Dockers survive almighty fright from gallant Hawks
Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe made a triumphant return to senior football as Hawthorn suffered heartbreak for the second week in a row after giving the Dockers an almighty fright on Saturday.
The Hawks were magnificent in defeat, their hustle and pressure forcing one of this year’s leading premiership contenders to dig deep into their reserves to get over the line.
The game was still in the balance with minutes left on the clock but a moment of magic from Andrew Brayshaw, who soccered a goal under heavy pressure, was enough to see the men in purple home by 13 points.
Behind for much of the first half, the Dockers made their move in the third term, kicking six goals in the so-called premiership quarter for the third week in a row.
Their win was soured by what appears to be a significant hamstring injury to wingman Blake Acres, who was emotional on the bench.
Blake Acres appeared emotional on the bench. Credit:Getty Images
Once the initial disappointment fades, Hawthorn supporters will draw consolation that their side brought the heat and dragged the Dockers out of their comfort zone.
They beat the Dockers at their own game, outscoring them by 26 points on turnover. Though the Dockers had 123 more possessions, seldom were they able to move the ball with fluency such was the intensity with which the Hawks attacked the ball carrier and shut down space.
Ned Reeves celebrates a goal. Credit:Getty Images
Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell led the way for the Hawks in the midfield, but weight of numbers told in the end for the Dockers, who had nine of the top 11 possession-getters.
The absence of key forwards Mitch Lewis and Jack Gunston robbed the Hawks of firepower inside 50 though misses from close range by Jackson Callow and Conor Nash were costly in a game of fine margins.
Caleb Serong, pictured kicking the ball, was a stand-out. Credit:AFL Photos
Fyfe can be satisfied with his first senior game in almost 11 months, improving as the game wore on. Playing a split forward/midfield role, the dual Brownlow medallist collected 21 possessions, of which only five were kicks, and kicked a goal in the third term.
The smarts which he displayed for that goal – staying down while his opponent Kyle Hartigan went third man up at a marking contest near the goal line – showed he can be a weapon in attack now that the Dockers no longer rely on him in the midfield.
“Touch wood I have got through OK, although I’m sure I will be a bit stiff in the knees and shoulders tomorrow,” Fyfe told Fox Footy. “We have four or five days off now, and I’ll spend most of it in the ice baths [recovering].”
Caleb Serong was arguably the best on ground, his ability to win the ball on both the inside and outside a problem the Hawks could not solve.
RARE REEVES WIN
Ned Reeves did not have the greatest day against Sean Darcy but the young Hawks ruckman had a big win in the last quarter, out-muscling the Dockers’ enforcer to take a clutch contested mark deep in attack and boot a vital goal. Darcy, who claimed the honours on the day with 16 possessions and six clearances to go with his 37 hit-outs, had a late injury scare, hurting his right ankle in a strong tackle from Reeves, though he was able to return to the field.
Michael Walters’ 300th goal was one of the highlights of the day in a game where the Dockers struggled for fluency in their play.
Count ’em: Michael Walters. Credit:Getty Images
His milestone moment was befitting of the exciting career he has had, finishing a coast-to-coast play in which the hosts ran the ball up the guts with a dribbling kick on the run. The man known as Sonny becomes only the second Docker in the club’s 28-season history to reach 300 behind the great Matthew Pavlich, whose mark of 700 looks likely to stand the test of time.
Fremantle: Serong, Brayshaw, Cox, Ryan, Acres, Darcy, Young.
Hawthorn: O’Meara, Mitchell, Sicily, Moore, Wingard.
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