Fremantle have booted the last three majors to pip Adelaide by one point as the Crows’ much-hyped draftee Josh Rachele kicked five goals on AFL debut.
The Dockers appeared down and out when Rachele slotted his fifth major to put Adelaide 18 points up nine minutes into the last quarter.
But Fremantle surged again for a thrilling 11.17 (83) to 12.10 (82) victory on Sunday at Adelaide Oval.
The Dockers had an unlikely hero: in the final 15 seconds, Adelaide’s Ben Keays launched at goal only for Fremantle’s seven-gamer Heath Chapman to get a fist to the ball on the goal-line and prevent a score.
Fremantle’s prized signing, former Geelong winger Jordan Clark, made an instant impact with 20 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal in his club debut.
Ex-Gold Coast utility Will Brodie (22 disposals), Andrew Brayshaw (28 touches, nine inside 50s), evergreen David Mundy (23 possessions) and Caleb Serong (23 disposals) were all prominent.
Adelaide’s Rachele, the No.6 pick at last year’s draft, booted 5.1 and midfielders Keays (37 disposals) and Matt Crouch, who collected 30 touches in his first AFL game since 2020, were industrious.
Jimmy Rowe (21 disposals, two goals) and halfback Luke Brown were other standouts for the Crows while ex-Swan Jordan Dawson gathered 17 disposals and kicked a goal.
Fremantle led 4.5 to 2.0 at quarter-time and their 8.9 to 5.2 halftime advantage came with a dominant midfield – Brayshaw, Serong and Clark had 17 inside 50s between them, one less than Adelaide’s team.
But Fremantle’s advantage rapidly disappeared as Adelaide piled on six goals to none in the third term, including Rachele’s fourth which gave the Crows the lead for the first time.
Adelaide held a 10-point buffer at three-quarter time after having 17 inside 50s for the term, one less than in the entire opening half.
Rachele’s brilliant debut continued when he scored the opening goal of the last quarter to put Adelaide 18 points ahead.
But the Dockers kicked the next two majors and, with five minutes left, were just six points down.
After Adelaide rushed a point, an errant pass from Crow Riley Thilthorpe ended with Fremantle’s Lachie Schultz (three goals), who converted on the run as the Dockers stole a one-point break.
Then came the drama from the last stoppage of the game when Adelaide’s Keays snapped from a pack and the ball appeared headed for a score until Chapman got the timeliest of fists to the football.