24/04/2024

Luke Jackson was influential in Sean Darcy's absence. (Image: Fremantle Dockers)

Behind sublime performances from Caleb Serong, Jye Amiss, Luke Ryan, Luke Jackson and Andrew Brayshaw, the injury-ravaged Fremantle Dockers have started their 2024 season with a 23-point win over Brisbane.

The Dockers’ victory sends last year’s Grand Finalists to an 0-2 start for the first time since 2021, and gives them a big confidence boost to start the season.

However, they didn’t come out completely unscathed, with Oscar McDonald (left knee), Karl Worner (concussion), and Brennan Cox (right hamstring), all unable to see out the game.

Fremantle’s star midfielder Caleb Serong eclipsed a club record for disposals in a game, chalking up 46 touches along with 21 contested possessions, 10 clearances, and seven tackles. His partner in crime Andrew Brayshaw was also superb, finishing with 32 disposals, five tackles, and six clearances. They were both stellar in the coalface, outplaying Brisbane’s deep midfield.

Reliable defender Luke Ryan (33 touches, 10 marks, 12 rebound 50s, and 10 marks) controlled the air, repelling the Lions’ potent forward line with great ease.

Skipper Alex Pearce was terrific in his one-on-one duel with Joe Daniher, despite the latter being prominent early in the contest.

After a quiet start, rising star Jye Amiss (four goals) got the better of Harris Andrews, and Josh Treacy (equal career-high three goals) stamped his impact on the contest.

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The Dockers’ lack of precision hurt them early on, missing simple targets and butchering the ball going inside 50. Early in the second, the Dockers defence remained under pressure from Brisbane’s forward half game, although they were eventually able to weather the storm.

It was a repeat of Friday’s collapse against Carlton for Brisbane, watching an early deficit diminish. Fremantle played some irresistible football, slicing their way through with the middle with devastating precision, similar to their finals year in 2022.

Fremantle’s relentless pressure was typified by Luke Ryan’s spoil down back which set up a brilliant chain of handballs through Michael Frederick, Nat Fyfe, and Tom Emmett, with Emmett’s kick setting up Jye Amiss’ third goal.

Key forward Eric Hipwood and small forward Lincoln McCarthy, while quiet through the opening three quarters, gave the Lions’ hope after booting consecutive goals to reduce the deficit to 26 points. Though, as the Lions’ surge would continue, they squandered straight forward chances from Hipwood and medical sub Kai Lohmann.

The Dockers made the Lions pay for their errors, with Amiss kicking a beauty from a tight angle, before the speedy Frederick sealed the result, lighting up Optus Stadium with a running goal to get the Dockers crowd on its feet.

Fremantle are on the road in Round 2 against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, while the Brisbane Lions will have a bye.

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