Dockers belt Bombers, end AFL tank talk

Fremantle distanced themselves from the tanking debate in emphatic fashion, cruising to a 79-point win over Essendon in Saturday night’s bottom-of-the-table AFL clash at Domain Stadium.

The Dockers entered the match with question marks surrounding their will to win after starting the season 0-10.

But with the prospect of the wooden spoon looming, Fremantle unleashed a goalscoring blitz to secure the 20.6 (126) to 6.11 (47) win.

The result moves Fremantle above Essendon and Brisbane into 16th spot on the table.

And although all three teams have 1-10 records, the Bombers are dead last because of their inferior percentage of 57.6.

Former Dockers tagger Ryan Crowley was cheered on by the 31,199 crowd in his first match back in Perth since being axed by Fremantle.

But it wasn’t a happy ending for the 32-year-old, who tore his right hamstring with just five minutes remaining in the match.

Crowley was given a standing ovation as he made his way to the interchange bench, with Dockers fans keen to show their appreciation for a player who gave so much to the club.

Fremantle veteran Matthew Pavlich turned back the clock with three first-half goals, while Michael Walters (three goals), David Mundy (33 disposals) and Lachie Neale (42) were also crucial.

Midfielder Michael Barlow was sensational in tight spaces, racking up 26 disposals while restricting David Zaharakis to just 11 possessions.

With Pavlich’s three-goal haul, he leapfrogs Bob Pratt into 22nd on the all-time AFL/VFL goalkicking list with 683 majors.

Essendon defender Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti faces a nervous wait after bumping Dockers forward Chris Mayne in the face.

And Pavlich might also be scrutinised by the match review panel for his open palm to the face of Patrick Ambrose.

Fremantle blitzed Essendon from the outset, booting the opening four goals within the space of 10 minutes to set the tone.

Pavlich finished the term with two goals, while Matt Taberner kicked one and took two strong marks.

The onslaught continued in the second quarter, with several horror turnovers from the Bombers costing them dearly.

Trailing by 46 points at halftime, Essendon needed a miracle to get back into the match.

Instead, Fremantle piled on seven goals to one in the third quarter to give them a chance of achieving a triple-figure win.

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