They couldn’t win for his 350th but the Fremantle Dockers farewelled their greatest ever player, Matthew Pavlich, in style with a shock AFL win over the Western Bulldogs.
The Dockers won just their fourth match of the season on Sunday as Pavlich played his 353rd and final game while bringing up his 700th career goal along the way.
Fremantle won 10.9 (69) to 6.13 (49) in what was a dead rubber for the Bulldogs after Hawthorn earlier escaped with a one-point win over Collingwood at the MCG.
The Bulldogs finish seventh and will return to Perth to take on West Coast in an elimination final on Thursday September 8.
Tory Dickson kicked three goals and Clay Smith two, while Matthew Boyd worked hard for 35 possessions and Luke Dahlhaus collected 31.
Tom Boyd also returned after hurting an ankle early but coach Luke Beveridge found it hard to take any positives for the Bulldogs.
“Unfortunately for probably the first time all year there can’t be a positive coming out of the game for us,” Beveridge said.
“We still wanted to finish the home and away season on a positive note, but nothing went right.
“There was just too many skill errors and our energy wasn’t where it normally is and we are going to need a significant correction to be any sort of force in the upcoming finals series.”
It was the opposite at Fremantle.
While the Dockers have had a horror season after being minor premiers in 2015 they take some positivity into the off-season by farewelling Pavlich in style.
Pavlich notched his 700th goal in the first quarter before missing three set shots in the last term, but it was still the Dockers’ day as Lachie Neale amassed another 36 disposals to break the AFL’s season record.
Danyle Pearce also had 31 touches, Stephen Hill 30, and Garrick Ibbotson 29 in a strong defensive performance.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was happy for a pleasing finish after a tough year.
“I was really pleased, the emotional hook for Matthew was really important for us,” Lyon said.
“The players committed to play with passion and hardness at the ball for four quarters.
“With six players under 20 games, that’s not always achievable to the end. But I thought the players executed that really well.”