FREMANTLE coach Justin Longmuir has praised the "enormous" contribution of skipper Nat Fyfe on Saturday night after the superstar Docker buried his goalkicking demons with a match-winning performance against Sydney.
Fyfe led Freo to a critical win at Optus Stadium with a massive 13 clearances from his 27 disposals, kicking the final goal of the game out of a stoppage to put his team two points in front.
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The match-winning moment came with Fyfe's goalkicking under scrutiny following a return of 2.16 in the first nine rounds this season. Longmuir said the attention on his forward conversion had masked the dual Brownlow medallist's excellent start to the season.
"One thing I know is he always stands up for us in big moments, he always wants the ball in his hands, and he always does the right thing when the game is on the line," the coach said.
"So it doesn’t surprise me that he wanted it in his hands and was in the right spot. I thought he was enormous. The goalkicking thing has blurred his output, and I think that’s unfair."
Fyfe led a midfield unit that got Fremantle back in the game in the third quarter. They won the clearances (14-7) and contested possessions (42-25), giving the Dockers a 21-7 advantage in forward entries.
It was a dominant quarter that was rewarded with four unanswered goals, including two from tall forward Rory Lobb, who finished with an equal career-best four majors.
"He was outstanding. I think he's been in reasonable form without getting the rewards in terms of marks inside 50 and goals," Longmuir said.
"It's great for him to impose himself on a game tonight."
Michael Walters was involved in one of the more curious moments of a thrilling game, celebrating a goal with two hand gestures. The first was a 'yapping' motion, and the second was a writing action.
Walters told Perth radio station Triple M after the game that his gesture was not aimed at anyone in particular, before adding: "for people to go out there and talk it up and talk behind the phones is wrong".
"There's definitely people out there who see 30 as a retirement age," Walters said.
"I'm out here, I'm putting my body on the line for the team, and I'm really enjoying footy.
"I don't give one iota what people think and I know what I'm out here and the team knows what I'm out here to do."
Longmuir said key forward Matt Taberner would be sent for scans after "tweaking" an ankle, while key defender Alex Pearce had a "sore" ankle after finishing his WAFL return on Saturday at half-time.
Sydney coach John Longmire was frustrated with his team's third quarter, losing the critical term by 28 points but winning the remaining three.
He praised superstar forward Lance Franklin after an electrifying six-goal performance that included three majors from beyond 50m.
"He was fantastic … it's great to see him in that sort of form," the coach said.
Ruckman Tom Hickey played on after a knock to his knee, which had him hobbled for periods through the game.
Longmire, who said it was not the first time he had been troubled by a knock following his return from a PCL injury, hoped his ruckman would be available for next week's clash against Carlton.
Defender Robbie Fox suffered a scratched eyeball and was expected to go to hospital to have the injury treated.