Fremantle beats AFL defending champion Swans
PERTH, Australia (AP) — The Fremantle Dockers took advantage of a preliminary final at their home ground in Western Australia to dominate defending champion Sydney and beat the Swans 14.15 (99) to 11.8 (74) Saturday and advance to their first Australian Football League championship match.
The Dockers, playing before a capacity crowd of more than 43,000 at Perth’s Subiaco Oval, led by 43 points after three quarters, then held off a brief Swans comeback attempt midway through the final period.
On Friday, the Hawthorn Hawks, who finished in first place in the regular season, overcame a late 20-point deficit to end an 11-game losing streak against Geelong and beat the Cats 14.18 (102) to 15.7 (97). The Hawks play Fremantle next Saturday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the grand final.
The final will match the AFL’s highest scorers — Hawthorn with 2,523 points scored during the regular season — and Fremantle, which had the best defense, allowing just 1,518 points.
“We’re going to ask some serious questions of the Hawthorn Football Club,” Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said after the win over Sydney. “And they’re going to ask some serious questions of us.”
In their two playoff matches, the Dockers allowed Geelong only 72 points and Sydney its 74.
Sydney coach John Longmire said he liked Fremantle’s chances in the championship decider, which will likely attract about 100,000 fans to the MCG.
“They have got nearly all their best players available and they’re playing with a fierce want and will to win,” Longmire said. “It stands up in big games. They have got some real top-end talent and they’re putting enormous defensive pressure on.”
Hawthorn got good news when star forward Lance Franklin said a right elbow injury would not keep him out of Saturday’s final.