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Freo survive Fyfe scare to flog Dogs

Nathan Fyfe of the Dockers breaks free from the pack during the 2013 NAB Cup round 03 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Western Bulldogs at Bendigo Bank Stadium, Mandurah. (Photo: Will Russell/AFL Media)
Nat Fyfe was in outstanding touch in Fremantle's big win
FREMANTLE midfielder Nat Fyfe has shrugged off a shoulder scare to dominate in Saturday's 109-point NAB Cup win over the Western Bulldogs in Mandurah.
Fyfe sent a scare through Rushton Park late in the third quarter when he left the ground clutching his reconstructed left shoulder, but he returned in the final term to top off a brilliant 30-possession performance.
The star 21-year-old was a clear best-on-ground in the 0.23.8 (146) to 0.5.7 (37) win, leading a powerful Fremantle midfield with eight clearances and 17 contested possessions.
It was an impressive return to form for the Brownlow Medal fancy after a lacklustre performance against Carlton at Etihad Stadium seven days earlier.
Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich and sharpshooter Chris Mayne shared centre stage in the first half as the team's forward line came together just in time for the round one Derby clash with West Coast.
Pavlich moved well and kicked three goals in his first game for the pre-season after off-season back, hip and Achilles tendon surgery. 
Mayne, meanwhile, was eye-catching in his return from an ankle injury, kicking three goals and taking two soaring marks to highlight his importance to Fremantle's forward set-up.
Fremantle played close to its best side two weeks out from the round-one Derby against West Coast, with David Mundy (24 disposals), Matt de Boer (three goals) and Michael Walters (four) also impressive.
Coach Ross Lyon said the team had "no excuses" ahead of its blockbuster season-opener against the Eagles.   
"The summer's over and we've had a real appetite for the work, a real thirst for the work and improvement, as I imagine the Eagles have," Lyon said post-match.  
"We go into round one knowing it's going to be a fierce battle; it's going to be harder than that.
"We did what we need to do and we move on …it's going to be a cracker round one."
The Bulldogs were missing up to half of their best line-up, including midfielders Matthew Boyd, Daniel Cross, Ryan Griffin, and Liam Picken.
Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney, who was one of just four Bulldogs with more than 35 games experience, returned for the Bulldogs and showed some good signs, despite close attention from tagger Ryan Crowley.  
Recruit Koby Stevens (27 disposals and three clearances) was the Dogs' best, however, proving he will be a valued midfielder after crossing from West Coast in search of more playing opportunities.
Coach Brendan McCartney said the Bulldogs had planned to field a young side against Fremantle more than a month ago and they would be at full-strength for next weekend's trial match against Richmond.
"We'll go much stronger back in Melbourne next week and give a better showing," he said. 
"If you were a Bulldogs supporter here today you wouldn't have recognised a lot of the faces, [but] it's another game against more experienced people and they learn.
"We'll keep looking for tough young people that don't like getting pushed around and bashed up."     
Due to 33C temperatures in Mandurah, both teams were allowed unlimited rotations with six in interchange players each.
What it means
The round one western derby will be a blockbuster as both teams prepare close to full strength teams for the clash. Fremantle has strong cover for injured star Aaron Sandilands in the ruck, with Zac Clarke showing good signs against the Dogs when he was in the centre square. Lyon also trialled Kepler Bradley in defence as he contemplates a tall Eagles' forward line. The Bulldogs won't dwell on Saturday's result, with more to be read into how they perform at full strength next weekend.  
What they said
"I could have kicked one today at one point. They were young and it opened up and [we're] respectful that they're a young, emerging team and we're a team we feel on the rise and we needed to do what we did." – Fremantle coach Ross Lyon
"They were wound up today Freo, a very mature, strong team, and they play a terrific brand of footy. They play footy the right way and I think a lot of that wasn't lost on our young players." – Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney   
Fantasy snapshot
Koby Stevens was the Bulldogs' leading Fantasy scorer with 69 points, ploughing through a tough afternoon to win a team-high 23 possessions. The former Eagle has impressed coach Brendan McCartney and appears a lock for the Dogs' round-one team. There is plenty of scope for improvement in his scores, with the hard-nosed midfielder laying just one tackle and taking two marks. Register your AFL Fantasy side here.

FREMANTLE                      0.5.2   0.11.3   0.17.6   0.23.8 (146)   
WESTERN BULLDOGS   0.2.3    0.2.5     0.4.5     0.5.7     (37) 

Western Bulldogs: Nil
Walters 4, Mayne 3, Pavlich 3, de Boer 3, Ballantyne 2, Crozier 2, Duffield, Griffin, Hill, Mzungu, Neale, Suban  
Western Bulldogs: Austin, Cooney, Dahlhaus, Dickson, Cordy
Fyfe, Mundy, de Boer, Mayne, Pavlich, Walters, C. Pearce
Western Bulldogs: Stevens, Smith, Dahlhaus

Western Bulldogs: Nil
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Farmer, Margetts, Leppard
Official crowd: approx. 5,000 at Rushton Park