Good signs for Dockers in thrilling win over Pies
FREMANTLE'S Hill brothers have been forced to wait to join forces, but they celebrated their union in style with influential roles in the Dockers' thrilling pre-season win over Collingwood at Rushton Park in Mandurah.
Stephen and Bradley Hill amassed a total of 49 possessions and kicked three goals between them, as the Dockers' midfield rebounded after having their colours lowered by West Coast last weekend.
Elder brother Stephen starred with 29 touches and a goal as the temperature in Mandurah soared to 37.6C during the game.
A fine return from ruckman Aaron Sandilands was another positive as he and reigning Doig Medallist Lachie Neale had smooth first outings. Their inclusions enabled Fremantle to show off their first-choice centre square set-up as the pair teamed up with Nat Fyfe and David Mundy.
The Dockers won the clearance battle and eventually prevailed, with Ed Langdon kicking a goal after the siren to give Fremantle a two-point win in the JLT Community Series fixture.
Langdon kicked truly with his set shot from 48m, provoking wild scenes in the crowd and joyous on-field celebrations from the Dockers.
But Fremantle's forward line for the round one showdown with Geelong remains a riddle, with Shane Kersten yet to deliver a performance that would demand selection.
The Geelong recruit finished goalless from four disposals, having dropped a couple of marks in the second quarter before sitting out the second half after copping a head knock. With Matt Taberner and Michael Apeness both left out, it was a show of faith from the Dockers in new recruits Kersten and Cam McCarthy.
Michael Walters kicked three goals, with ruckman Jonathon Griffin and matchwinner Langdon getting two apiece.
The new rule banning the third man up in ruck contests was in the spotlight early when Neale had to run away from the ball to avoid being penalised. With the wind pushing a boundary throw-in well wide of the ruckmen, Neale got out of the way because non-ruckmen are barred from touching the ball until it hits the ground.
The teams booted three goals each in the opening quarter, before the efficient Magpies worked their way on top with the first three goals of the second term.
The visitors kicked added four goals to one for the second quarter, however the Dockers remained in touch thanks to a nine-point supergoal from Bradley Hill, his second major of the match.
The margin had stretched to 18 points early in the third term when Walters kicked a stunning goal on his left from hard against the boundary line, giving the Dockers a lifeline after American Mason Cox had kicked his second goal of the game.
It was the spark Fremantle needed, as Fyfe and Neale took control at the stoppages to help power the Dockers four goals in six minutes and five in a row in a purple patch that turned the game on its head.
Griffin kicked two third-quarter goals, tightening his grip on a position as Sandilands' back-up for the season opener as youngster Sean Darcy spent most of the day sitting on the bench and Apeness was left out altogether.
The Dockers turned a 12-point half-time deficit into a 15-point lead at the final change before the tide turned again as Alex Fasolo got his second and Jeremy Howe landed a supergoal to start the final term. It took until after the final siren, but in the end the Dockers would not be denied.