Fremantle v Geelong – The Mongrel Review


The scene of two of the greatest wins in Freo’s history, round 7 last season to kick start a finals run and the famous Qualifying Final in 2013 en route to their only Grand Final appearance have a worthy addition to the list with a gritty seven point win against the odds at the Geelong fortress. 

Fremantle were the better side all day despite the high stakes for the reigning premiers and with some cleaner ball movement inside forward 50, might’ve been further ahead at halftime, before a thrilling last quarter saw them victorious to snap a four-game losing streak. 

An entertaining game of fluctuating control ended with a massive upset, five of the more intriguing stories out of the game are covered in more detail below:



Fremantle’s midfield mainstays, Serong and Brayshaw, have been good all season long, but the supporting cast have lacked the imagination of 2022 to date. Meanwhile, the Cats have missed their all-time great Joel Selwood’s influence, and have lacked some pace and class compared to their stunning 2022 model.

The two Freo young stars were again at the top of the disposal tally, sharing fifty-seven touches, sixteen tackles and two goal assists. Serong was the more influential throughout the game though, constantly winning the hardball with a game-high 17 contested possessions and seven clearances including four in the centre.

A big difference for the purple haze today was a more prominent midfield role for Hayden Young, who shares some attributes with the highly credentialed Jordan Dawson, who moved from attacking HBF to midfield star. His presence added some speed and class, and while his overall numbers were slightly below his season average, his impact was more important, especially with his three clearances versus fewer than one on average.

Geelong, meanwhile, continued to struggle to replicate their winning on-ball formula from last year, as Brisbane, Hawthorn and Richmond will attest, you can’t replace ‘hall of famers’ easily. Tom Atkins was typically industrious and won seven clearances along with five tackles and was a good contributor, but the diminished output of their skipper Dangerfield is being keenly felt and while he still contributed three goal assists, his dominant periods are fewer and for shorter periods of time.

The Cats, much like Richmond, hoped to regenerate their centre-square combination with imports and Tanner Bruhn was a good player with 23 hard-fought disposals, often winning the ball in contested situations, however, he doesn’t have the ability, or it still developing the ability of the great onballers to find space and time to progress the ball to the advantage of their team. Jack Bowes was unfortunately almost invisible, his seven touches coming from 73% game time, and his most important contest late in the final term resulted in a demoralising effort to allow James Aish to take a strong mark deep in the backline.



Enormous respect to Chris Scott who today usurped the fabled Reg Hickey with his 305th game coached for Geelong in an incredibly successful reign at the club. This result was not fitting for such a milestone, and he’ll be doing plenty of soul-searching about where this leaves his charges’ chances of defending their crown.

It was surprising to not see him try to shake up the central midfield mix after they appeared very one-paced. The insertion of Miers, Rohan, Stengle, or even a repeat of last week’s Stewart experiment might have provided some impetus to get a sustained run of forward ball to their key targets.

Justin Longmuir has endured a horror run, with his team described as boring and without ideas, while others wanted to know what this football club stands for. To his credit, he was able to generate a fearsome and sustained attack on the ball for the full four quarters. Breaking even in tackles even with 36 more disposals, and winning contested possession and clearances by over 10.

The subtle change in game plan, by inserting some speed with Young and Aish into the middle, led to their ability to move the ball wide and then funnel through the middle where they set up several scoring opportunities throughout the game.

Six goals shared between their mosquito fleet, Michael Walters, Lachie Schultz, Sam Switkowski and Michael Frederick, his second a masterpiece as he outmanoeuvred Stewart and kicked truly from an impossible angle, returned to the winning formula of last year.

A vastly improved output from Liam Henry – perhaps spurred into action by his coach’s declaration that he is a flight risk, and in particular his pace worried the Cats as he sliced through their defensive structure to set up dangerous attacking moves.



While these two teams have traditionally been very well represented in the All-Australian side, only Caleb Serong currently features in the AFLCA Champion player top 20 votes, perhaps indicative of their chances to wear the prestigious blazer.

While Serong won’t have lost any friends on the selection panel with another excellent showing, his teammates Andrew Brayshaw and Luke Ryan might have done just enough to have their names added to the conversation for their respective positions.

The Cats most likely players of the season, were all down on their best, and perhaps that credit goes to the Fremantle coaching team who did appear to target the key parts of their machine. Gryan Miers was well down on his usual production, 66% down on his disposal average and 15% down on average score involvements.

Tom Stewart was very good, his 25 touches, 11 marks, and 766m gained putting him probably in the conversation for his side’s best player, but had a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers deep in defence that led to Freo goals, and Frederick getting off the hook twice to score while matched up to him brought his performance down.


With the decision to put Sean Darcy on ice for the rest of the year, the ruck battle in this game saw a clash of similarly athletic types in Luke Jackson versus the two-pronged Geelong brigade with Stanley & Blicavs. The Cats dominated the hit outs 54-23, but Jackson got on top at ground level after a poor first quarter.

The Fremantle follower won 14 possessions and a game-leading eight clearances (five from the centre bounce) from this point, as he stimulated multiple attacking thrusts, in comparison his opponents could only manage seven touches combined in the same period, obviously exacerbated by Blicavs serious hamstring injury.

Jackson had the chance to make a big statement early in the final term, pushing hard forward to mark 40m out straight in front. He misjudged the time allowed though, forced to play on and not making the distance. In the wash up I think both he and the club will be disappointed with his output this season, particularly considering the premium paid to acquire his services, but it’s a long game for a talent in their early 20s, although I’m not convinced of his best position yet. He looks outstanding at times as the running ruckman, but rarely wins the taps.


Nothing quite excites a footy fan more than when the big name key position stars shake hands before the game to indicate they will be manning each other during the match. The besieged Fremantle captain, Alex Pearce took on one of the toughest jobs in footy, trying to limit the impact of Tom Hawkins at Kardinia Park, while Luke Ryan drew the short straw nominated to attempt to stop Jeremy Cameron.

Pearce took the responsibility, as a leader should, and played one of his finest games in a 100+ game career, repeatedly spoiling Hawkins and quelling promising attacking movements with his intercept marking. Hawkins finished with just five touches, albeit two fine goals from contested marks as he lowered his colours to the gloriously hirsute Docker skipper.

Ryan had his hands absolutely full with the jack-in-the-box Cameron who threatened to recapture his early season form with two early marks and shots on goal. The two misses were indicative of the dangerous Cat’s day, however, as he finished with one goal from six scoring shots, and several others that failed to hit the scoreboard. The former Maribyrnong Park mature-age recruit made the most of these let-offs, collecting 28 disposals and a team-high 644m to be an important contributor for his team all day.


And to wrap up an unexpected result, five quick ones to celebrate Fremantle’s fifth-lifetime victory at Geelong’s home ground:


Jye Amiss – the Rising Star fancy was badly outpointed early by contemporary Sam De Koning in a marking contest while holding a better position, this was reversed later in the game as the young key forward pushed back harder and elevated early to mark and kick truly.

Sam Sturt – there’s something about the Fremantle #1, he’s not overly fast, and he’s not overly tall, but he finds good space and uses the ball neatly, best illustrated by finding Josh Corbett in congestion during a second-quarter thrust.

James Aish – the three-club journeyman is not renowned for his fearsome attack on the player or ball, but he displayed four or five inspiring efforts in the desperate last term. A courageous contested mark on the last line from an errant Cameron snap, was followed up by repeated defensive endeavours where he threw his body at the ball on the ground and in the air in the frenetic dying moments.

Dislike – While technically correct, I greatly disliked the umpiring decision to set up Geelong’s first goals of the game. Alex Pearce took the first of his intercept marks for the game, and Tyson Stengle was well within the protected zone when the umpire called a premature play on, then awarded the holding-the-ball decision despite common sense indicating it was a premature call to call play-on.

Zach Guthrie – for so long he was a footnote on the Geelong team sheet, seemingly selected as a companion pony for his AA older brother, Guthrie has developed into a very good AFL player in the past couple of seasons. Again one of his team’s best, his reliability was one of the few shining lights on a dark day for his coach’s big day.


Where to from here?

Geelong have gone from back in the premiership hunt two weeks ago to being in danger of missing the finals altogether. A meeting, fortunately on their beloved home deck against Port Adelaide could determine their qualification to even attempt to defend their title. Blicavs will almost certainly miss the next few games with his hamstring injury, while the only player of note to return is Jed Bews.

Fremantle have a flicker of hope now to make something of a disappointing campaign and host the Brisbane Lions next Sunday. Brennan Cox, Will Brodie and Nathan Driscoll will be in contention for selection, but young tyro’s Neil Erasmus and Corey Wagner are doing all they can to retain their place in the winning team.


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