Nat Fyfe didn’t appear to get out of first gear in Fremantle’s two-point NAB Challenge win over inaccurate Adelaide at Mt Barker on Sunday.
But with 26 possessions, 10 clearances and two goals, the Brownlow medallist was the difference between his side winning and losing. Of those touches, 17 were contested.
The Dockers kicked six goals to the Crows’ four after halftime to earn them a 1.9.6 (69) 8.19 (67) win – two late goals from the boot of Nick Suban sealing the victory.
Former skipper Matthew Pavlich was sidelined for the second half as a precautionary measure with ice packed onto his hamstring.
“Pavlich just tightened a little,” said Fremantle coach Ross Lyon.
The Crows had their chances early in the game to set up a match-winning lead and late in the game to steal it.
A Richard Douglas snap with less than two minutes to go got the margin back to within a kick.
But it was inaccuracy in front of goal which cost the Crows, who had 27 scoring shots to the Dockers’ 16.
At half-time, Adelaide led by four points, despite having seemingly controlled the run of play.
They had been inside attack 10 more times than the Dockers (27 to 17) and had eight more scoring shots (15 to eight).
But three of their top five goal scorers from last season weren’t playing and the gaps they left were glaring.
Their top two from 2015, Eddie Betts and Taylor Walker, plus Charlie Cameron, could have made life tough for a strong Dockers defensive line-up.
Brad Crouch, Sam Jacobs and Scott Thompson were also notable absentees.
Of the Dockers’ first three goals, one was from a 50m penalty and another from a free kick.
The key player missing from their attack was Hayden Ballantyne, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury, while Michael Walters wasn’t having his usual impact.