COVID-hit Fremantle have flaunted their enviable depth with a crushing 78-point AFL win over North Melbourne at Perth Stadium.
The Dockers entered Friday night’s match missing six players due to health and safety protocols, including key forward Rory Lobb and defender Griffin Logue.
With injured pair Nat Fyfe and Matt Taberner also sidelined, the match represented a test of the Dockers’ reserves, especially up forward where teenagers Jye Amiss and Josh Treacy were their focal points.
Fremantle put any doubts to bed early by booting the first five goals of the match to set up the 15.12. (102) to 3.6 (24) win in front of 37,040 fans.
The final inside 50m stat read 67-32 in favor of Fremantle, with North Melbourne held to just two goals for most of the match before kicking their third with under five minutes remaining.
Fremantle’s sixth win on the trot improved their record to 7-1, and they will start hot favorites in the next fortnight when they take on Gold Coast (away) and Collingwood (home).
The Kangaroos (1-7) face a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Fremantle forward Sam Switkowski was subbed off in the final quarter with concussion after copping a knee to the head as Jason Horne-Francis flew for a mark.
North Melbourne defender Ben McKay, who starred with five contested marks, limped off in the third quarter after Josh Treacy fell onto his right knee.
McKay was in huge pain while he was assessed on the bench, and he’s set to be sent off for scans to determine the extent of the damage.
Fremantle big man Sean Darcy (17 disposals, 41 hitouts, four clearances, one goal) won the ruck battle against Todd Goldstein, while Will Brodie (37 disposals) and Andrew Brayshaw (34 disposals, 10 clearances) cleaned up at ground level.
Prized Kangaroos number one draft pick Horne-Francis finished with a team-high seven clearances, but Fremantle were clear winners in the midfield battle (48 clearances to 31) on the back of silver spoon service from Darcy.
Fremantle debutant Amiss made a dream start to the game when he shook off Aidan Corr to take a contested mark before kicking truly from 35m to post his maiden goal.
Two goals to Bailey Banfield, including a spectacular checkside, heaped more pain on the hapless Kangaroos.
A mark-of-the-year contender from Cameron Zurhaar early in the second quarter got North Melbourne on the goalsheet as the visitors launched the briefest of fightbacks.
It was all Fremantle from that point on, with the crowd unleashing a Mexican wave to add some excitement to the night.
Amiss, the first top-10 key forward drafted by Fremantle since Matthew Pavlich in 1999, finished with two goals and five marks in a promising debut.
Power keep touch with crucial win over Dogs
Recruit Jeremy Finlayson has kicked three goals to help Port Adelaide banish some of their AFL demons with a 17-point win over the Western Bulldogs.
The Power prevailed from 12.14 (86) to 10.9 (69) in Friday night’s Adelaide Oval rematch of last year’s preliminary final.
On that occasion, Port suffered a humiliating 71-point loss.
And the Power suffered painful flashbacks early when the Dogs booted two quick goals to open the scoring.
But Ken Hinkley’s team, overcoming the loss of half-back Riley Bonner to an ankle injury, rallied to notch a third consecutive win.
After losing five matches in the club’s worst start to a season, the Power are now 11th ahead of weekend games.
The Bulldogs, beaten grand finalists last year, are wobbling in 10th spot with three wins and five losses, the same record as the Power.
Port veteran Travis Boak was instrumental with 30 disposals and one goal while Connor Rozee (21 disposals) provided midfield spark with Brownlow medalist Ollie Wines (21 touches).
Ex-GWS utility Finlayson was ever-dangerous in attack, combining well with 100-gamer Sam Powell-Pepper, Todd Marshall and stalwart Robbie Gray, who kicked two goals each.
Port’s scoring spread contrasted with the Dogs who were overly reliant on Aaron Naughton, who booted 4.2.
Naughton’s teammate Bailey Smith (24 disposals, two goals) was eye-catching and Jack Macrae (32 disposals), Bailey Dale (28), Tom Liberatore (24) and Adam Treloar (23) found plenty of the footy.
In the first quarter, the visitors booted two goals in 90 seconds to trigger memories of the Power’s finals failure.
But this time, Port veterans Gray and Steven Motlop stepped in to steady their side.
Gray booted two goals, Motlop kicked one and set up another as Port scored 5.0 from just nine forays inside 50.
The spree created a 5.0 to 4.4 lead at quarter time, with Naughton kicking two of the Dogs’ majors.
Naughton’s lively attacking colleague, second-gamer Buku Khamis, kicked his first AFL goal in a tight second term when both sides added two goals.
Port held a four-point buffer at half-time, with Bulldog Macrae (19) and the Power’s Bonner (18) the leading ball-winners.
The hosts, propelled by the industrious Boak, made their move with five goals in the third quarter.
The Power were 30 points up when Finlayson slotted his third, but lost the influential Bonner to a right ankle injury.
Bulldogs ace Naughton reduced the three-quarter time deficit to 24 points, again potting two majors in a quarter.
And when Bulldogs star Smith goaled on the run early in the final term, the visitors were 19 points down.
But Port, despite an inaccurate streak of six consecutive behinds, held sway to win without scoring a last-term goal.
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