Eerie scenes at Optus Stadium
Fremantle did what it needed to do at Optus Stadium on Saturday night. The Dockers beat bottom side North Melbourne by 51 points in front of empty stands.
Led by experienced pair David Mundy and Nat Fyfe and rising stars Caleb Serong and Andrew Brayshaw, the Dockers got out to a good start and finished well to win strongly, 14.15 (99) to 6.12 (48).
But the Kangaroos were able to do something they haven’t done in five previous rounds this season – they got their hands on the footy.
Generally, the Dockers controlled the game, but for the first time this season, the Kangaroos had more disposals than their opposition – 397-390.
At times they tried to move the ball too fast and they turned it over a lot; but they showed on occasion a willingness to deliberately slow the play and keep hold of the ball.
They amassed 265 uncontested possessions; their best return for the season.
Fremantle did enough to comfortably win their third consecutive game.
JACK IN THE BACK
Regardless of the possession count, again the Roos looked out of sorts as they went forward.
Most of the good work they did was in defence and Jack Ziebell, with 37 touches, led the way.
Those who say he just pushed up his stats though are underplaying the way he is putting his body on the line for his team.
Ziebell took 14 marks, a heap of those intercepting forward pushes that could easily have ended in Dockers goals. The margin would have been much greater without him.
Optus Stadium was a sight to behold on Saturday nightSource:Getty Images
DOCKERS’ KICKING WOES
Fremantle is doing itself no favours in front of goal either and wasting an opportunity to significantly improve its percentage.
For the sixth consecutive week, they kicked more behinds than points, adding to the 53.71 they had on the board going into Round 6.
Their skipper and dual Brownlow medallist is one of the main culprits. His tally of 0.4 added to the 1.10 he’d kicked in his previous four outings in 2020.
James Aish (0.2), Serong (0.2) and Michael Fredrick (0.2) were also repeat offenders, missing shots they should have made.
INTO THE UNKNOWN
North Melbourne flew into Perth just as the WA government announced a three-day lockdown due to two positive community-spread COVID-19 cases.
But the Roos officials said the impact on the side was minimal; although not everyone, including runner Brent Harvey, were unable to attend the game.
It took the Roos 10 minutes to settle into the game, played without any spectators.
Fremantle brought the effort to the contest early and led the contested possessions count 1608 after just 10 minutes.
Fortunately for North, the Dockers couldn’t put the scoreboard pressure on that they had earned.
It was almost 10 minutes into the game that the Roos had their first possessions inside their forward line.
Cameron Zurhaar missed the shot on goal, but it triggered something in his team.
Fremantle led by just eight points at the first break, after Matt Taberner kicked a goal from a mark that, without a crowd in attendance, the umpire was able to judge he marked just before the siren sounded.
The disruptions look certain to continue to North Melbourne, however. As the side ran out on to the ground on Saturday night, they had not heard when they would be able to fly out of Perth, or whether their Round 7 clash against Melbourne could still go ahead in Tasmania.
THE YOUNG AND THE OLD
Fremantle dominated the second term and opened a 28-point lead at halftime. The lead had been as high as 35-points as the home side took control.
North were using Ben Cunnington and Kayne Turner in stopping roles, but the Dockers midfield was too difficult to stop.
Veteran Mundy was in everything, as he has been throughout the early stages of this season.
Surely there are no questions lingering as to whether the 35-year old will play on in 2022.
Mundy had 20 touches, six clearances and kicked two goals in the first half.
And he wasn’t the only Docker who seemed the have a ball on a string in that first half.
Serong, the 2020 AFL Rising Star, had collected 18 possessions, 10 of them contested and had helped the Dockers take advantage in clearances, with five.
DOCKERS 3.4 7.9 11.13 14.15 (99)
KANGAROOS 2.2 3.5 5.9 6.12 (48)
ELBOROUGH’S BEST Dockers: Mundy, Serong, Fyfe, Hughes, Brayshaw, Darcy. Kangaroos: Ziebell, Menadue, Simpkin, Cunnington, Turner, Taylor.
GOALS Dockers: Schultz 4, Teberner 4; Mundy 3; Colyer, Darcy, Walters. Kangaroos: Stephenson 2; Phillips, Goldstein, Larky, Campbell.
INJURIES Dockers: Cox (ankle). Kangaroos: Nil.
UMPIRES Donlon, Meredith, Johanson.
VENUE Optus Stadium
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
BRAD ELBOROUGH’S VOTES
3 Mundy (Dockers)
2 Serong (Dockers)
1 Fyfe (Dockers)
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