FREMANTLE was made to work but managed to capitalise on slip-ups by its nearest challengers to extend its lead on top of the ladder with a 21-point victory over Greater Western Sydney last night.
The Dockers shrugged off strong Giants challenges in the third and final terms at Subiaco Oval to all but guarantee a top-two finish for the first time in club history.
Playing without Brownlow Medal favourite Nat Fyfe for the first time this season, the Dockers extended their break at the top of the ladder to six premiership points following second-placed West Coast’s draw on Saturday night.
In a game that descended into a comedy of errors at times with some poor skills and puzzling umpiring decisions, Fremantle forward Michael Walters shone with four goals.
Dockers defender Zac Dawson played his first game for the season after overcoming serious groin and thumb injuries, but the veteran might be set for an immediate holiday.
Dawson will sweat on Monday’s findings from the Match Review Panel after throwing his right elbow back into the face of Jeremy Cameron as he lay on the ground in the first quarter.
The Giants star came from the field bleeding heavily, but was able to continue with his head heavily bandaged and finished with two goals.
Cameron had blood spattered across his face, arms and guernsey and then struggled to stem the bleeding at times throughout the match in images that won’t do Dawson any favours.
Coming into the match with an average losing margin in Perth of 96 points, it was a brave effort from the Giants, who lost Matt Buntine and Tom Downie to head knocks.
GWS coach Leon Cameron had targeted winning the contested ball fight as he set his sights on turning around the expansion’s club’s ugly record in Perth.