Rival coaches Ross Lyon and Chris Scott tried hard to avoid the superlatives when asked to assess Nat Fyfe’s pivotal role in Fremantle’s 44-point demolition job on Geelong.
But what they did say still spoke volumes about Fyfe, who edged his midfield cohorts David Mundy and Michael Barlow for best afield honours.
“I thought it was a pretty even team performance, but I know Nathan played pretty well,” said Fremantle coach Lyon.
“He is pretty special in the air.
“I thought the longer it went, the better he got.
“He dominated the last quarter.
“They are great signs.”
They were great numbers as well for Fyfe, who had 36 possessions, three goals and a game-high three contested marks in the 15.14 (104) to 9.6 (60) triumph.
“Don’t ask me, ask the guys who play against him,” said Geelong mentor Scott.
“They rate him pretty highly.
“They thought he was the best player in the comp last year (when he won the AFLPA most valuable player award) and based on the last couple of weeks it’s hard to argue with.”
The Dockers broke the contest open in the third quarter at Simonds Stadium on Sunday when they outscored the home team by seven goals to two.
Only a late goal from Mitch Clark prevented the Dockers from bettering their biggest-ever winning margin over Geelong, which remains at 45 points set back in 2002.
Having been bounced out of last year’s finals series in straight sets, the Cats have now lost four straight games for the first time in nine years.
Sunday’s 44-point loss also saw them start a season with an 0-2 win-loss record for the first time since 2004.
“It’s two weeks in a row we’ve played really top-line midfields, and right at the moment we’re not as good as they are,” said Scott.
“We need to have a really good think about the mix of players we have in there, how we coach them, and how we adjust.”
Brownlow medallist Jimmy Bartel (concussion) will return for next week’s home clash against Gold Coast, while fellow midfield star Steven Motlop is almost certain to come straight back in after serving a club-imposed ban for drinking alcohol three days before the round-one loss to Hawthorn.
The Dockers have started the season with two impressive victories over Port Adelaide and the Cats, leaving them in great shape heading into next weekend’s derby against West Coast.
The two-way running of the Fremantle midfield was central to both wins.
“We think we are a really good running team, which everyone does, but it is strength of mind as well,” said Lyon.
“We worked hard over the summer, so when you reach for the work, it is there.”
The only downside for Fremantle on Sunday was a final-quarter knee injury to tall utility Zac Clarke.
Geelong onballer Billie Smedts was reported in the fourth term for striking Docker Lee Spurr with his forearm.
RARE RUN OF LOSSES FOR GEELONG
Qualifying final: Hawthorn 15.14 (104) bt Geelong 10.8 (68) at MCG
Semi-final: North Melbourne 14.14 (98) bt Geelong 13.14 (92) at MCG
Rd 1: Hawthorn 17.21 (123) bt Geelong 8.13 (61) at MCG
Rd 2: Fremantle 15.14 (104) bt Geelong 9.6 (60) at Simonds Stadium