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Freo keeps finals hopes alive with thrilling win over Sydney

Highlights: Fremantle v Sydney The Dockers and Swans clash in round 18

FREMANTLE has held on for a pressure-relieving victory and kept its flickering finals hopes alive with a one-point win over Sydney at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.

In a nailbiting finale to a scrappy contest, the Dockers kicked the final two behinds of the game through Andrew Brayshaw and Ed Langdon to edge ahead with 1.23 remaining on the clock.

Surviving a last-ditch effort by the Swans to steal a match-winner, Freo held on for a gripping 7.10 (52) to 7.9 (51) triumph that releases the pressure valve on the club and coach Ross Lyon.

Sean Darcy gets a handpass away under pressure. Picture: AFL Photos

After four-straight losses, the Dockers had slipped from sixth on the ladder to 13th but are now back up to 10th and within striking distance of faltering Adelaide in eighth spot.

Only 24 hours after fellow recruit Jesse Hogan was ruled out for the season with a navicular setback, Freo big man Rory Lobb swung the contest.

After a quiet start, Lobb kept Fremantle within striking distance at 10 points down with a major just before half-time, before adding another pair immediately after the break to inspire a five-goal unanswered run.

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The Dockers seemingly had the match in control when Michael Walters pushed the margin to 13 points a minute into the final term, only for the plucky Swans to mount a comeback.

Sam Reid's third goal and Nick Blakey's major edged the visitors closer and with only 2.29 to play they hit the front after Luke Parker's set shot sailed to the right.

Fittingly for a match that never reached any great heights, it was two more behinds that sealed the deal for Fremantle, which has now matched the eight wins from the past two campaigns.

A week after Lyon called on his side to get tougher, the Dockers rolled up their sleeves and outhunted the Swans, winning contested ball by 30.

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Naming three ruckmen against Sydney's undersized pinch-hitters looked a gamble that wasn't going to pay off early but Fremantle's clearance dominance (45-23) eventually told.

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In the absence of superstar skipper Nat Fyfe (elbow), stand-in captain David Mundy went to work around the coalface (11 clearances) with strong support from Reece Conca (six, 26 disposals).

Key defender Joel Hamling was a rock down back, recalled youngster Griffin Logue also grabbed his chance, while veteran Aaron Sandilands (14 disposals, 17 hitouts) showed doubts over his career were off the mark after a calf scare during the week.

Swans midfielder Jake Lloyd was outstanding all night, racking up an equal career-best 42 disposals, while fleet-footed Tom Papley (1.3) and Blakely were threatening.

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Coming off back-to-back defeats to Carlton and Essendon, the young Swans showed there is plenty to be excited about for the future, even if Longmire will miss out on leading his side into September for the first time in nine seasons at the helm.

MEDICAL ROOM
Fremantle: Rory Lobb subluxed his shoulder late in the game, but Ross Lyon is hopeful he will be available to play next week.

Sydney: Big defender Aliir Aliir was vomiting during the first half but returned to the fray. Isaac Heeney limped off midway through the third quarter after appearing to hurt his hip after just getting a kick away, however he was also back soon after. 

NEXT UP
The Dockers travel to Marvel Stadium for a tricky encounter against the Western Bulldogs next Sunday, while the Swans welcome the runaway League leaders Geelong at the SCG.

FREMANTLE    1.1       3.6       6.7       7.10 (52)
SYDNEY           1.4       5.4       5.6       7.9 (51)

GOALS
Fremantle:
Lobb 3, B.Hill, Conca, Matera, Walters
Sydney: Reid 3, Parker, Papley, Fox, Blakey

BEST
Fremantle:
Hamling, Lobb, Conca, Mundy, Walters, Ryan, Darcy
Sydney: Lloyd, Parker, Reid, Blakey, Papley, Hewett

INJURIES
Fremantle:
 Lobb (shoulder)
Sydney: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Rosebury, Gavine, Harris

Official crowd: 33,594 at Optus Stadium