Fremantle Dockers pay injury toll in impressive win over Brisbane Lions


Jye Amiss and Brennan Cox celebrate during the round one match between Fremantle and Brisbane at Optus Stadium, March 17, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

AN UNDERMANNED Fremantle overcame a false start and an evening of injury carnage to beat Brisbane by 23 points at Optus Stadium, leaving last year’s Grand Finalist with an 0-2 record ahead of an Easter Thursday rematch with winless premier Collingwood.

The Dockers were outstanding through the middle stages of Sunday’s win and piled on eight unanswered goals to set up their 14.9 (93) to 10.10 (70) win, with star midfielder Caleb Serong setting a new club record with 46 disposals in an outstanding individual performance.

DOCKERS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats

Three second-half injuries left the team counting the cost of an early-season win, however, with defenders Brennan Cox (hamstring), Oscar McDonald (knee) and Karl Worner (concussion) all left sidelined as young forward Jye Amiss escaped a knee scare.

It was a win that was otherwise full of encouraging signs for the Dockers, as a bigger and stronger midfield had the desired impact against a contender, and periods of decisive ball-movement paid off.

More than anything, however, the Dockers were gritty and determined when they didn’t have the ball, with their constant pressure efforts and ability to do the one-percenters for each other paying dividends.

Serong was the architect around the ball with his 46 touches (21 contested) and 10 clearances, with Nat Fyfe (20 and five) and Hayden Young (24 and five) adding the size around the ball the Dockers have craved, and Andrew Brayshaw (32 and six) starting the year in good touch.

With No.1 ruckman Sean Darcy sidelined, Luke Jackson stepped up to control stoppages with 30 hit-outs while also drifting forward dangerously to boot two important goals.

Jye Amiss (four) and Josh Treacy (three) combined brilliantly in attack to share in seven goals, while the backline was marshalled by Alex Pearce and Luke Ryan in a performance that should fill the Dockers with confidence as they embark on a bounce-back season.

The Lions, meanwhile, will be asking questions of themselves ahead of a Grand Final rematch, having lost their opening two games after establishing early leads before conceding disastrous runs of opposition goals. The round three bye and a 12-day break has come at an opportune time for them.

The Dockers conceded the first four goals of the game after a series of calamitous turnovers and 50m penalties left them rattled and 23 points behind after just 12 minutes.

Struggling to defend the Lions’ ball movement and unable to find their own forward-half targets, it was hard to see a way back for the home team, who had been pinned in their back half before red-time goals to Bailey Banfield and Sam Switkowski, with a brilliant snap over his shoulder, cut the margin to 13 points at the first break.

The second quarter was a purple onslaught, with the Dockers turning the screws in the midfield and turning their clearance and contested ball ascendency into a five-goal run that flipped the game on its head.

Switkowski typified Fremantle’s desperation when he sprinted and dived at full stretch to smother Joe Daniher’s kick, with the Dockers’ defensive efforts and one-percenters playing a big role in the turnaround.

The dramatic third quarter presented a window for the Lions to get themselves back into the match as the Dockers nursed injuries to Worner, Amiss and McDonald, but they were unable to take it as others stepped up for Fremantle, with Treacy presenting strongly to kick back-to-back goals while Amiss was off the ground.

By the final change, the Dockers had kicked 11 of the past 12 goals and it was hard to see a path back for the Lions, who had lacked energy and speed with the ball through the middle of the ground and were being outmuscled by the Freo onballers.

Injury carnage for Dockers
Karl Worner was the first to fall in the third quarter after courageously diving into Lincoln McCarthy’s path to attempt an intercept mark. McCarthy had no option but to contest the ball, leaving Worner nursing a head knock after leaving the ground on a stretcher. Backline recruit Oscar McDonald then fell to a knee injury, landing awkwardly and hyper-extending his left leg in his first game for Fremantle. Finally, and potentially most costly, Brennan Cox suffered a nasty looking hamstring injury in a marking contest, grabbing for his right hamstring as he fell to ground. Key forward Jye Amiss escaped a scare in a fortunate moment for the Dockers.

Walters dodges free kick for trip
Luke Jackson was lining up for a snap set shot in the pocket when Lions defender Brandon Starcevich ran off the line to try and smother his kick late in the second quarter. Walters was lining up alongside Starcevich and threw his right leg out instinctively to trip his opponent in an action that was missed by the umpires. The Dockers were awarded the crucial goal, but Walters’ actions were later highlighted on the match broadcast and will be scrutinised by the Match Review Officer. The veteran forward will escape with a fine if his actions are graded as intentional, low impact and to the body.

Lions’ midfield can’t cover Neale loss
Dual Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale had 21 clearances and 35 contested possessions across his team’s two wins against Fremantle last season, and his absence on Sunday hurt the Lions enormously. Without Neale the Lions’ midfield conceded the clearances 22-13 and contested possessions 65-58 in the first half. The Dockers’ midfield has a bigger, stronger presence in 2024, and Hayden Young and Nat Fyfe played big roles alongside Serong in outmuscling Josh Dunkley, Hugh McCluggage and Co.  

FREMANTLE        2.2   7.5   11.9   14.9 (93)
BRISBANE             4.3   4.5   5.7   10.10 (70)

GOALS
Fremantle: Amiss 4, Treacy 3, Jackson 2, Frederick, Banfield, Switkowski, Walters, Cox
Brisbane: Daniher 3, Hipwood 3, Bailey 2, Zorko, McCarthy

BEST
Fremantle: Serong, Amiss, Jackson, Ryan, Pearce, Brayshaw, Treacy
Brisbane: Daniher, Hipwood, Dunkley, Bailey, McCluggage,  

INJURIES
Fremantle: McDonald (knee), Worner (concussion), Cox (hamstring)
Brisbane: Gardiner (knee soreness), McKenna (hamstring)

SUBSTITUTES
Fremantle: Neil Erasmus (replaced Worner in the third quarter)
Brisbane: Kai Lohmann (replaced Darcy Gardiner at half time)

Crowd: 40,604 at Optus Stadium



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