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Dockers edge Crows in tough slog to stay perfect

Highlights: Adelaide v Fremantle The Crows and Dockers clash in round nine
Matthew Pavlich of the Dockers celebrates a goal during the 2015 AFL Round 09 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Fremantle Dockers at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide on May 30, 2015. (Photo: James Elsby/AFL Media)
Matthew Pavlich celebrates his crucial goal in the third quarter

NAT FYFE has shown why he's considered the best player in the AFL with another brilliant performance as Fremantle maintained its perfect start to the season with an 11-point win over Adelaide on Saturday night.

An undermanned Crows were gallant in defeat but the Dockers booted the only goal of the final term to seal the 10.8 (68) to 7.15 (57) victory in a tough slog at Adelaide Oval.

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"We have to protect the game and I think fans love great battles," Adelaide coach Phil Walsh said. "Everyone walking away from the game would've been talking about Fyfe v Dangerfield."

Fyfe racked up a career-best 40 possessions (26 contested), 14 clearances and kicked a goal as he went head-to-head with Patrick Dangerfield, who picked up 38 touches (29 contested), in one of the great battles of the year.

WATCH: Fyfe v Danger: Battle of the titans

Fremantle dominated the opening stages to bolt out to a 17-point lead on the back of some great transition from defence, before the Crows were sparked by a spectacular banana goal from Eddie Betts. 

Fittingly in Indigenous Round fellow Crows Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Charlie Cameron also hit the scoreboard as Adelaide controlled the rest of the quarter to lead by three points at the first change.

Five talking points: Adelaide v Fremantle

The home side was wasteful in the second term kicking five straight behinds as It took almost 29 minutes for the Dockers to score again after their early lead.

Nick Suban kicked the first goal of the quarter before Betts kicked what will most likely remain the goal of the year. 

He received a handball on the 50, in the left forward pocket scoreboard end and ran towards the boundary before unleashing a torpedo on his opposite left leg that bounced through. Only Betts could've done it as he claimed naming rights to another two pockets at Adelaide Oval. 

"It was pretty special, he's a special player, and I just wished he would've done it in the last quarter," Walsh said of Betts.

The Dockers rallied in the third quarter after the Crows skipped out to a 13-point lead.

Skipper Matthew Pavlich booted two for the term and Michael Walter's third for the game gave Fremantle a four-point lead at the final change. 

"We asked for a lift at half-time and I thought we were pretty emphatic, especially in the last quarter," Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said.

The last quarter was a massive struggle and played predominantly in the Dockers' forward half, but it took a moment of magic from Michael Barlow to break the deadlock. 

The midfielder put in his own goal of the year attempt with a banana from the exact same pocket as Betts' first goal.

Aaron Sandilands was phenomenal in the ruck recording an all-time high 69 hit-outs for the match.

It was a great effort by the Crows and despite the loss, the club will take a lot of confidence out of the match, especially after winning contested ball (188-151) and tackles (88-71) comfortably.

"The key elements are there, to win the ground balls, to win the tackles against a team I rate really highly, that's great affirmation of what we're doing at this footy club," Walsh said.

"The foundations are being laid here for a style of play that will stand up in finals."

ADELAIDE      3.4   4.9    7.12   7.15   (57)                  
FREMANTLE    3.1   4.3      9.4   10.8   (68)           

Adelaide: Betts 2, Cameron, Ellis-Yolmen, Dangerfield, Lynch, Jenkins
Fremantle: Walters 3, Pavlich 2, Mundy, Ballantyne, Suban, Fyfe, Barlow 

Adelaide: Dangerfield, Thompson, Lever, Laird, Ellis-Yolmen, Cheney
Fremantle: Fyfe, Sandilands, Mundy, Pearce, Barlow, Walters 

Adelaide: Nil
Fremantle: Nil 

Adelaide: Jarryd Lyons replaced Brodie Martin at three-quarter time
Fremantle: Tommy Sheridan replaced Matt Taberner in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Findlay, Mollison

Official crowd: 45,518 at Adelaide Oval