TWO-time Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe has been among four Fremantle stars to succumb to injury during the team’s 28-point AFL loss to the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium.
In a devastating three-minute period in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s match, Fremantle lost Fyfe (dislocated shoulder), defender Brennan Cox (hamstring), and ruckman Sean Darcy (hamstring).
Defender Griffin Logue (concussion) had already been subbed out following a sickening third-quarter collision with Aaron Naughton.
Fyfe appeared to dislocate his reconstructed right shoulder in a heavy collision, while Cox could barely walk after tearing his right hamstring.
Darcy’s own right hamstring injury wasn’t as serious, but the Dockers will now have to dig deep into their reserves to replace four of their most important players.
The Western Bulldogs led by 14 points at the time of Fremantle’s triple injury blow in the final quarter, and they went on to secure the 13.15 (93) to 9.11 (65) in front of a crowd of 32,875.
The Bulldogs were left with an injury concern of their own after ruckman Stefan Martin was subbed out at halftime with a left shoulder issue.
Star Bulldogs midfielder Marcus Bontempelli was crucial in the win with 27 disposals, seven clearances and two booming goals, while Jack Macrae racked up 35 disposals.
Naughton snared 13 marks, including five contested, in a phenomenal aerial effort.
But his goalkicking let him down badly and he finished with 1.5.
Rookie Dockers forward Josh Treacy booted three goals in a breakout game, while David Mundy tallied 30 disposals and eight clearances.
Dockers defender Nathan Wilson could be in strife after purposely striking Cody Weightman in the groin after giving away a free kick.
Fremantle suffered a pre-match blow when spearhead Matt Taberner was a late withdrawal after failing to recover from an ankle injury.
Bontempelli was on fire early as the Bulldogs registered five scores from their first five inside 50m entries.
Alarm bells were ringing for Fremantle when Bontempelli launched one from outside 50m to stretch the lead to 22 points midway through the second term.
Dockers forward Liam Henry hit back with a touch of brilliance, dribbling the ball forward before scooping down and shaking off a Caleb Daniel tackle to snap truly.
The margin was just 11 points when Henry scampered to keep the ball from going out in a piece of play that led to a Treacy goal.
But it was Bontempelli who stepped up to the plate yet again, roosting another one from outside 50m to give the Bulldogs a 16-point lead at half-time.
Treacy sent the home fans wild when he ran down Hayden Crozier on the stroke of three-quarter time and then kicked truly after the siren to reduce the margin back to eight points.
But it all went downhill for the Dockers from there as Fyfe, Darcy, and Cox were all struck down within minutes of each other early in the final term.
The injury carnage left Fremantle with just one fit man on the bench, and the Bulldogs were never troubled from that point.
(C) AAP 2021
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 6.8 8.10 13.15 (93)
FREMANTLE 2.2 4.4 7.8 9.11 (65)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: C Weightman 2 M Bontempelli 2 M Hannan 2 T Liberatore 2 A Naughton A Scott J Bruce L Hunter T English. Fremantle: J Treacy 3 A Brayshaw C Serong L Henry M Crowden M Walters R Lobb.
Umpires: Simon Meredith, Ray Chamberlain, Nathan Williamson.
Official Crowd: 32,875 at Optus Stadium.