Patrick Lipinski of the Bulldogs looks on during the Round 5 AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Western Bulldogs.
Patrick Lipinski of the Bulldogs looks on during the Round 5 AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Western Bulldogs.

Fyfe dominates as Dockers down demoralised Dogs

FREMANTLE will take an unbeaten record at its new home fortress into next Sunday's western derby after the Dockers' most complete performance of the season against the Western Bulldogs.

On a night thick with emotion, the Dockers recorded a comprehensive 54-point win over the disappointing Bulldogs, 16.12 (108) to 8.6 (54), at Optus Stadium.

With spearhead Matt Taberner breaking down early, it was an occasion for the little men as Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne combined for seven goals to propel the Dockers to their highest score for the season.

Captain Nat Fyfe led from the front with his most compelling personal performance since his Brownlow Medal season in 2015. It featured 43 possessions, 13 clearances and a goal, with his disposal tally a new career-high.

It eclipsed the 40 touches he had in his epic duel with Patrick Dangerfield at Adelaide Oval three years ago.

Fyfe was well supported by Walters, who finished with a bag of five in an electric outing on a night he paid tribute to late former teammate Shane Yarran.

Dashing defender Nathan Wilson was also influential, driving the Dockers from the back half as he recorded 10 inside-50s.

The mismatched ruck battle between Aaron Sandilands and WA youngster Tim English went more or less as predicted. The Fremantle veteran monstered his much lighter opponent in the hitout battle, though the athletic English did some good work around the ground and finished with nine marks and a career-high 19 disposals.

Brandon Matera of the Dockers celebrates a goal.
Brandon Matera of the Dockers celebrates a goal.

The first Len Hall Game Anzac ceremony at the new venue got the evening underway on a sombre tone and the emotion continued when play began.

Returning Bulldog Tom Boyd was swamped by each of his teammates on the field when he slotted an early goal, as he played his first AFL game since Round 13 last season. The 2016 premiership hero took leave from the club last year to deal with mental health issues.

The next goal was kicked by Walters, one of the Fremantle players who was closest to Yarran. Walters pointed to the black armband on his left arm and then to the sky as he remembered his former teammate, who died on Friday.

The rain began to tumble at the start of the second quarter. It made Fremantle's 16-point buffer suddenly look bigger but the Dogs got the first two goals of the quarter to keep it tight.

The ball looked slippery in the hands of nearly every player except one. Fyfe. He handled the wet ball as well as he did the dry one as he continued his imposing game.

The Fremantle captain had 21 touches and eight of his clearances by halftime, with the Dockers rewarded for their persistence with goals to David Mundy and Brandon Matera in time-on which restored a handy buffer at the main break.

Tom Boyd is gang-tackled on a dirty night for the Dogs.
Tom Boyd is gang-tackled on a dirty night for the Dogs.

Both teams had already lost a man for the night, with Taberner's bright start snuffed out by a lower leg problem and Bulldogs forward Tory Dickson hurting a hamstring.

Cam McCarthy relished the greater responsibility as he became a target in the third term, kicking one goal but missing another couple of opportunities.

It wouldn't matter, as the home side locked the ball in their attacking half for most of the quarter as they added six goals to one to seal the result by the final change.

When Boyd got his second just before three-quarter time, it ended a run of eight consecutive majors for the Dockers but was far too little, too late for the visitors.


LIVE stream the 2018 Toyota AFL Premiership on FOX SPORTS. Every match of every round LIVE in HD, with no ad-breaks siren-to-siren! Get your 2-week free trial now.