Prized recruits Patrick Dangerfield and Harley Bennell shone brightly for their new clubs as Fremantle came from behind to post a 12-point win over Geelong at Domain Stadium on Saturday.
Dangerfield tallied 23 disposals and two goals in the first half of the AFL practice match to put Geelong in the box seat for victory in stifling conditions.
But two late supergoals from Danyle Pearce and Lachie Weller got the Dockers over the line, with the home side winning 2.9.11 (83) to 0.10.11 (71) in front of 8624 fans.
Bennell had been grounded for most of the summer because of a calf injury.
But the former Gold Coast bad boy made an instant impact against the Cats, tallying 17 disposals, one goal, and three score assists before being rested for the final term.
Bennell will front up for WAFL side Peel Thunder next week, but he’s still no guarantee to play in the round-one clash with the Bulldogs given his limited preparation.
“He impacted the scoreboard, and I thought he had some really sharp hands,” Dockers coach Ross Lyon said of Bennell.
“I thought he was selfless. His intensity at times could maybe be a bit better. I don’t know.
“I think his teammates enjoyed playing with him, and he enjoyed playing with them.
“Ultimately that’s the measure isn’t it. When you go down the race you want to be able to trust someone.”
Although Dangerfield tired in the second half, he still finished the match with 30 disposals, eight clearances, and seven inside 50s to be best afield.
And Geelong’s midfield will be even more potent once Dangerfield links up with skipper Joel Selwood, who has recovered from a foot injury and is on track to play in the round-one blockbuster against Hawthorn.
Cats youngster Nakia Cockatoo is almost certain to miss the start of the season after being placed on report for a slinging tackle on Michael Johnson.
Cockatoo pinned Johnson’s arms before slamming his opponent to the ground.
Johnson, whose head made heavy contact with the turf, was dazed and wobbly as he was carried off the ground by two trainers.
The Dockers trailed by 11 points with less than eight minutes remaining, but two late supergoals and a major to Chris Mayne on the siren sealed the win.
Cats veteran Jimmy Bartel failed to appear after quarter time following a heavy knock to the head.
But Geelong director of coaching Simon Lloyd said Bartel passed the concussion test and was fine.
“He’s up, walking around, chatting to players and having a joke,” Lloyd said.
Cats forward Lincoln McCarthy, ravaged by foot injuries in recent years, booted three goals in a promising display.
Both sides entered the match with near full-strength teams.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands was a notable omission for the Dockers, while the Cats were without captain Joel Selwood, Daniel Menzel, Corey Enright and injured forward Mitch Clark.