Ross Lyon and Phil Walsh are both hard-edged – not the types to get misty-eyed over footy.
But the Fremantle and Adelaide coaches are revelling in having given their beloved sport a rare modern-day highlight.
Lyon and Walsh let their midfield stars Nat Fyfe and Patrick Dangerfield lock horns for most of Fremantle’s 11-point win in Adelaide on Saturday night.
The battle between two of the competition’s finest was captivating.
For the record, Fyfe gathered 40 disposals and kicked a goal while Dangerfield had 38 disposals and a goal.
“You might call me old-fashioned but that is how I like footy,” Adelaide’s Walsh said.
“When I went to the footy as a young guy … we’d watch great player versus great player. And that is what we saw tonight, I thought it was great.
“Maybe I’m a weirdo. I want to win … but I also think we have to protect the game.
“And I think one thing fans love is those great battles and tonight was a great example of that. Everybody walking away would be talking about Fyfe v Dangerfield.”
Fyfe had 26 contested possessions, Dangerfield 29; Fyfe had 10 inside 50s, Dangerfield six; Fyfe six tackles, Dangerfield eight; Fyfe 14 clearances, Dangerfield nine.
“I thought Fyfe and Dangerfield all night was a great match-up, both played great,” Fremantle’s Lyon said.
“We both let it roll and backed our players in.
“We acknowledge Dangerfield was getting a fair bit (possession) and we we thought we would just let it sit.
“We didn’t want to go negative … so we just stuck it out and we were happy with the outcome.”