Freo defence to the fore against Crows

Fremantle 1.4 3.9 8.13 12.18 (90)Adelaide 3.2 4.5 5.6 7.8 (50)
Goals: Fremantle: M Pavlich 3, N Fyfe 2, P Duffield, T Sheridan, H Ballantyne, N Suban, Z Dawson, D Pearce, C Mayne. Adelaide: C Cameron 3, P Dangerfield, B Martin, J Jenkins, B Smith.
Best Fremantle: L Spurr, D Mundy, A Sandilands, N Fyfe, P Duffield, S Hill. Adelaide: S Thompson, R Sloane, B Smith, C Cameron, D MacKay, R Douglas.
Injuries: Fremantle: M Johnson (knee). Adelaide: B Smith (corked thigh) M Jaensch (concussion) M Wright (concussion) replaced in selected side by C Ellis-Yolmen.
Umpires: Dean Margetts, Matt Stevic, Sam Hay.
Official crowd: 35,389 at Patersons Stadium.

Fremantle was at its defensive best in its 40-point win at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.

Its 12.18 (90) to 7.8 (50) win over the Crows was also the Dockers' third consecutive victory and they move to fifth on the AFL table as their season gains momentum.

Conversely, the Crows' seven goals simply wasn’t good enough return for their 51 inside-50 entries and they are now under some pressure to maintain touch with the top eight.

With Taylor Walker, James Podsiadly and Josh Jenkins waiting down there and with Eddie Betts at their feet, that number of opportunities would usually spell trouble for any opposition.

But with Luke McPharlin, Michael Johnson and Zac Dawson rotating through the Dockers defence, scoring is never easy.

At half-time, Walker had just 0.2 from nine possessions and four marks, Podsiadly had not hit the scoreboard and Jenkins had touched the ball only once.

It didn’t get any easier; the trio kicked 1.2 between them for the game.

Betts had loomed dangerous early and he led the Crows' tackle count with six, but had also failed to score a goal, finishing with just one point.

It was the unlikely forward Charlie Cameron who kept Adelaide in the game at the main break.

The Crows led by two points on the back of his three first-half goals.

The Dockers' poor kicking helped Adelaide’s cause. Fremantle had 10 set shots at goal in the first half for a return of just 3.9.

When All-Australian Johnson was subbed out of the game at half-time with a knee injury, the Dockers could have been excused for thinking they had blown their chances.

But after half-time they controlled the game.

They had 223 possessions to the Crows' 128 after the break.

Most of the run from the home side also came from defence.

Lee Spurr not only kept Betts goalless, but he had 32 possessions of his own. Paul Duffield was also prepared to run forward and got a couple of shots at goal away as well.

And he wasn’t the only Dockers backman to get on the scoreboard.

After watching David Mundy, Nat Fyfe and Stephen Hill miss gettable shots in the third term, Dawson pushed into attack and nailed one himself.

It was just his seventh goal in 128 games and it was also the one that took the margin to 17 points, the biggest of the game, and broke the contest open.

Jenkins copped a massive spray from coach Brenton Sanderson at the final change and he responded just after resumption in the final term with a goal.

It took the margin back to 19 points, but it was the closest Adelaide got.

Scott Thompson was the Crows best with 28 touches, but he had little help, especially with Ryan Crowley manning Patrick Dangerfield.

Dangerfield ran forward in the first term, kicked a goal and had a hand in another and looked likely to cause problems.

But Crowley was off the field in that time and order was quickly restored when he returned – no matter which part of the ground Dangerfield took him.

The weight of numbers running through the Dockers midfield was also too much.

Hill’s delivery into attack, particularly in the third term, was outstanding and Fyfe and Mundy were also at their best in that term. They showed exactly why the Dockers must be nervous, with the latter pair still out of contract.

Anyone who thought the Dockers were going to struggle to get back into a position to challenge for the flag must now reconsider.

They are now in a strong position to push for a spot in the top four.

Their run over the next seven weeks does not include an opponent currently in the eight.

They have experienced players coming back from injury in that time, including Scott Gumbleton who played his first game for the season in the WAFL on Saturday after injuring his hamstring in the pre-season.

Adelaide must beat North Melbourne next weekend to keep in touch with the top eight.

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