As it was my birthday I was always going to get to this game, even though I was pretty much certain that I'd see Freo lose again. I wasn't disappointed. Possibly the most important factor in this game was the gale-force wind that was howling across Waverley. When we arrived, I was pretty much insistent that we find a seat sheltered from it. It was only after we were seated, and watching the goalposts swaying slowly in the breeze, that I began to wonder if that was such a good idea; the possibility that maybe most of the play would head in the other direction having finally dawned on me.
Peter Mann was back to his brilliant best for this game. His performance was probably best summed up by Rohan Connolly in The Age: Peter Mann won about his only contest for the day - the coin toss. To be fair to Mann, strong marking was never going to be a feature of this game, given the conditions, and most of the other big forwards seemed to struggle as well. Given St Kilda's tall forwards (Heatley, Loewe, Everitt) and the absence of O'Reilly from the Freo backline, it was probably just as well for Freo.
Freo kicked with the breeze in the first quarter, and although they went into the break 6 points up, and had probably had slightly more of the play, it was looking pretty obvious that they hadn't done enough with it. The fact that the Saints midfielders were trying to bomb the ball long into their forward line, and almost passing the ball as they ran forwards and the ball blew backwards would have been both encouraging and discouraging for the Dockers. On the one hand, St Kilda were not playing very intelligently, but on the other, Freo had only 6 points to show for kicking with a six goal breeze. A highligh of this quarter was when Stewie very cleverly handballed to Dale Kickett, who was able to rush the ball up to Freo's forward line.
Freo did their best to make up for that with a tight effort in the second quarter. They seemed to use the ball far more effectively into the wind than they had with it. Running at players, drawing them, and using handball well gave them a chance, and they were only two goals down at half time.
The third quarter was probably where the Dockers lost the game. Winnie, Waterhouse and Spider all missed relatively easy shots at goal. Waterhouse, in his usual consistent fashion, finished the game with one goal, one point and one out on the full. Winnie might have to take a fair amount of blame, though. He finished the match with four points, and if even two of those hand been full-pointers, the game could have been Fremantle's.
Kicking into the wind in the final quarter, and 2 goals down at three-quarter time, the game did look to be a foregone conclusion, and by about the 10 minute mark of the quarter, when Stewie decided not to handball, and kicked a goal, it was looking even worse, with Freo 27 points down. But Freo fought back, with Hunter, Callaghan, and finally Waterhouse goaling. Waterhouse's goal was a particular highlight, being another Waterhouse, soccered special, curling into the top corner. All of this meant that with two minutes to go, Freo were within 7 points. St Kilda woke up to themselves then, and were finally able to put on another goal, and the game was all over.
As he had done last week Shane was able to contain a dangerous forward primarily by psyching him out. Shane's man this time was former Subi team-mate Jason Heatley, who managed only one mark, and one goal, for the entire game, despite the fact that he was frequently able to get away from Parker. To be fair, the wind probably did most of Parker's work for him. Final Score : St Kilda 12.5-77 defeated Fremantle 9.10-64
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