Nat Fyfe was the drawcard but it was Andrew Brayshaw who ended up being the hero as Fremantle overcame a brave Hawthorn to post a 13-point AFL win at Optus Stadium.
Brayshaw tallied 37 disposals, seven tackles, and he kicked the match-sealing goal with five minutes remaining to help the Dockers secure the 14.11 (95) to 12.10 (82) victory on Saturday.
Fyfe started in the middle of the ground in his first AFL match for more than 10 months, but he also spent significant stints up forward.
The two-time Brownlow medallist finished with 21 disposals, five clearances, and 1.2 in a promising display.
“I thought he was a little bit rusty, but I expected that,” Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said.
“A good one to get under the belt and clearly he’ll get better. Everyone enjoyed seeing him back out there – I did.”
Brennan Cox, Hayden Young, and Luke Ryan combined for 32 marks in defence as the Dockers improved their record to 10-3 to move to equal top of the table with Melbourne.
Jaeger O’Meara finished with a team-high 30 disposals and nine clearances for the Hawks, while James Sicily (nine marks) was a rock in defence.
Dockers defender Blake Acres was in tears on the bench after appearing to tear his right hamstring in the final quarter.
“He doesn’t think it is overly serious,” Longmuir said.
“He’s disappointed as all players are when they get injured. He feels like it is not a big one.”
Hawthorn’s Sam Frost, who was playing as a forward, was also subbed off in the last term with a knee injury.
Hawthorn’ enjoyed a 10-point halftime lead, with their forward-half pressure proving crucial.
Griffin Logue’s efforts in various marking contests up forward set up two goals for Dockers goalsneak Michael Walters early in the third quarter.
Fyfe bobbed up later in the term, sending the 39,428 crowd wild when he took a strong contested mark on the lead.
Although his shot sailed just wide, he got his first goal of the match a minute later with a volley from the goal line.
Fremantle turned for home with a handy 14-point edge, but the margin was just six when Luke Breust booted his second goal of the match with six minutes remaining.
Brayshaw stood tall when his team needed him most, soccering through from five metres out while holding off his opponent.
The match was expected to test whether Fremantle could overcome their wet weather demons, but the rain stayed away and the contest was played in relatively dry conditions.
Hawthorn won the inside 50m battle 61-47, but the absence of forwards Mitch Lewis (knee) and Jack Gunston (ankle) hurt them dearly.
“I’m pretty frustrated,” Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said.
“We did a lot of things well today. We actually won centre bounces for the first time for the year, but then they kick 4.4 against our centre bounces.
“We get the ball inside 50m 61 times, but we can’t put them away.
“A different set of challenges. I guess that’s to be expected with a growing group, but that doesn’t make it less frustrating for me.”