Justin Longmuir stuck to his guns and Michael Walters reminded everyone he is a gun, as Fremantle all-but ended Melbourne’s season with a gutsy upset triumph in Cairns.
In wet and wild conditions at Cazaly’s Stadium, Walters kicked three of his side’s six majors and was the only multiple goal kicker in the match after Longmuir largely persisted with him in attack.
Despite failing to capitalise on a frustrating first half, the Dockers eventually got their reward and got home 6.11 (47) to 4.9 (33) in a result that leaves the 7-8 Demons needing a miracle to play finals.
Youngster Adam Cerra shone with a game-high 30 touches, including a brilliant banana goal in the final term, while veteran David Mundy continued his strong vein of form with another polished performance as he pushes for a contract extension.
The conditions might have suited ducks and the Dockers looked like sitting ducks at half-time, having failed to convert their control into anything resembling scoreboard ascendancy.
Kicking with a strong breeze and dominating territory, Fremantle managed only 1.6 to one behind and led 1.9 (15) to 1.3 (9) in an extraordinary half-time score line.
The Demons were able to limit the Dockers’ ball control game in the third term but Fremantle finally got it done where it counted, adding 3.0 to 1.1.
Ruckman Sean Darcy enjoyed a great moment against Max Gawn as he took the ball from a boundary throw-in before snapping truly.
If that was the unpredictable, Walters soon provided the predictable as he twice swooped on crumbs to kick classical small forward’s goals.
Walters had kicked three of his team’s four goals when the Dockers led a low-scoring slog by 17 points at the final change.
Despite some nervous last-quarter moments, the four points were thoroughly deserved for Fremantle.
Earlier, defender Taylin Duman shone in the opening half in his brightest showing at AFL level before being injured, marking the wet ball as if it was dry and driving the Dockers from the back half.
Fremantle won the uncontested possession count 104-45 and took 49 marks to 14 in the first half but were again breaking down in attack.
Melbourne’s first real highlight was big man Braydon Preuss catching a cheeky Nathan Wilson holding the ball, grabbing the defender by the collar before giving him a mouth full.
SONNY’S NEW MESSAGE
Walters has found himself in the spotlight after an angry outburst during last week’s loss to Richmond.
After kicking the opening goal of the game last night, he appeared to deliver another message: “I’m not going anywhere”.
Walters grabbed his guernsey in celebration in what looked like a reaffirmation of his loyalty the Dockers, amid rumblings about his contractual situation and suggestions he may be open to a move.
STILL A DONUT
Jesse Hogan remarkably remains goalless this season after five games.
It ended up being a pretty dirty night for the one-time junior star, who went scoreless from eight disposals and three marks.
Facing his former team, Hogan played deep at times and did threaten more than his stats suggested.
He was left to rue a couple of grassed marks in the second term, including one in the goal square.
He kept trying and in the third term had a great smother and created the space for Walters to kick his second goal. Conceding a 50m penalty in the final term wasn’t a great way to finish off.
Fremantle wingman Blake Acres will face a nervous wait for the match review officer’s findings after appearing to collect Jayden Hunt in the head with a glancing high bump in the third term.
Hunt went to ground and appeared groggy before taking his shot on goal, a snap which dropped short. He came from the ground shortly after for assessment but was allowed to return to the field a few minutes later.
Melbourne’s Jack Viney lashed out at Caleb Serong with an open hand in another incident that will be looked at.