Josh Kennedy booted seven goals to help West Coast overcome an early scare in their 46-point AFL win over Fremantle in Sunday’s western derby at Domain Stadium.
The Dockers threatened to cause a derby boilover after opening up a 15-point lead midway through the second term.
Fremantle had dominated the contest up until that point, and their lead would have been even bigger had they cashed in on some gettable chances on goal.
But West Coast booted nine of the next 10 goals to run out 17.8 (110) to 9.10 (64) winners in front of 36,215 fans.
Kennedy won the Ross Glendinning medal as best afield.
His match-winning haul took his season tally to 67 – six goals ahead of Sydney’s Lance Franklin and Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch in the race for the Coleman Medal.
The win moved West Coast (13-6) into sixth spot on the ladder.
But with games against premiership fancies GWS (away), Hawthorn (home), and Adelaide (away) to round out the season, West Coast face an uphill battle to earn a home final.
Fremantle (3-16) remain mired to 16th spot on the ladder.
But their performance was much better than last week’s 90-point loss to Sydney.
Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui tallied seven disposals, 26 hit-outs, and a goal in his first game back from Achilles tendon surgery.
Dockers ruckman Aaron Sandilands, playing his first match since breaking several ribs in round three, made a strong start before fading to finish with 12 disposals and 23 hit-outs.
Fremantle utility Tom Sheridan tallied 16 disposals and two goals while keeping West Coast ball magnet Andrew Gaff to just 19 touches and a late goal in a strong tagging effort.
Dockers forward Michael Walters could come under scrutiny for his high bump on Eagles midfielder Matt Priddis.
Kennedy booted two goals in the opening term, but it was the Dockers who controlled the bulk of possession as the underdogs went into the first break holding a six-point lead.
If alarm bells weren’t ringing for West Coast yet, they were early in the second quarter as Fremantle’s dominance became even more pronounced.
Goals to Sheridan and Shane Yarran extended the margin to 12 points.
And if Chris Mayne and Matthew Pavlich had kicked truly shortly after, West Coast would have been left in a massive hole.
Instead, a goal against the run of play to Naitanui, followed by two quick goals to Josh Hill, swung the momentum West Coast’s way.
And three goals to Kennedy in the third quarter put the contest to bed as West Coast ran rampant.