the fourth quarter when the Lions challenged and cut the margin to 11.
The crowd of 47,212 – the third highest non-Derby home crowd in the Dockers' history – erupted on the siren, sensing the direction their club is now heading in 2022.
Midfielder Andrew Brayshaw was outstanding with 39 disposals, winning nine clearances and an equal team-high 16 contested possessions to lead from the front, with sidekick Caleb Serong (31 and six clearances) creative and crucial.
Will Brodie continued a marvellous season with 25 disposals and a game-high 10 clearances, with his centre bounce work influential through the third quarter run.
MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list
In attack, Bailey Banfield came from nowhere to boot a career-best four goals, while Rory Lobb and Michael Frederick kicked three apiece. Usual defender Griffin Logue iced the game in the dying minutes.
Zac Bailey threatened to steal the game for the Lions through his brilliance in a rollicking fourth quarter, kicking two of his four goals, while Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale (31 and four clearances) delivered against his former team.
Brisbane controlled the early exchanges and was able to play the game largely in its front half, winning the contested ball (37-28) and clearances (13-7) convincingly in the first quarter to keep the pressure on their opponents and take a 13-point lead at the first change.
The Dockers lifted in the second quarter and went on a three-goal run, with the lethal hands of Serong, who had 11 possessions for the term, crucial in launching the scoring chains.
POST-MATCH Hear what the coaches had to say
Brayshaw had 14 touches for the term and continually found space at stoppages and worked past opponents to drive the Dockers forward as the home team reversed the clearance trend.
The tension in the contest was evident when a melee broke out after Logue's goal early in the second quarter, with the intensity of both teams then lifting.
When in-form midfielder James Aish converted on the run from 45m the Dockers had all the momentum, but Eric Hipwood converted late in the quarter to give the Lions a one-point lead at the main break.
The Dockers kicked six goals to three in the third quarter to set up the win, and held their ground in the final term under heavy pressure and relentless effort from the visitors, making the win all the more meritorious.
The team thing isn't always the right thing
Griffin Logue is a defender playing forward out of necessity – and playing well – but some selfishness around goal wouldn't go astray. Two minutes into a hectic third quarter and Freo speedster Travis Colyer was streaming forward. His kick from 40m was on target, but Logue was in a position to do the safe thing and mark in the goalsquare. He chose to shepherd the ball through instead and it bounced on its end and back into play, with the Lions cleaning up. It was a blooper on an otherwise fine day for Logue, whose aerial competitiveness in attack has been just what the Dockers need with Matt Taberner sidelined. He just needs a little dose of goalkicking hunger.
Former housemates collide
More than four years have passed since a teenage draftee Andrew Brayshaw moved in with then-Fremantle teammate Lachie Neale, and plenty has changed since. They are now the best midfielders on their opposing teams, and the pair went head-to-head on Sunday. Brayshaw was outstanding and didn't take a backwards step around his former landlord, laying several hard tackles on Neale and catching him holding the ball on one significant occasion. Neale was also prominent in his first game against his former club since round two, 2020, having missed both clashes last season. Much loved as a Docker, the crowd had no interest in wooing him back, booing the Brownlow medallist early before the game settled.
Banfield's bundle causes a headache
Bailey Banfield has lived on the edge of selection this season, often selected as the substitute and playing as a pressure forward when in the team. On Sunday, it was his turn to attack, kicking three goals in the third quarter, including two nice left-foot snaps, and then a fourth in the final term. He was a headache for the Lions, and the Dockers now have a tough selection decision to make as forwards Sam Switkowski and Michael Walters prepare to return. The career-best performance was reward for effort and testament to the growing depth at the Dockers, who won on Sunday without key players on every line, but particularly in attack.
FREMANTLE 1.1 4.3 10.5 15.9 (99)
BRISBANE 3.2 4.4 7.6 13.7 (85)
Fremantle: Banfield 4, Frederick 3, Lobb 3, Logue 2, Aish, Meek, Serong
Brisbane: Bailey 4, Cameron 3, McStay 2, Coleman, Hipwood, McCarthy, Ah Chee
Fremantle: Brayshaw, Serong, Banfield, Brodie, Lobb, Aish, Frederick
Brisbane: Bailey, Neale, Rich, Rayner, Cameron, Lyons
Brisbane: Gardiner (ribs), Zorko (hand)
Fremantle: Mitch Crowden (unused)
Brisbane: Callum Ah chee (replaced Darcy Gardiner)