|Brownlow Medal||3 Nat Fyfe (FREO)||2 Ben Brown (NTH)||1 Connor Blakely (FREO)|
The 'thriller' of round 16 was played out at Docklands on Sunday afternoon and, sadly for Kangaroos' fans, it delivered an all-too-familiar ending, with North Melbourne losing yet another close encounter, falling short by a harrowing four points against Fremantle. The script was slightly different this time around, with the Roos behind for most of the match, before they grabbed the lead late, only to lose it again. They had one final chance to snatch victory when ruckman Todd Goldstein was awarded a free kick in front of goal, but he missed a relatively easy shot. The ball was still deep in North's forward line when the siren sounded, the Dockers just sneaking home.
Fremantle's hero was an unlikely one, a player called Ryan Nyhuis, whose name would have been known to very few outside the club prior to this match. The 20-year-old Nyhuis was a late inclusion into the team, after David Mundy was a late withdrawal through injury. Nyhuis, originally from the Northern Territory, looked very much like he belonged at the top level from the start, kicking two goals in the first half, and then the last two of the match, his final major restoring the Dockers' lead at the 29-minute mark of the last quarter.
The Dockers got off to a flyer and had four goals on the board in the first 12 minutes, including one to Nyhuis and two to Michael Walters, who had kicked six a week earlier in their narrow loss to St Kilda. North finally hit the scoreboard with a goal to Ben Brown after he marked midway through the term. That proved to be the last goal of the quarter and Fremantle went into he first break leading 4.3 to 1.2.
Nyhuis stamped himself on the contest again early in the second quarter, kicking his second major from the goal square inside the first minute. North responded with the next two, one of them a 'goal of the year contender' from Shaun Higgins on the boundary line, but the Kangaroos could not close the gap any further as the two sides traded goals and the margin at the half was as it had been at quarter time, 19 points.
Defences took over in the third quarter and it was 10 minutes before a major was scored. North Skipper Jack Ziebell broke the drought with a nice long goal from an angle, but the next 15 minutes brought only two scoring shots, both misses to Fremantle, before Andrew Swallow snapped truly at the 25-minute mark to bring the Kangaroos within eight points at the last end-change.
Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe had two early chances to relieve the pressure for the Dockers in the final quarter, He missed the first but nailed the second, pushing his side's lead back out to 15 points. But North rallied again, and majors to Brown and Luke McDonald had the Roos within two points after nine minutes. Shane Kersten relieved the pressure for the Dockers with his second goal but the Roos came again, a goal from Aaron Mulett followed by Brown's fourth, giving North the lead for the first time in the match.
The Kangaroos extended their lead to seven points with two further behinds, but debutant Nyhuis then made his mark as the match-winner, firstly with a beautiful long goal on the run from outside 50 and then with a 'clutch' mark and goal to give the Dockers a six-point lead at the 28-minute mark. North went forward and a rushed behind had them within five points, and then a ruck infringement saw Goldstein awarded a free kick with 17 seconds left on the clock. A goal would gave secured the Roos a one-point win, but Goldstein pushed his kick right, and Fremantle held on to record a heart-stopping four-point win.
Along with Nyhuis, Fyfe (33 possessions, six marks) and Connor Blakely (12 marks, 32 touches) played vital roles in Fremantle's win, while Ziebell (28 disposals, eight tackles) and Brown (four goals, seven marks) almost saw North Melbourne over the line.
The win keeps the Dockers' finals chances alive, with a Western Derby encounter against West Coast (ninth) to come next Sunday. The Roos will rue yet another narrow loss, and they will be hard-pressed to come up with a win when they take on fourth-placed Port Adelaide in Adelaide next Saturday.
North Melbourne: Brown 4; Mullett 2; Mountford, Swallow, Atley, McDonald, Higgins, Ziebell
Fremantle: Nyhuis 4; Walters 3; Kersten, Kersten 2; Fyfe, Cox
BEST - AFL.COM.AU
North Melbourne: Brown, Higgins, Ziebell, Wagner, Mullett, Atley
Fremantle: Fyfe, Nyhuis, Blakely, Walters, Neale, Tucker
BEST - THE AGE
North Melbourne: Ziebell,Higgins, Brown, Thomas, Cunnington, Mullett
Fremantle: Fyfe, Nyhuis, Walters, Neale, Blakely, B. Hill
North Melbourne: Nil
Fremantle: Grey (shoulder), Hamling (hip), Sheridan (hamstring), Mundy (illness) replaced in selected side by Nyhuis
UMPIRES: Donlon, Haussen, Hosking
TELEVISION BROADCAST: Fox Footy
COMMENTATORS: Anthony Hudson, Jason Dunstall, Gerard Healy
|North Melbourne||Match Stats||Career|
|18||Atley, Shaun||8||6||11||19||1||0||0||2||0||0||24y 299d||147||24|
|50||Brown, Ben||11||7||2||13||4||2||0||4||2||1||24y 231d||70||129|
|10||Cunnington, Ben||7||1||21||28||0||1||0||8||1||2||26y 9d||158||65|
|38||Daw, Majak||3||1||1||4||0||0||15||2||0||0||26y 120d||29||30|
|14||Dumont, Trent||3||2||10||13||0||0||0||6||0||0||22y 9d||33||13|
|27||Garner, Taylor||5||0||10||15||0||0||0||2||2||4||23y 182d||28||17|
|43||Gibson, Sam||10||5||11||21||0||0||0||7||0||1||31y 43d||123||49|
|22||Goldstein, Todd||7||3||8||15||0||2||32||4||3||0||29y 8d||185||100|
|39||Hibberd, Mitchell||10||7||12||22||0||0||0||3||0||0||20y 289d||3||0|
|4||Higgins, Shaun||18||6||8||26||1||0||0||5||3||1||29y 127d||176||191|
|8||Hrovat, Nathan||8||5||8||16||0||0||0||2||0||0||23y 32d||45||24|
|11||McDonald, Luke||12||5||10||22||1||0||0||5||0||2||22y 150d||67||9|
|42||Mountford, Declan||10||3||6||16||1||0||0||2||1||0||20y 146d||5||1|
|17||Mullett, Aaron||20||5||4||24||2||1||0||1||1||0||25y 136d||79||30|
|26||Nielson, Daniel||7||4||8||15||0||0||0||1||2||2||21y 61d||1||0|
|21||Simpkin, Jy||6||2||6||12||0||0||0||4||0||0||19y 126d||7||5|
|9||Swallow, Andrew||6||0||16||22||1||0||0||4||0||0||30y 37d||217||78|
|25||Tarrant, Robbie||11||6||5||16||0||0||0||2||1||0||28y 75d||99||42|
|12||Thomas, Lindsay||14||4||5||19||0||0||0||2||1||1||29y 130d||203||322|
|16||Thompson, Scott||10||10||11||21||0||0||0||4||0||1||31y 61d||193||6|
|41||Wagner, Corey||3||3||4||7||0||0||0||1||0||0||20y 108d||7||0|
|7||Ziebell, Jack||16||4||12||28||1||1||0||8||0||1||26y 131d||162||97|
|1||Ballantyne, Hayden||3||2||1||4||0||0||0||3||0||0||29y 358d||144||225|
|19||Blakely, Connor||19||12||13||32||0||0||0||4||0||0||21y 129d||30||2|
|36||Cox, Brennan||4||4||6||10||1||0||3||2||1||1||18y 330d||4||2|
|17||Crozier, Hayden||8||7||5||13||0||0||0||2||0||1||23y 197d||63||40|
|4||Darcy, Sean||3||2||7||10||0||0||34||7||0||3||19y 27d||3||1|
|7||Fyfe, Nat||11||6||22||33||1||1||0||4||2||2||25y 294d||131||115|
|28||Grey, Brady||8||3||4||12||0||2||0||4||1||0||21y 354d||15||8|
|21||Hamling, Joel||2||2||6||8||0||0||0||2||0||0||24y 91d||38||0|
|9||Hill, Bradley||18||6||7||25||0||1||0||2||0||1||24y 0d||110||70|
|32||Hill, Stephen||11||4||9||20||0||0||0||2||0||0||27y 69d||183||107|
|15||Hughes, Ethan||9||6||9||18||0||0||0||3||0||1||22y 214d||17||0|
|37||Johnson, Michael||9||3||3||12||0||0||0||6||2||1||32y 262d||224||65|
|22||Kersten, Shane||5||2||3||8||2||1||0||1||1||0||24y 116d||51||57|
|2||Logue, Griffin||6||3||7||13||0||0||0||1||1||0||19y 87d||7||1|
|27||Neale, Lachie||14||7||13||27||0||0||0||4||1||2||24y 46d||107||56|
|43||Nyhuis, Ryan||8||5||1||9||4||1||0||1||0||1||20y 306d||1||4|
|38||Ryan, Luke||15||6||4||19||0||0||0||4||1||0||21y 153d||5||0|
|11||Sheridan, Tommy||5||2||4||9||0||0||0||1||0||0||23y 254d||67||20|
|8||Suban, Nick||6||1||4||10||0||0||0||10||2||4||27y 61d||149||58|
|18||Tucker, Darcy||9||5||6||15||2||1||0||5||1||0||20y 167d||24||10|
|10||Walters, Michael||15||7||5||20||3||0||0||5||2||0||26y 183d||109||197|
|14||Weller, Lachie||9||4||8||17||0||0||0||3||1||0||21y 136d||40||17|