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Neale composed when it counts

Tom Fee  May 14, 2017 1:56 PM

Watch the last two minutes of Sunday's match.

Lachie Neale showed every minute of his 100 AFL game experience with a split-second decision that set up Fremantle’s thrilling two-point win over Richmond on Sunday afternoon at the MCG.

The game seemed all but over late in the final term as Brandon Ellis goaled to give the Tigers a four-point lead with approximately 20 seconds on the clock.

At the restart Neale gathered and burst through unimpeded and considered the possibility of kicking a hero’s goal in his milestone game.

“My first thought was to pin the ears back and have a shot,” Neale said. 

“But I had a little bit of composure. My kick was a little bit of a shank but I saw a bit of space in the pocket and kicked it in there. 

“Dave (Mundy) was there in the right spot, he took a good mark and had an outstanding finish.”

Neale said he wasn’t targeting Mundy specifically. Instead, his aim was to find a gap and trust the forwardline to do the rest.

“The runner had told us there was 20 seconds left so we knew there wasn’t much time,” Neale said.

“At the bounce we were just trying to get it in a bit of space and run onto it and try to score.

“I didn’t even know who was there (in the forward line) I just hit it there and hoped our forwards were playing in front.” 

In a game where a midfielder in Mundy went forward to clinch the win, Neale paid tribute to a forward who was crucial in the middle.

Michael Walters, who played his second straight game in Freo’s midfield, racked up 38 touches with 15 contested possessions.

“I thought ‘Sonny’ was excellent today,” Neale said.

“He was everywhere, every time I looked up he was in the right spot to receive the ball and he was winning clearances and the hard ball as well.

“He’s really growing in that area and hopefully that continues.”

While Neale’s 23rd and final disposal of the day was most crucial, he also contributed to Fremantle’s outstanding pressure early in the game with seven tackles up to half time.

“It was a disappointing last quarter but I think out first three quarters were really good,” Neale said.

“We’ve just got to eradicate those one or two quarters where we play some poor footy.

“We’ll learn from it and hopefully grow as a team.

“It’s a much better feeling having a win than walking off the field as a loser today.”