WEST Coast has maintained its recent dominance over Fremantle with a hard-fought 13-point win at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
The Eagles jumped out of the blocks and held the Dockers at arm’s length, running out 10.9 (69) to 7.12 (56) winners.
It was West Coast’s eighth successive win over their cross-town rival and sees the reigning premier improve to 3-1 on the season.
Fremantle’s appetite for the contest couldn’t be questioned, underlined by the fact that they won the contested possession count 152 to 130, but their lack of polish forward of centre ultimately brought about their undoing.
Andrew Gaff, playing against Fremantle for the first time since breaking Andrew Brayshaw’s jaw, backed up his 35-possession performance against Collingwood in round three with another 35 disposals. He was well-supported by Jack Redden (33) and Elliott Yeo (30 and nine inside 50s).
The Eagles’ defence was superbly led by skipper Shannon Hurn who claimed the Glendinning-Allan medal as best afield for his 32-possession, eight-mark display and Brad Sheppard (27 and 14 marks).
Tom Barrass and Jeremy McGovern provided invaluable support, the pair combining for 20 marks.
Up forward, Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy kicked three goals each while speed machine Jack Petruccelle chipped in two majors.
For Fremantle, David Mundy stepped up in the absence of superstar skipper Nat Fyfe (concussion) with 36 possessions and 10 clearances, while Ed Langdon (28 disposals) was also prolific.
Matt Taberner worked hard all night but let himself down in front of goal, booting an inaccurate 2.3 from among his 20 possessions and eight marks, while Brad Hill (18 disposals and five inside 50s) and Brayshaw (22 and six inside 50s) were key to the Dockers’ second-half resurgence.
Fremantle were up for the fight from the outset. They outpointed West Coast in the clinches (42 to 32 in contested possessions) and had the same number of forward entries as their opponent.
Despite doing a lot right, the Dockers found themselves 26 points in arrears at the first change, with their finishing skills going inside 50 and in front of goal leaving a lot to be desired.
While Ross Lyon’s men couldn’t put one through the big sticks, West Coast had no such trouble with Petruccelle kicking two of the Eagles’ five majors for the term.
Fremantle’s haphazard delivery into the forward line played into the hands of West Coast’s interceptors and they had to wait until the 11-minute of the second term to get the first goal of the game with Taberner kicking truly.
It appeared to be a matter of how far for West Coast when Kennedy put through his second early in the third-quarter to extend the Eagles’ advantage out to 29 points.
But with Mundy, Hill and Brayshaw showing their class with ball in hand, Fremantle fired back with a goal from Jesse Hogan – his first for his new club – and two from Cam McCarthy to close to within 10 points.
Fremantle’s good work was undone when a Reece Conca turnover deep in defence resulted in a goal to Oscar Allen in the shadows of three-quarter time.
With goals hard to come by all night, the first major of the final stanza was going to be crucial.
Darling’s third at the 15-minute mark seemingly put the game beyond the Dockers’ reach, but Fremantle hit back through Taberner before Walters made it two in a minute to cut the deficit to 14 points with five minutes and change left on the clock.
The Dockers were riding a wave of momentum but the wind was taken out their sails when Hill’s snap on goal curled into the post, Kennedy making the Docker pay as he ran into an open goal to ice the game.
West Coast will look to make it three wins on the bounce when they tackle Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium on Good Friday while Fremantle will take on a Greater Western Sydney outfit high on confidence following their breakthrough victory over Geelong at Canberra Oval on Saturday.
WEST COAST: 5.1 6.3 8.5 10.9 (69)
FREMANTLE: 0.5 1.9 4.12 7.14 (56)
WEST COAST: Darling 3, Kennedy 3, Petruccelle 2, Ryan, Allen
FREMANTLE: McCarthy 2, Taberner 2, Walters 2, Hogan
WEST COAST: Hurn, Gaff, Sheppard, Redden, Yeo, Barrass
FREMANTLE: Mundy, Langdon, Taberner, Brayshaw, Hill
WEST COAST: Nil
FREMANTLE: Hamling (concussion)
ATTENDANCE: 58,219 at Optus Stadium