Fremantle have moved into fourth spot on the AFL table after thumping Brisbane by 83 points in wet and windy conditions in Perth.
Fremantle’s premiership bid continued to gain momentum after the Dockers surged into fourth spot with a ruthless 83-point win over Brisbane in Saturday night’s AFL clash at Patersons Stadium.
In wet and windy conditions, the Dockers put Brisbane to the sword with a nine-goals-to-zip opening half before cruising to the 15.15 (105) to 3.4 (22) victory.
Brisbane’s halftime score of 0.1 (1) was the equal lowest in VFL/AFL history since 1953, when the Fitzroy Lions went scoreless in their round-three clash with Footscray.
Embarrassingly, Brisbane’s single point for the half was a rushed behind.
Their first goal of the match didn’t come until six minutes into the third quarter, when Dockers defender Zac Dawson had the ball slapped out of his hands after failing to realise his mark hadn’t been paid.
Brisbane scored three goals in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to avoid their lowest score against Fremantle (previously 35) and their biggest loss against the Dockers (formerly 71).
Fremantle’s only concern out of the match was Dawson’s clumsy late hit on Lewis Taylor, which could attract the attention of the match review panel.
Dockers forward Hayden Ballantyne backed up from last week’s six-goal effort with another five, while midfielders Lachie Neale, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy and Michael Barlow were supreme.
Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff (44 disposals) battled manfully, but he was a lone ranger.
Fremantle were given a double dose of good news before the match when top-four rivals Geelong and Collingwood both stuttered to losses.
The Dockers started the match with a percentage of 125.3.
But that figure was boosted to 134.2 by the end, bringing Fremantle closer to top-two rivals Sydney (135.4), Hawthorn (145.7) and Port Adelaide (148.5).
Fremantle will start favourites against West Coast, Melbourne, GWS, St Kilda and Carlton over the next five weeks, with the soft run giving them an excellent chance to climb even higher on the ladder.
The Lions could barely get the ball inside their own forward-50m in the opening half, let alone score.
With Brisbane failing to fire a shot, the only thing that hurt Fremantle was friendly fire.
A stray arm from Ballantyne caught Matthew Pavlich flush on the nose, with the Dockers’ skipper forced to wear unflattering bandaging to stem the bleeding.
Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands also copped a whack – a falcon to be exact – when the Sherrin slipped through his fingers and hit him square on the noggin.
The Dockers led the inside-50m count 41-5 at halftime, and also dominated possessions (207-112) and clearances (29-14).
If there was a mercy rule in the AFL, it would have been activated to spare the Lions further pain.
Brisbane finished the match with just 17 inside-50s – a record low since stats were recorded.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon wasn’t getting carried away with the win, even though it was the lowest score the club had ever conceded in its 20-year history.
“I don’t take any extra pleasure out of it,” Lyon said.
“We did what we needed to do. Let’s acknowledge where Brisbane’s at.
“They’re a young team. In 2008, we kicked one goal against Adelaide. The wheel will turn for them.”
Lions coach Justin Leppitsch conceded his players were smashed by Fremantle’s bigger, harder bodies.
“That second quarter was probably the real downer,” Leppitsch said.
“The big difference was the contested (possessions) and the bodies and the contest work and the stuff we really have to do around our clearance work.”