Footy can be a simple game when you stick to the basics, as Freo showed at the 22 minute mark of the opening quarter with a well-worked goal that began in their own defensive line. The West Australians moved the ball quickly and cleanly forward through a chain of passes, eventually finding Brandon Matera, who slotted home with the minimum of fuss.
It was the Dockers’ second goal of an uninspiring first quarter in which Ed Langdon had put the visitors in front before David Zaharakis levelled in the 15th minute.
The Dockers enjoyed the bulk of early possession, but it was the Bombers’ inaccuracy when presented with chances that meant they went to the first break trailing by six points.
TIPPING THE BALANCE
With just six goals scored between the two sides by the long break, this game was never going to be remembered as a classic.
Both teams struggled to impose themselves on the contest: there were too many misplaced passes, too many inaccurate kicks and too many fumbles with the ball.
Even the most diehard fans at times might have rather wished they were at home watching the election coverage on the basis that it might have been more riveting.
The Bombers could thank livewire small forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti for the fact that they were able to get their noses fractionally (two points) in front at the half-time interval after the Dockers had initially stretched their quarter-time lead with a goal to Darcy Tucker.
McDonald-Tipungwuti bobbed up twice to lift his side with goals that emphasised his commitment and ability to improvise.
The first came when he scrambled well to snap from an angle in the left forward pocket, the second from a similar angle after he showed strength to take a mark when Tucker tried to shove him out of the way.
SHOT TO PIECES
After the mercurial Jake Stringer had kicked Essendon’s third goal in a row from a handpass by Joe Daniher, both sides spurned straightforward chances to add to their tally.
Matera, who had been on target in the first quarter, missed a very gettable shot that would have put the Dockers on the tails of their opponents.
Then Stringer contrived to hit the post when he would have been expected to notch a routine score, and shortly after his teammate Josh Begley also missed.
It was left to McDonald-Tipungwuti to show them how it was done when he kicked his third, although in truth he was so close to the goal-line he could barely miss. David Mundy then banged one home from distance to keep the visitors in the hunt.
SHIEL BE RIGHT
Bombers spearhead Joe Daniher was having a night to forget: he had the perfect opportunity to give his side a breathing space early in the final term when awarded a free kick following an Alex Pearce challenge, but missed with his set shot, bringing his tally for the night so far to 0.4.
Fortunately for Daniher and his teammates, Dylan Shiel proved a bit more accurate shortly afterwards, converting after Pearce’s poor clearance surrendered possession in a dangerous area. It was the former GWS midfielder’s first goal in red and black.
When Shiel snapped his second goal of the game midway through the final quarter it pushed Essendon’s lead out to 20 points, and when Aaron Francis goaled it looked all over.
But the Dockers kicked three in a row to ensure a nervous finish for the red and black faithful.
ESSENDON 1.3 3.7 5.11 8.12 (60)|
FREMANTLE 2.3 3.5 4.9 7.11 (53)
Goals: Essendon – McDonald-Tipungwuti 3, Shiel 2, Francis, Zaharakis, Stringer.
Fremantle – Matera 2, Mundy, Tucker, Langdon, Hogan, Walters.
Best: Essendon – Mcdonald-Tipungwuti, Stringer, Hurley, Shiel, Merrett.
Fremantle – Mundy, Pearce, Conca, Fyfe, Lobb.
Umpires: Stevic, Nicholls, Whetton.
Crowd: 29,176 at Marvel Stadium.