FREMANTLE has booted the last three majors to pip Adelaide by one point as the Crows' much-hyped draftee Josh Rachele kicked five goals on AFL debut.
The Dockers appeared down and out when Rachele slotted his fifth major to put Adelaide 18 points up nine minutes into the last quarter.
CROWS v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
But Fremantle surged again for a thrilling 11.17 (83) to 12.10 (82) victory on Sunday at Adelaide Oval.
The Dockers had an unlikely hero: in the final 15 seconds, Adelaide's Ben Keays launched at goal only for Fremantle's seven-gamer Heath Chapman to get a fist to the ball on the goal-line and prevent a score.
Fremantle's prized signing, former Geelong wingman Jordan Clark, made an instant impact with 20 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal in his club debut.
Ex-Gold Coast utility Will Brodie (22 disposals), Andrew Brayshaw (28 touches, nine inside 50s), evergreen David Mundy (23 possessions) and Caleb Serong (23 disposals) were all prominent.
Adelaide's Rachele, the No.6 pick at last year's draft, booted 5.1 and midfielders Keays (37 disposals) and Matt Crouch, who collected 30 touches in his first AFL game since 2020, were industrious.
Jimmy Rowe (21 disposals, two goals) and half-back Luke Brown were other standouts for the Crows, while ex-Swan Jordan Dawson gathered 17 disposals and kicked a goal.
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Fremantle led 4.5 to 2.0 at quarter-time and their 8.9 to 5.2 half-time advantage came with a dominant midfield - Brayshaw, Serong and Clark had 17 inside 50s between them, one less than Adelaide's team.
But the Dockers’ advantage rapidly disappeared as the Crows piled on six goals to none in the third term, including Rachele's fourth which gave his side the lead for the first time.
Adelaide held a 10-point buffer at three-quarter time after having 17 inside 50s for the term, one less than in the entire opening half.
Rachele's brilliant debut continued when he scored the opening goal of the last quarter to put Adelaide 18 points ahead.
But the Dockers kicked the next two majors and, with five minutes left, were just six points down.
After Adelaide rushed a point, an errant pass from Crow Riley Thilthorpe ended with Fremantle's Lachie Schultz (three goals), who converted on the run as the Dockers stole a one-point break.
Then came the drama from the last stoppage of the game when Adelaide's Keays snapped from a pack and the ball appeared headed for a score until Chapman got the timeliest of fists to the football.
Rachele, Rachele: A young man's exciting journey to the big time
A forward line that lost Eddie Betts two seasons back and has Taylor Walker banished to the sidelines was crying out for a new hero - cue Josh Rachele. The number six draft selection impressed through the pre-season, creating expectation in a success-starved supporter base that could have proven too much to meet. Not for this kid. Rachele snapped a goal in the opening term with his first kick in the big league, followed it with a massive curler from the boundary line in the second quarter, two more in the third and one in the fourth that felt like the winner, if just for a few minutes. They like their cult forwards in Adelaide and it looks like they may have found a new one.
How did Cats let Clark out of the bag
After an impressive debut season in 2019 Jordan Clark didn't get a lot of opportunity at Geelong, but he made the most of his first outing in purple (or white, to be exact). He came out with intent, grabbing eight first-quarter touches, but it was a sensational running goal early in the second term that will have Freo fans putting a number six on the back of their jumpers. It's hard for anyone to break into the Geelong lineup, but Clark's class and composure, combined with a long future ahead, makes it hard to see how this Cat got out of the bag.
Dockers' goalkicking woes
Inaccuracy in front of goal arguably cost Fremantle a finals spot in 2021 and their 2022 campaign has started in the same woeful, wayward manner. The Dockers dominated inside 50s in the first half to lead by 25 points at the long break, but the difference should have been twice that amount. By three-quarter time the Crows were in front and seemed to have the game under control before Freo's final five-minute flurry. It's as if the Dockers tried to shoot themselves in the foot, but even then they missed!
ADELAIDE 2.0 5.2 11.5 12.10 (82)
FREMANTLE 4.5 8.9 8.13 11.17 (83)
Adelaide: Rachele 5, Fogarty 2, Rowe 2, Dawson, Smith, Thilthorpe
Fremantle: Schultz 3, Lobb 2, Banfield, Clark, Frederick, Switkowski, Treacy, Tucker
Adelaide: Keayes, Rachele, Crouch, Rowe, Sloane
Fremantle: Brayshaw, Mundy, Switkowski, Young, Schultz
Adelaide: Lachlan Sholl (replaced Andrew McPherson in the second quarter)
Fremantle: Travis Colyer (unused)
Crowd: TBC at Adelaide Oval