Freo give the “fortress Canberra” tag the heave ho

Fremantle have posted a shock 24 point away win over the Greater Western Sydney Giants in Canberra on Saturday. The Dockers were absolute pests in and around the contest, never letting the Giants slip into their natural, fast ball movement groove. The win was all the more impressive in how Fremantle ran out the game. They booted 6 goals in the final term and were deserved winners. Nat Fyfe, Ed Langdon and David Mundy were outstanding, particularly Fyfe who won 18 contested possessions and was responsible for much of the drive out of the centre for Freo.

The Hogan forward factor was back. Jesse booted 3 goals & took 14 marks for Fremantle. Photo: Jodie Newell

For the Giants it was their first loss at their Canberra “fortress” since 2015. They struggled to find their mojo. Despite booting 4 goals, Jeremy Cameron looked out of sorts as did Giant midfielders in Tim Taranto, Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly. The Giants defense also struggled to contain the Fremantle forwards. Jesse Hogan finally delivered the form that was keenly sought after by his new club. Hogan booted 3 goals and took 14 marks. He was ably assisted by fellow forward Matthew Taberner who also booted three goals and took 13 marks. Taberner and Hogan shared in 27 marks, a remarkable stat considering the normally solid GWS defense. Those concerning numbers will certainly be looked at and studied by other clubs defensive coaching staff.

The Tsunami resembled a pond. Josh Kelly clears the ball under pressure from the Freo midfield. Photo: Jodie Newell

In recent times the Giants Canberra home has earnt the tag “fortress” after nine consecutive victories. Deemed almost impossible to win on, Fremantle clearly came to this game without any fear or apprehension. They were full of confidence after a positive showing last week against the reigning premiers in West Coast, going down by a respectable 13 points. If Freo had disposed of the ball better, they could have won that game. That poor disposal theme dogged the Dockers early on in the Canberra game and hampered their good work in the contest and forward 50 metre areas. Their determination to find a way to play better and adjust, paid dividends. It was Fremantle’s first ever win in Canberra and it also helped consolidate their position in the top 8 of the AFL ladder where they are currently sitting 3rd (3-2).

Welcome return. Fmr Giant ruckman Rory Lobb wasn’t phased playing against his old side. Photo: Jodie Newell

Played in glorious, almost summer-like conditions, the first term got off to a pretty even start. Jesse Hogan’s start to the AFL season hasn’t been spectacular, with the new Freo recruit struggling to kick goals. He was keen to make amends and booted the first goal for his team and would follow later with another goal close to the quarter time siren. Brandon Matera also added to the goals with a handy mark and goal. The Giants defense struggled to clear the ball, with the solid midfield work of Nat Fyfe and Reece Conca forcing the ball back into the Dockers attack. Nuggety forward Brett Daniels kicked the Giants first goal, whilst Jeremy Cameron struggled to get any of the football early in the game.

Out of sorts. Despite kicking 4 goals Jezza Cameron struggled to gain consistency. Photo: Jodie Newell

Michael Walters was superb in the midfield for the Dockers, he kicked three goals and had 25 disposals, 12 of those were contested ball. For the Giants Stephen Coniglio was the standout for his side picking up 37 disposals and booting one goal. He was assisted by Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly. Nat Fyfe was back to his brilliant best and was clearly the best man on the ground. Nat scored 31 disposals with 18 being contested football. He was unstoppable in the centre bounce area and put on a clinic on how to win a clearance ball. In the ruck Rory Lobb was super competitive against his old team. Shane Mumford may have won the hit-out count 42-22, but Lobb created a positive presence around the ground and made a significant contribution to his midfielders ball supply.

Nat Fyfe was sensational in Canberra. Photo: Jodie Newell

The Giants adjusted reasonably well in the 2nd and third quarters, they even managed to eek out a slender 4 point margin at the final break, which was helped by a 3 goal effort from Giants surprise packet forward Jeremy Finlayson. However any thoughts of another Canberra victory were quickly quashed as Fremantle poured on 5 goals in a ten minute period to clutch a very impressive road victory of 24 points.

Great job Rory! Freo General Manager Peter Bell in the sheds post-game. Photo: Jodie Newell

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon thought the win illustrated the point that his side’s preparation and consistency was at an acceptable level “All day we fought hard, we got an edge, we took our opportunities. I felt our effort has been consistent all year, which has been reflective of our consistent preparation over summer and of each week. So if you prepare consistently to a high level, generally you’ll get an outcome that is commensurate with game day”.

The first time Fremantle has ever sung the club theme song in Canberra. Photo: Jodie Newell

Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron was blunt post-game “If you have to sum it up, they just worked harder. Fremantle deserved to win. They were probably the better side during the game for about 80%. When the whips were cracking they won the contest. “We didn’t turn up in the last fifteen to twenty minutes”.

It’s not working guys. Heath Shaw & co discuss the Giants game on Saturday at half-time. Photo: Jodie Newell

Next week Greater Western Sydney 6th, (3-2) venture to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the “Battle of the Bridge” game on Saturday night against the Sydney Swans 16th, (1-4) The Fremantle Dockers 3rd, ( 3-2) face the Western Bulldogs 14th, (2-3) in Perth on Saturday night.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     3.6     7.9     10.13     11.16    (82)
FREMANTLE                                4.4     8.7      10.9      16.10    (106)

Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 4, Finlayson 3, Daniels, Himmelberg, Coniglio, Buntine
Fremantle: Matera 4, Taberner 3, Walters 3, Hogan 3, Switkowski, Colyer, Lobb

Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio, Whitfield, Kelly
Fremantle: Fyfe, Mundy, Lobb, Walters, Matera, Taberner, Hogan

Greater Western Sydney: Davis (broken nose, left ankle), Kennedy (corked thigh)
Fremantle: McCarthy (illness) replaced in selected side by Cox, Cox (left leg)


Umpires: Mathew Nicholls, Brendan Hosking, Eleni Glouftsis

Crowd: 11,277 at UNSW Canberra Oval, (Manuka Oval) Griffith, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


About the Author

Jodie Newell
Love reporting on sports, politics, history and music