FREMANTLE'S season is alive after the Dockers overcame a resurgent Lance Franklin in vintage form to win a thrilling clash against Sydney by two points at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
Franklin booted six goals in a magnificent performance and threatened to steal the match in the final term before Dockers skipper Nat Fyfe buried his goalkicking demons to snap the match-winning goal.
DOCKERS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats
Fremantle held on in the dying minutes, with club champion Luke Ryan spoiling the Swans' last forward entry with 14 second left to seal the 12.14 (86) to 13.6 (84) win, which keeps the Dockers in the top-eight hunt.
The ferocious and high-quality contest swung repeatedly in the second half, with the lead changing four times in the thrilling final term.
It was the desperate Dockers who ended with their noses just in front, taking a top-eight scalp to draw level on points with eighth-placed Richmond and end a three-game losing run.
The Dockers addressed their biggest weaknesses, tackling ferociously in attack and converting critical chances, although they still finished with more behinds than goals.
'ENORMOUS' FYFE Longmuir praises his skipper
Rory Lobb was outstanding for the home team, booting 4.0 and taking nine marks (four contested), standing tall once key forward Matt Taberner went down with an ankle injury.
As well as kicking the match-winner, Fyfe was dominant in the midfield, finishing with 27 disposals and a game-high 13 clearances – one shy of his career-best 14.
David Mundy (29 and seven clearances) and Michael Walters (23 and a goal) were excellent in a midfield that got the team back in the contest during the third quarter.
Franklin, who booted eight goals in his only other game at Optus Stadium, was in rare touch, kicking three goals in each half, including three from beyond 50m.
Treacy's sweet timing
First-year Freo forward Josh Treacy had a frustrating start to his AFL career earlier this season, coming into the Dockers' team and going goalless for three weeks before he was omitted. Touches were hard to come by for the bullocking forward on Saturday night, but he timed his first AFL goal sweetly, bombing the ball from outside 50 and on an angle to put the Dockers ahead as time on approached in the final term. It was a critical contribution late in the game.
Dead-eye Swans take second-quarter chances
Trailing by two points early in the second quarter, Sydney went on a three-goal run that saw James Rowbottom, Tom Papley and Chad Warner kick brilliant goals that would usually have claims as goal of the match. Rowbottom snapped from 45m on the run when he was in position to handball, Papley converted a right-foot checkside, and Warner broke free in the middle to bounce one through from 60m. The run of half chances was outdone by Franklin, however, who worked Griffin Logue under the ball on the wing, took one bounce as he burst into the corridor, and launched from 60m. The forwards rewarded their midfielders, who won the clearances 15-11 for the term.
Walters sends message
With Andrew Brayshaw missing because of a calf injury, Walters was sent into the midfield for the opening centre bounce and stayed there for most of the game. The 2019 All-Australian still had an impact forward, snapping a classy goal out of a stoppage late in the third quarter and celebrating with two curious hand gestures. The first was a talking motion with his hand, and the second was a writing action. Only Walters can explain what he meant, but for much of Saturday night he let his football do the talking.
FREMANTLE 3.2 6.6 10.11 12.14 (86)
SYDNEY 4.0 9.3 9.4 13.6 (84)
Fremantle: Lobb 4, Schultz 2, Cerra, Serong, Taberner, Walters, Treacy, Fyfe
Sydney: Franklin 6, Papley 2, Florent, Hayward, Heeney, Rowbottom, Warner
Fremantle: Lobb, Fyfe, Mundy, Walters, Ryan, Schultz, Darcy, Cerra
Sydney: Franklin, Mills, Papley, Warner, Kennedy, Dawson
Fremantle: Taberner (ankle)
Sydney: Hickey (left leg), Fox (eye)
Fremantle: Connor Blakely (replaced Taberner)
Sydney: Ryan Clarke (replaced Fox)
Crowd: 29,134 at Optus Stadium