Fremantle pipped a gallant Adelaide by 11 points on Saturday night to remain unbeaten this AFL season.
The Dockers, with Michael Walters potting three goals, won 10.8 (68) to 7.15 (57) at a rain-soaked Adelaide Oval.
Fremantle star Nat Fyfe was outstanding in an engrossing personal duel with Adelaide linchpin Patrick Dangerfield, who was also superb.
Despite standing against each other, the duo were clearly their respective side’s best players – Fyfe finished with 40 disposals and a goal while Dangerfield collected 38 touches and a goal.
Their personal stoush was a fascinating sub-plot to a match which featured a fast start from the Dockers: they kicked the initial three goals to shock the parochial 45,918-strong Adelaide crowd.
Fremantle’s flow was halted by Adelaide’s Eddie Betts, who slotted a checkside goal from the boundary line.
The Crows added two more majors for a 3.4 to 3.1 lead at quarter-time before both sides could muster just one goal each in the second stanza.
Adelaide’s goal was another top-shelf Betts special: on the 50m line and pinned to the boundary, the wizard launched an audacious left foot torpedo which bounced through.
The Crows led by six points at halftime but Fremantle rallied in the third, kicking a defining five goals to three to steal into the lead.
Forwards Walters and Pavlich slotted two each for the quarter but the visitors were just four points in front at the last change.
A tense scoring stalemate ensued: it took until the 18th minute for the first goal – a precocious checkside on the run from Docker Michael Barlow, which proved the sole major of the term.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon lauded the work ethic of his side to achieve a slogging victory.
“We were pretty emphatic after halftime,” he said.
“The ball lived at our end in the last quarter but we couldn’t score efficiently.
“But good teams dig in and find a way.”
Adelaide coach Phil Walsh lamented some errant goalkicking, particularly early, which cost his side.
“I don’t like losing, the guys gave a good enough effort to win the game so I’m extremely disappointed,” he said.