Fremantle coach Mark Harvey has moved quickly to play down the Dockers’ finals prospects despite their stunning seven-point win over defending premiers Geelong at Subiaco Oval on Sunday.
The Cats led by 21 points when Gary Ablett kicked his fourth goal late in the third term and while Stephen Hill quickly pegged one back for the Dockers, the visitors still entered the final change with a 14-point lead.
But Fremantle, led by a brilliant five-goal performance from skipper Matthew Pavlich and Hill’s midfield brilliance, soared to a famous 18.17 (125) to 17.16 (118) win with a six-goals-to-three final quarter.
The Dockers are 3-0 and sit second on the table ahead of Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash with St Kilda at Docklands but Harvey is having no talk of finals football just yet.
“You won’t hear me talking about it or the players,” Harvey said.
“You cannot judge right now.
“I’m being realistic.
“But we are pleased with what we’re doing at the moment.”
Cats coach Mark Thompson refused to speculate whether the Dockers are a genuine finals contender.
“A bit early to tell I think. It’s only round three,” Thompson said.
“But they couldn’t have started any better.
“‘I’d like to think we can be better than that next time we play them.
“I didn’t think we played our best football when it really mattered most.”
The Cats were without key players Matthew Scarlett, Cameron Mooney and Brad Ottens but Thompson says their absence had little effect.
“It’s no excuse,” he said.
“We had 22 players out there and we should have played better.
“The guys that took their spots played all right and there was probably people who should have lifted and played better and there was some guys who played average.
“I don’t think it makes any difference if Scarlett and Mooney were there or not, it’s not an excuse for us to lose.
“We should never lose games when we’re 14 points up at three-quarter time.”
Ablett (four goals, 33 possessions) was scintillating in the opening half and Paul Chapman (three goals, 28 possessions) was just as influential for the Cats.
But the Dockers had more winners across the park, with Pavlich (26 possessions, five goals), Hill (23 possessions, two goals), Anthony Morabito and Aaron Sandilands (37 hit-outs) outstanding.
The Cats’ 28-year-old debutant James Podsiadly finished with 17 disposals, 11 marks and 2.2 in a promising first-up performance.
“I thought he was a bit nervous but he showed enough,” Thompson said.
“He marked some balls in crucial contests and kicked a very important goal for us.
“The fact his first game is out of the way is going to help him and we expect him to play a fair bit more of AFL football.”
Podsiadly’s goal at the 26-minute mark of the final term put the Cats a point ahead but the Dockers finished the match with a flurry, with two rushed behinds, a point to Hill and a goal from Paul Duffield sealing the result.