Melbourne’s 17-match winning streak is over with Fremantle reeling in a five-goal deficit to pull off a momentous 38-point upset win at the MCG.
The loss leaves the Demons just a win ahead of the Brisbane Lions, who defeated GWS by 14 points earlier on Saturday.
Geelong also enjoyed a win with a seven-goal defeat of Adelaide, while the Western Bulldogs thrashed West Coast by 101 points and Gold Coast scored a 67-point victory over Hawthorn.
The Demons were cruising towards an 11-0 start in 2022 after leading by 30 points late in the second quarter before Fremantle slammed through the last 10 goals of the match to make an almighty statement.
The Dockers, who were coming off disappointing defeats to Gold Coast and Collingwood, produced an eight-goal third-quarter burst to stun the reigning premiers.
Justin Longmuir’s team led by 17 points at the final change and soaked up Melbourne’s pressure to run away winners, 14.10 (94) to 7.14 (56), kicking 13 of the last 14 goals.
It was Melbourne’s first defeat since losing to the Western Bulldogs in round 19 last year.
Melbourne was rocked by the early loss of superstar defender Steven May, who was subbed out at quarter-time following a friendly fire collision with fellow premiership backman Jake Lever.
In a major blow for the Demons, May will miss next week’s clash with the Sydney Swans under the AFL’s concussion protocols.
But Melbourne’s downfall and Fremantle’s revival did not primarily stem from May’s absence as the Dockers ran riot around the clearances to embarrass the Demons’ all-star midfield unit.
The Demons’ defensive structure was undoubtedly rocked without May but Andrew Brayshaw, Will Brodie, Caleb Serong and Sean Darcy set up the comeback out of the middle.
Brownlow Medal favorite Clayton Oliver had 24 disposals by half-time but was kept quiet after the main break as the Dockers reigned supreme.
Oft-maligned ruck-forward Rory Lobb kept the Dockers in the contest early, booting two of Fremantle’s first three goals and asserting himself around the ground.
Lachie Schultz finished with a match-high four goals, Lobb kicked three, while the exciting Michael Frederick booted two and had an influential role in setting up many others, including a classy tap-on late in the third term.
The performance confirms Fremantle (8-3 win-loss record) as a genuine premiership contender, adding to the rare win they secured in Geelong in round seven.
The only downside for the Dockers was important forward Matt Taberner being subbed off in the final term for Bailey Banfield.
The Dockers face another massive challenge next Sunday when they host second-placed Brisbane in Perth.
Lions rally to beat Giants
Brisbane overcame a first-quarter blitz by GWS to claim a win over the Giants at the Gabba.
The Lions, who trailed by as much as 30 points as the Giants kicked eight goals in the first term, took control over the next three quarters of Saturday’s game to run out 16.14 (110) to 15.6 (96) victors.
Lincoln McCarthy kicked four goals for the Lions while key forward Dan McStay booted a double on his return from an ankle injury.
Lachie Neale and eye-catching youngster Deven Robertson also notched two majors each for the hosts.
Toby Greene finished with four goals of his own for the Giants while James Peatling repeated his efforts from last week against West Coast with three majors.
Josh Kelly, with 31 disposals, six clearances and two goals, was arguably the visitors’ best while five other Giants picked up over 20 disposals.
Jesse Hogan also bagged a double for the visitors.
Jarrod Berry (33 disposals, one goal) was hugely influential in the Lions’ midfield while Neale was all class, adding a game-high 39 disposals and six tackles to his two goals.
The win comes after last weekend’s shock five-point loss to Hawthorn by the Lions and lifts Chris Fagan’s team to 9-2 for the season.
The anticipated responses from that loss to the Hawks didn’t come in the early stages as the Giants piled on six goals in the opening 20 minutes.
When Greene kicked his third of the quarter the Giants were five goals clear before McCarthy took his own tally for the term to three for the Lions to be just two goals down at the first break.
In a first-quarter shootout, a combined 14 goals from just 27 inside 50s were kicked.
GWS were also forced to sub out Callan Ward after the midfielder suffered a concussion in a contest with Eric Hipwood where the Giant caught Hipwood’s knee to the side of his head.
Having settled after their slow start, the Lions flexed their muscle across the next two quarters and hit the front for the first time early in the third term when McStay was gifted his second goal of the day via a 50m free-kick.
Brisbane never looked back from that point, Robertson providing a highlight reel moment with his second goal of the day before Brandon Starcevich and Neale hit the scoreboard with long bombs from outside 50 to have a 21-point margin at the final turn.
The Giants’ refused to go away in the final term and when Hogan kicked his second with five minutes to play, the margin was just nine points in the Lions’ favour.
McCarthy’s fourth of the day settled the home fans’ nerves as the Giants drop to a 3-8 record.
Bulldogs humiliate Eagles in the west
Western Bulldogs ruckman Tim English has made a stunning return from injury and illness to lead his side to victory over hapless West Coast in Perth.
English had been sidelined since round five after a hamstring injury was followed by a serious bout of the flu that required hospitalization.
But the 24-year-old showed no ill effects from those ailments, tallying a career-high 25 disposals to go with eight clearances, and 28 hitouts in the 25.11 (161) to 9.6 (60) rout in front of 31,838 spectators.
Such was the Bulldogs’ dominance, they ended the match with 16 individual goalkickers, an equal record in VFL/AFL history.
West Coast was reportedly interested in luring English to Perth, but the 207-centimeter tall ruckman is set to re-sign with the Bulldogs.
And on the evidence presented in Perth, English’s star is set to burn brightly over the coming years.
He dominated even in the air against West Coast’s inexperienced ruck duo, and acted as an extra midfielder at times with his outside run.
Star forward Aaron Naughton booted four goals and Josh Dunkley (25 disposals, two goals) was also critical as the Bulldogs gave their percentage a much-needed boost.
The Bulldogs’ third win on the trot their season win-loss record to 6-5 and lifted them into the top eight, while West Coast (1-10) remained mired to the foot of the table.
The Eagles lost star defender Jeremy McGovern midway through the second quarter due to a back injury.
West Coast forward Jack Darling bounced back to form with four goals — his highest tally of the season — while Tim Kelly (38 disposals, 11 clearances, one goal) was influential in the midfield.
Suns overpower Hawks in Top End
Gold Coast is just one match outside the top eight after dismantling Hawthorn in its comfortable win in Darwin.
Three first-half goals for Mabior Chol, an outrageous finish from hometown hero Joel Jeffrey and a starring 24-disposal, two-goal, best-on-ground display from Brandon Ellis helped the Suns cruise away for their fifth win of the campaign.
They kicked nine of the first 11 goals, with the Hawks unable to overcome their sluggish start.
It turned into a genuine party for the Suns, with Malcolm Rosas enjoying his time back on home turf with three goals.
It was a third win in four matches for the Suns, and with North Melbourne, Adelaide and Port Adelaide on deck in the next three weeks, they are emerging as a genuine finals contender.
Ben Ainsworth had the first goal of the match when the Suns found room on the counterattack.
Rosas quickly found another before Izak Rankine’s third pinched them at 19-1 break inside 15 minutes.
Hawthorn’s Luke Breust got his side on the board soon after with a clever snap, but a Chol set-shot kept the Suns 18 points clear at the first break.
The Suns’ power forward struck twice in the second term as his team broke away, but a long bomb from Jeffrey brought the house down and gave his side a 40-point advantage.
The hits kept coming as a sizzling Touk Miller delivery let Levi Casboult hit the scoreboard, with even two late Hawthorn goals only keeping them within 41 points at the half.
Ainsworth snapped home a second late in the third for a 55-point lead, from a free kick after Jarman Impey appeared to knee him in the back off the ball, while Rosas’s second took the margin past 10 goals.
Ellis was best for the Suns but he got plenty of support with Miller (24 disposals) and Lachie Weller (27) among their best.
It was a poor night for the Hawks after their upset of Brisbane last weekend and they have now lost five of their past six matches.
Tom Mitchell was in magnetic form with 29 touches, while Chad Wingard was his side’s only multiple goal kicker with two majors.
Cameron on song as Cats Trump Crows
Jeremy Cameron kicked four goals to help Geelong strengthen his claims for a top-four spot with his victory over Adelaide.
Heavily favored at home, the Cats ran a strong challenge during the third term to prevail 15.7 (97) to 7.13 (55) at Kardinia Park.
The result gave them consecutive victories for the first time since rounds three and four, and improved their win-loss record to 7-3 ahead of a bumper clash with the Western Bulldogs next Friday night.
Aside from Cameron’s match-high haul, Former Crow Tyson Stengle booted three goals in his first appearance against the club that axed him and Gryan Miers matched his tally, with Tom Hawkins adding two.
Brandan Parfitt (30 disposals), Cam Guthrie (34) and Joel Selwood (24) were busy in the midfield and Tom Atkins laid 17 tackles.
Tom Stewart (40 disposals) was outstanding in defence, where young tall Sam De Koning was also impressed with another assured display.
The 21-year-old felt a brief scare through the Geelong camp when he clutched at his left knee during the final quarter but waved away trainers and played on.
Adelaide dominated the clearance battle (32-16) in the first half but it did not translate to territorial dominance as Geelong’s defense proved hard to penetrate.
The Cats enjoyed a 61-36 advantage in inside-50s.
Recalled after a week in the reserves, Adelaide ruckman Reilly O’Brien fought hard in a losing cause with 28 disposals, 24 contested possessions, 46 hit-outs, nine clearances and seven tackles.
Young forward Darcy Fogarty booted three goals for the Crows.
Rory Laird (38 disposals) and Ben Keays (28) racked up big numbers but the visitors lost defending Jordon Butts after he fell heavily in a third-quarter marking contest.
posted , updated