Sport AFL Freo frightened by Carlton close encounter

Freo frightened by Carlton close encounter

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Fremantle overcame the early loss of skipper Matthew Pavlich to post a gutsy five-point win over Carlton in Thursday night’s AFL clash at Patersons Stadium.

The Blues led by two points with less than four minutes remaining when a 50m penalty against Dockers defender Zac Dawson gifted Jarrad Waite his third goal.

But, with less than a minute remaining and the Dockers deep in attack, a poor clearance from Carlton ruckman Cameron Wood fell into the arms of Dockers youngster Lachie Neale just 30m out from goal.

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Neale made no mistake with the finish, nailing the set shot to lift Fremantle to the 12.11 (83) to 11.12 (78) triumph in front of 35,401 fans.

The win lifts Fremantle up to third spot on the table, but they might slip back to fourth by the end of the round.

So close! Simon White feels the pain of a close shave. Photo: Getty

Importantly, the result keeps them in touch with pacesetters Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong.

Fremantle lost Pavlich early in the second quarter after the skipper copped an accidental elbow to the face while tackling Carlton’s Nick Graham.

Just 12 days earlier, Pavlich had been dealt another heavy blow to the face when he was cleaned up in a marking contest in the shock loss to St Kilda.

The Dockers were also without Tendai Mzungu for most of the match after the utility injured his hamstring in the second quarter.

Fremantle goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne (three goals) finished with a flurry, but the star of the night was Nat Fyfe, who had 28 possessions, two goals and 13 clearances.

Fyfe racked up five clearances in the pulsating final term as the game went down to the wire.

Dockers tagger Ryan Crowley and Blues skipper Marc Murphy could come under scrutiny from the match review panel for a series of skirmishes throughout the contest.

And Blues defender Bryce Gibbs could also be in trouble for his needless elbow to the back of Ballantyne’s head as the pair fell to the ground in a marking contest.

Carlton midfielder Chris Judd was magnificent in the first half.

But Judd’s influence was limited from then on after 120kg Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands landed on his ankle in the opening seconds of the third quarter.

Best in the west: Dockers enjoy post-match celebrations. Photo: Getty

Fremantle had spent the past 12 days stewing over their shock 58-point loss to St Kilda, but they still seemed a touch off the ball during a free-flowing opening term.

Judd carved up the Dockers through the middle with nine disposals and a goal, while Murphy’s freak goal from the boundary line also had the visitors daring to dream of an upset.

But the class of Fyfe, who booted two goals for the term, ensured Fremantle entered the first break with a five-point lead.

Goals were hard to come by in a ferocious second quarter, with bruising tackles and desperate lunges the feature.

The Blues dominated the third quarter, but late goals to Ballantyne and Michael Barlow kept Fremantle in the contest.

And in a thrilling final quarter in which the lead changed three times, it was the Dockers who had the last laugh despite being two men down on the interchange