Friday, 25th September 2015
Words & Photography: Tiana Bergmans
The Dockers’ Grand Final hopes were shattered on Friday night at Domain Stadium in a heart stopping match. The Hawks came out on top with a 27 point win, and a ticket to their 4th consecutive Grand Final berth next weekend.
The first 5 minutes of the game were nothing less than electrifying! Two goals from pocket rocket Michael Walters, and tall forward Jonathon Griffin had Freo fans in hysterics. Every single member of the purple army was off their seats, yelling at the top of their lungs, it was pure euphoria. The Dockers were simply exuberant. However, a missed set shot from Chris Mayne arguably destroyed Freo’s fiery momentum, as the Hawks went on to kick 4 unanswered goals, leaving the Dockers trailing by 19 points at the first change.
To further the pain of the Dockers, superstar and Brownlow medal favourite, Nat Fyfe, took a painful knock to his lower leg. Already carrying an injury from his first contest involvement, the limping Fyfe only managed 2 disposals in the first quarter.
The second quarter was highly defensive, with few scoring shots made by either team in the quarter. Hawthorn’s disposal efficiency (84%) was dangerous. The Hawks were constantly one of the best, if not the best attacking team in the League. The Freo crowd were ignited with passion after a fantastic shot from Hill and a freakish opportunistic goal from the skipper, sending Freo chants ringing around the Stadium. The Hawks matched the Dockers, with two goals of their own, leaving the margin at 20 points at the main break.
The champion of the quarter had to be Nat Fyfe, who despite limping around the oval, managed to gather 10 disposals (at 70% efficiency), as well as two clearances and seven contested possessions. Fyfe’s dedication despite the adversity showed the mark of a true football champion.
The Dockers needed a fast start, and a fast start they got. Goal sneak Hayden Ballantyne booted a stellar goal within the first minute, ripping Freo fans off their seats. However, this was matched with 3 goals from the Visitors. Unlike the first quarter, Fremantle answered, producing 3 sensational goals, including an absolutely spectacular and surprising goal from Griffin. The Hawks had to have the last say though, with the quarter ending with a goal from Suckling. The Dockers now had only one quarter left to make up a 17 point deficit.
The fourth quarter was one of passion and intensity, that had all 41,508 fans on their feet. The Dockers managed to close the margin to a narrow 9 points. A Fremantle upset no longer seemed beyond the realm of possibility. Constant umpire intervention added to the intense atmosphere of the quarter, with too many heart stopping moments to count. Perhaps the biggest one however, was when youngster Tom Sheridan dropped a crucial mark in Hawthorn’s forward 50. Rioli made the most of the opportunity and put the Hawks back in front by 15 points.
Freo’s wounds were only pierced further, as the Hawks went and kicked another 3 goals, handing Freo what was most likely their second most painstaking loss after the Grand Final in 2013. The despair on ageing Pavlich’s face at the final siren was enough to strike at any footy lovers heart, no matter whom you barrack for. The pain and heartache was shared amongst the whole team, who despite playing a gallant game, will unfortunately rue many of the mistakes made and the missed opportunities throughout the game.
As for the winners of the game, Hawthorn naturally produced some outstanding statistics. Sam Mitchell, despite being unpopular amongst the crowd, finished off with 35 disposals. He was probably very pleased to hear tagger, Ryan Crowley was not included in the squad, as he has a history of severely shutting down Mitchell. Taylor Duryea was also fantastic, gathering 27 disposals and a goal.
For Fremantle, Spurr and Mundy worked hard in defence, each collecting 27 disposals and Fyfe was incredible, having a remarkable 24 possessions, despite barely being able to walk. Freo worked hard to tackle as well, with De Boer, Mzungu and Fyfe making 6 tackles each. Michael Walters was fantastic in the forward 50 as per usual, kicking 3 goals and applying a lot of pressure throughout the game.
Despite the loss, Freo are to be commended for a fantastic effort against some very tough opponents and for a phenomenal 2015 Premiership season, in which they finished 1st on the ladder for the first time in the club’s history.
Hawthorn will now go on to play in the most prestigious event of AFL football, the Grand Final at the home of football, the MCG. They will either face 8th North Melbourne (unlikely) or Fremantle’s western counterparts, the Eagles, who if successful, will be vying to take the coveted cup out of Victoria and although they’d never admit it, avenge the Dockers. Despite being fierce cross town rivals, they are ultimately both two proud West Australian clubs.