FREMANTLE has climbed into the top eight and set up a blockbuster Western Derby with its third straight win, notching a 51-point win against North Melbourne at an empty Optus Stadium.
In a feisty and physical clash that threatened to boil over at times, the Dockers soaked up an early rally from the Kangaroos before taking over with authority and kicking on to win 14.15 (99) to 6.12 (48).
It was the first time the club has won three consecutive matches since round 13, 2019, and the first time under coach Justin Longmuir, giving them momentum ahead of next Sunday's clash against West Coast.
They climbed to sixth on the ladder with their fourth win in five games and will end the round in the top eight, while the Eagles slipped to 10th and took a percentage hit with their big loss to Geelong.
The win could come at a cost after valuable defender Brennan Cox suffered an ankle injury when he was caught awkwardly under a tackle from Cam Zurhaar in the final quarter.
David Mundy continued his remarkable early-season form to finish with 30 disposals, eight clearances and three goals. It was his third straight game with more than 25 possessions, six clearances and at least one goal, coinciding with the Dockers' winning run.
He launched the team's second-quarter burst with a delightful stoppage goal, receiving the tap and shaking past two opponents and over a third to kick the first of four straight goals.
DOCKERS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
Midfield sidekicks Caleb Serong (35, six clearances and six inside 50s) and Nat Fyfe (34, seven and six) were superb in the midfield, giving the team a 37-26 clearance advantage, while Andrew Brayshaw (30 and four inside 50s) worked through early attention from Kayne Turner.
Lachie Schultz and Matt Taberner each kicked four goals, including a 'bonus' goal for Taberner at quarter-time when he was awarded a mark inside 50 after the quarter-time siren had sounded.
There was a gulf in skill and organisation between the Dockers and the winless Kangaroos, who turned the ball over far too regularly and at critical times.
While North's effort in what is now a difficult road trip could not be questioned, their focus and organisation – particularly at stoppages – could be.
Captain Jack Ziebell continued to be a key playmaker from the back half for the Kangaroos, finishing with 37 disposals and eight rebound 50s.
Midfielders Ben Cunnington (25 and five clearances) and Jy Simpkin (24 and four) fought hard in the midfield, while first-year onballer Tom Powell showed more glimpses of his talent with 25 disposals – his best return in six games.
Freo puts the foot down
The second-quarter burst launched by Mundy was devastating and put the game out of North Melbourne's reach in the space of 13 minutes, when the Dockers turned an eight-point lead into a 35-point break. They won the clearances 14-4 for the term, led by Mundy, Fyfe and Serong, and turned that into a 17-10 inside-50 advantage. Mundy had 10 touches and five clearances for the term and remains one of the form players of the competition right now with his ability to turn a match with his class and efficiency.
Fyfe misfires again
The Fremantle skipper was doing everything except kicking goals on Saturday night. He was powerful at stoppages, dangerous bursting forward and creative and composed when setting up teammates. But when he had opportunities to convert he faltered, kicking 0.4 and continuing a trend the dual Brownlow medallist will be desperate to reverse soon. He has now kicked 1.12 this season, and 11 consecutive behinds since his last goal. The Dockers kicked more behinds than goals for the fifth time in six games this season.
North learning through new low
The Kangaroos fell to their worst start to a season since 1972, eclipsing the 0-5 start of 2017. David Noble is giving the Kangaroos different checkpoints to hit, with the team trying to win as many quarters as possible and learn about players in different roles. They weren't able to take a quarter away from Fremantle on Saturday night, but learnt more about Tarryn Thomas in the midfield and Powell as a stoppage player. They won the disposal count and out-tackled the Dockers. Effort was the non-negotiable, and for that they got a tick for the majority of the game.
FREMANTLE 3.4 7.9 11.13 14.15 (99)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 3.5 5.9 6.12 (48)
Fremantle: Taberner 4, Schultz 4, Mundy 3, Colyer, Darcy, Walters
North Melbourne: Stephenson 2, Goldstein, Larkey, Campbell, Phillips
Fremantle: Mundy, Fyfe, Serong, Schultz, Brayshaw, Taberner, Darcy, Ryan
North Melbourne: Ziebell, Cunnington, Simpkin, Stephenson, Powell, Mahony
Fremantle: Brennan Cox (ankle), Michael Walters (eye)
North Melbourne: Nil
Fremantle: Connor Blakely (replaced Brennan Cox)
North Melbourne: Dom Tyson (unused)
Crowd: No crowd permitted at Optus Stadium