FREMANTLE 3.0 5.3 10.7 14.10 (94)
GOLD COAST 3.1 8.2 10.2 14.3 (87)
Fremantle have narrowly avoided an embarrassing loss to an injury depleted Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium in a Saturday night thriller.
Gold Coast have been pushing hard for their first ever win on home soil, coming within 17 points of Essendon just a few weeks ago, and on this occasion, falling just seven points short against the highly fancied Dockers.
If it wasn’t bad enough for the Suns to be missing their prime movers in Gary Ablett and Michael Rischetelli, they will now be without their most important key position player Nathan Bock for the remainder of the season after he broke his leg in the first quarter.
Coach Guy McKenna challenged his younger midfielders to step up in the absence of Ablett and Rischetelli, and they did not disappoint. Harley Bennell earned best on ground honours with a silky and hard running 37 possession, three-goal game.
His use of the Sherrin was first class. Similarly Dion Prestia and Sam Iles also relished the added time in the middle, gathering 32 and 29 disposals respectively.
From the outset the young Suns looked hungrier than Fremantle. They ran harder, tackled harder, showed considerably more passion than the Dockers, and led by a point at quarter time.
If Fremantle were under any illusions as to whether or not they had a game on their hands, the Suns answered that question emphatically in the second quarter.
Karmichael Hunt continued his run of impressive form, and when he marked and goaled after the half-time siren, the Suns came from everywhere to celebrate a five-goal to two quarter.
Fremantle however were not to be out done. Four valuable points for a side hoping to play finals this year was always going to motivate the Dockers back into the contest.
Zac Clarke was finding plenty of footy in the ruck, David Mundy was pumping the ball inside 50, and Fremantle’s best player for the night, Clancee Pearce, was providing plenty of run on his way to 29 disposals.
After trading a couple of goals each early in the third quarter, a goal to Lachie Neal and two more from Matthew De Boer gave the Dockers a five-point lead at the final change, setting up an exciting final stanza.
The lead changed six times in the last quarter, and for the Dockers the cream rose to the top. As has happened so many times over the years, Matthew Pavlich lifted when the game was there to be won.
He gathered eight possessions for the quarter, five of them contested, including a goal to give Fremantle the lead with six minutes left.
When Tendai Mzungu soccered through a goal with seconds remaining on the clock, the Dockers had survived a genuine scare from a talented, yet inexperienced opponent.
3– Harley Bennell (Suns)
2 – Clancee Pearce (Dockers)
1 – Dion Prestia (Suns)
Fremantle: Mayne 3, De Boer 3, Neale 2, Crowley, Pavlich, Clarke, Mzungu, Roberton, Hill
Gold Coast: Bennell 3, Swallow 3, Iles, Hunt, Russell, Brennan, Shaw, Caddy, Brown, Day
Fremantle: Mayne, Crowley, De Boer, Pearce, Ibbotson
Gold Coast: Bennell, Prestia, Hunt, Swallow, Warnock, Iles
Fremantle: Hill (corked quad)
Gold Coast: Bock (fractured leg), David Swallow (ankle), Jared Brennan (knee), Trent McKenzie (calf)
Fremantle: Lee Spurr replaced Stephen Hill in the third quarter
Gold Coast: Josh Toy replaced Nathan Bock in the first quarter
Umpires: Nicholls, Kamolins, Mitchell
Official crowd: 11,670 at Metricon Stadium