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Melbourne falls short by two points

Marc McGowan  April 15, 2017 5:22 PM

 

A RESURGENT Fremantle outlasted fast-finishing Melbourne by two points to level its win-loss ledger through four rounds in a remarkable game of momentum changes at the MCG on Easter Saturday.

Both teams appeared to have a stranglehold on the contest at different stages.

The Demons led by a game-high 27 points in the second term thanks to five-straight goals, only for the Dockers to surge 22 points clear at three-quarter time after eight consecutive majors of their own.

But it was Cam McCarthy's effort to get a foot to an incoming ball in the goal square as the clock ticked towards 30 minutes in the final term that delivered the Dockers the win, 16.10 (106) to 15.14 (104).

Melbourne had snatched the lead only minutes earlier, when co-captain Jack Viney marked and goaled from 40m after Alex Neal-Bullen set him up.

The Demons had slotted six of the past eight majors to that stage to send most of the 27,829-strong crowd into raptures.

James Harmes had the last chance to be the hero for Melbourne, but his long-range attempt drifted to the left on the run.

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon praised his players for overcoming a sloppy and at-times undisciplined first half to notch consecutive victories.

"It was a good win, wasn't it? I liked it," Lyon said.

"[We had] the character to keep on fighting.

"It's nice to get the reward. If you're going to lay there exhausted having spent everything, that's the price, and if you get the four points, that helps to fuel your belief."

Lachie Weller stood tall in the second half, amassing 13 of his 27 disposals in the third quarter to instigate a seven-goal-to-none term that turned the match on its head.

Nat Fyfe (25 possessions) and Connor Blakely (23) came along for the ride, while tough on-ballers David Mundy (23) and Lachie Neale (22) spent extended stints in attack and combined for seven goals.

Neale is used to terrorising the Demons through weight of possession, but instead kicked a pair of majors in the second and third terms to make his impact in another way.

His accurate set shot after the half-time siren snapped the Dockers' drought and gave them some impetus for the second half.

Lyon's future at Fremantle was questioned after his men copped an 89-point hiding to Port Adelaide to fall to 0-2 despite still having three more years left on his contract.

But the come-from-behind victory over Melbourne, following the 16-point upset of reigning premiers the Western Bulldogs in Perth last week, has shored up Lyon's credentials.

The road success owed most to a breathtaking third quarter, where the slick Dockers kept Melbourne goalless and dominated inside 50s (22-10) and tackles (26-14) and extended their clearance buffer (12-9).

The lead changed hands five times in a frenetic first half of the second term as both sides put a turnover-filled opening behind them.

Christian Petracca was directly involved in the first two goals of the Demons' five in a row, and kick-started the last of them with a strong mark on the wing that eventually became Jeff Garlett's second.

Dom Tyson had 11 of his 28 disposals in the second quarter, helping make up for the relative ineffectiveness of usual big ball-winners Viney, Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince.

Boom youngster Clayton Oliver (26) was terrific again, winning five first-quarter clearances and 10 for the day to do his bit to cover for missing big names Max Gawn, Jesse Hogan and Jordan Lewis.

Garlett finished with three goals in his 150th match.

Jake Spencer battled hard in the start of Gawn's three-month hamstring-related absence, but opposing big man Aaron Sandilands was a clear winner with 53 hit-outs and 14 touches.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said the Demons were "shattered as a footy club".

"We've had two quarters over the last two weeks which haven't resembled anything about us," Goodwin said.

"I think they had 22 inside 50s (in the third quarter) and we were pretty average around the footy and we also lacked composure with the ball, especially in our defensive 50.

"We had trouble getting the ball out and that really weighed heavily against us after a while."

MEDICAL REPORT

Melbourne: Nil

Fremantle: Stephen Hill left the ground late with a corked thigh to be the Dockers' sole injury concern. The speedster will be monitored during the week. Ed Langdon played the match out with a migraine.

NEXT UP

Melbourne faces an important Anzac Eve clash against in-form Richmond under lights at the MCG. The match could have long-term ramifications for both sides as the Dees try to avoid three losses on the trot. Fremantle returns to the comforts of Domain Stadium to host the winless but dogged Kangaroos.

MELBOURNE            2.5 9.7 9.10 15.14 (104)
FREMANTLE             3.2 6.4 13.8 16.10 (106)

GOALS
Melbourne: 
Garlett 3, Harmes 2, Spencer 2, Petracca 2, Watts, Kent, Neal-Bullen, Watts, Salem, Viney
Fremantle: Neale 4, Mundy 3, McCarthy 2, Kersten, Fyfe, Balic, Walters, Crozier, S.Hill, Grey 

BEST 
Melbourne: 
Oliver, Tyson, Petracca, Watts, Harmes, Garlett
Fremantle: Mundy, Sandilands, Fyfe, Weller, Neale, S.Hill

INJURIES 
Melbourne: 
Nil
Fremantle: S.Hill (corked thigh)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Harris, Mitchell

Official crowd: 27,829 at the MCG