Freo in surprising top-four contention - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Freo in surprising top-four contention

By Joseph Sapienza 07/08/2006 06:13:56 AM Comments (0)

On the verge of the AFL finals for only the second time, Fremantle can now focus on an unlikely top four finish after a commanding 53-point victory over Hawthorn at Subiaco Oval.

The Dockers' 14.20 (104) to 7.9 (51) win was their first over the Hawks in four years and all-but cemented their place in the top eight.

On a crowded ladder five teams are now on 44 points, with an eight-point gap back to ninth-placed Geelong, and Fremantle only trail fourth-placed Sydney on percentage.

Dockers coach Chris Connolly though was only interested in the team's short-term goals.

"We're looking to make the finals and win a final," he said.

"I said after the Collingwood game there's not much difference after the top three, and the last three weeks have kind of reinforced that.

"(With) the way the cookie crumbles with the draw, we've got a tough road and the positive there is it puts us in good shape if we're good enough to qualify for the finals."

But the performance of Jeff Farmer and Justin Longmuir in the forward line, who combined to kick an impressive 8.2, plus the fact their last three games are at home, fourth place is within the Dockers' reach.

Fremantle was in control all whole day against the young Hawks and led by a considerable margin at every change.

The home side's advantage was 32 points after just one quarter and while the Hawks steadied somewhat in the second and third terms, the Dockers kept the visitors goalless in the final stanza to close out the game.

During the week Dockers assistant coach Mark Harvey said he felt Hawthorn didn't rate Fremantle's midfield.

After being crushed in the clearances by Hawthorn in round one, Fremantle turned the tables to grab first use of the ball and provide its forward line with quality service.

"It was our number one focus today - centre clearances," Connolly said.

"(Assistant coach) Michael Broadbridge, who runs our midfield, has done a hell of a lot of work with our players, (with) extra training sessions and certainly a lot of analysis.

"With everyone weighing in, particularly at the centre clearances, the positivity rolled into (other areas around the ground) too so it was a big bonus."

Dockers midfielder Matthew Carr was instrumental in the win as he held Luke Hodge to only 10 possessions.

Connolly rated Carr as "arguably our best player today".

Hawks coach Alistair Clarkson admitted the Dockers got off to a strong start, but was pleased with Trent Croad's effort on Matthew Pavlich.

"That's our problem, we need the strength, the body and the experience of somebody like a Croad in our forward line and our back line," he said.

"We worked really hard in the second and third quarters to get ourselves back into the contest. We missed a couple of crucial goals that just could have made the game a little bit more interesting at three-quarter time."

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