Fremantle’s finals hopes are still alive, overcoming three key selection outs, horror goalkicking and a fast-finishing relentless Richmond to produce one of the club’s best wins in some time.
After a wildly inaccurate first half — the two teams combined for 3.18 — the Tigers got on a roll, kicking five of six goals across the third and fourth terms to take the lead.
But the young Dockers, who were without Nat Fyfe, Michael Walters and Alex Pearce, found another gear, kicking the last two goals of the game then seeing off several Richmond forays to register a famous four-point win, 7.13 (55) to 6.15 (51).
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QUARTER-BY-QUARTER MATCH REPORT
There were no late changes for either side, with Connor Blakely (Fremantle) and Josh Caddy (Richmond) named the medical subs.
The Dockers got the fast start with Matt Taberner marking strongly and converting his set-shot to kick the first goal of the game in his 100th AFL match before Travis Colyer snapped a second unanswered goal.
“This is an amazing start by Freo … They are ballistic with their ball use,” Brownlow Medallist Gerard Healy told Fox Footy.
“The Richmond coach is not happy, the signs are horrible.”
But for all of Fremantle’s slick ball movement, it couldn’t capitalise on its opportunities, kicking 2.6 from 12 inside 50 entries.
“It’s the story of their year,” Fremantle legend Matthew Pavlich told Fox Footy of the Dockers’ inaccuracy.
Rhyan Mansell kicked a miraculous first AFL goal to reduce the Dockers’ lead to 11 points at quarter-time.
There was a nasty incident at the start of the second term when Bailey Banfield landed on his head while applying a tackle. The game was held up for five minutes as Banfield was placed onto a medical cart, which saw him subbed out of the game and replaced by Blakely.
It was, unfortunately, the biggest moment of a forgettable, goalless second quarter as both teams struggled for accuracy in front of goal.
The Dockers kicked 0.4 and the Tigers managed 0.7 in the second term to give the former an eight-point lead at the main change.
“It has killed the Fremantle Dockers’ season,” Healy said.
After nine straight behinds in 38 minutes of game time, Taberner finally broke the goal drought with a stunning left foot snap from the pocket.
Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin then gave away a 50m penalty, gifting Lachie Schultz another goal.
But Richmond lifted its pressure, leading to scoreboard opportunities for Tom Lynch and Matt Parker.
However Taberner came up clutch again, kicking a goal on the three quarter-time siren to give Fremantle a 10-point lead at the final chance.
Then the Tigers came again at the start of the fourth term. Parker snapped a terrific goal before Kane Lambert nailed a brilliant running goal to give Richmond the lead for the first time today.
Jack Riewoldt then marked and goaled to make it three majors in 10 minutes.
“They’re making their move,” Fox Footy commentator Adam Papalia said.
Fremantle, though, found another gear. Schultz took a spectacular mark of the year contender then converted to reduce Richmond’s lead to under a kick, before Caleb Serong gave the Dockers the lead.
The Tigers locked the ball in their forward half in the dying minutes, but some great composure from Hayden Young and gusty clearances from Andy Brayshaw ensured the Dockers held on for a famous win.
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This match gets underway at 5.10pm from Optus Stadium.
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