Fremantle have secured a home final after overcoming a bad case of the goalkicking wobbles to post a 24-point win over West Coast in a spiteful western derby.
All-in melees and individual tit-for-tats were common throughout Saturday night’s rain-affected match at Optus Stadium but Fremantle booted 4.11 to 2.3 after halftime to secure the 9.17 (71) to 7.5 (47) win in front of 53,816 fans.
The result means Fremantle can’t finish lower than sixth, and they can still secure a prized top-four berth if they beat GWS next week and other results fall their way.
Dockers ruckman Sean Darcy won the Glendinning-Allan medal as best field for his 16-disposal, 57 hit-out effort.
Blake Acres (29 disposals, one goal), Will Brodie (28 possessions, seven clearances), and David Mundy (25 disposals, eight clearances) dominated in the midfield courtesy of Darcy’s dominance.
But despite snaring the win, doubts still remain about Fremantle’s ability to thrive in the wet.
The Dockers entered the match having lost to Gold Coast, Collingwood and Melbourne in slippery conditions this year and they were unable to put West Coast to the sword despite the Eagles missing 10 first-choice players.
Fremantle’s wayward goalkicking ensured West Coast remained within striking distance for most of the match.
But it was the defensive duo of Tom Barrass and Shannon Hurn that truly epitomized West Coast’s fighting spirit.
Barrass (20 disposals, 12 marks) restricted Rory Lobb to just 0.1 from seven disposals, while Hurn racked up 28 touches and nine rebound 50s.
Lobb was subbed out late in the match after aggravating his right shoulder injury in the third quarter.
The match was a willing contest befitting a derby with a huge melee breaking out in the opening quarter in what will no doubt result in a flurry of ends.
Caleb Serong was target No.1 early on, with Jack Redden doing his best to ruffle the feathers of the Fremantle star.
The tactic worked a treat, with Serong the core culprit when Fremantle gave away a 50m penalty that led to a goal on the line to Redden.
Redden gave away a 50m penalty of his own late in the opening term to gift a goal to Andrew Brayshaw.
Jackson Nelson targeted Brayshaw at every opportunity, with the Brownlow medal fancy visibly frustrated at times.
An early downpour ensured the first half was played in slippery conditions and the Dockers led by four points at the long break.
Fremantle dominated the third term but their return of 2.8 meant the 17-point margin was still within reach for West Coast.
However, with Darcy dominating the ruck, the Eagles couldn’t work their way back into the match despite fighting right until the end.