Collingwood answered some critics over matching it with the AFL’s top teams but couldn’t quite finish the job against Fremantle with the Dockers winning a thriller by seven points at Domain Stadium.
Collingwood have only beaten one team in the top eight this season, an undermanned GWS, but had the measure of the Dockers for much of the night in a terrific contest.
The ‘Pies threatened to break the game open in the early stages of all four quarters, but the Dockers continued to fight back and ended up winning 12.8 (80) to 11.7 (73) to consolidate top spot and an 11-1 record while Collingwood slipped to 8-4.
It wasn’t a good night for the key forwards with Collingwood’s Travis Cloke and Jesse White, and Fremantle’s Matthew Pavlich and Jack Hannath, all goalless.
Dynamic Fremantle small forward Michael Walters proved the difference, kicking four goals, while Alex Fasolo was Collingwood’s only multiple goal scorer with two in the first half.
Nat Fyfe was again superb for Fremantle with 32 possessions and two goals while Lachie Neale had 32 disposals (14 clearances), Stephen Hill 24 (two goals), Garrick Ibbotson 23, Chris Mayne 22 and Clancee Pearce 22. Aaron Sandilands had another 50 hit outs.
Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury worked hard for 25 possessions, but 17 came in the first half while Taylor Adams finished with 29 disposals, Dane Swan 26 (10 clearances), Ed Langdon 24 and Marley Williams 22.
Travis Varcoe was outstanding in his 150th AFL game, not only shutting down Hayden Ballantyne but having 15 creative disposals.
Fremantle trailed by just two points at the main break with a late goal to Walters.
It continued to be goal for goal in the third term with Walters’ third goal with six seconds left levelling the scores at the last change.
After substitute Paul Seedsman put Collingwood five points in front at the 13-minute mark of the last term, Fremantle took control with the last two goals to Michael Barlow and Walters to win by seven points.