Throughout the AFL’s shutdown period, we will be taking a look back at some of the most important and interesting moments in Fremantle history with On This Day.
On 31 March 2012, 34,601 fans flocked to Subiaco Oval for a game they would never forget.
Geelong headed west following a dominant season where they lost just three games on the way to winning the 2011 flag. Freo had finished 11th with a 9-13 record, two wins and percentage out of the top eight.
The game would be Ross Lyon’s first as Fremantle coach, and it was also the club debut of former Saint and Hawk Zac Dawson.
Here’s how the teams lined up.
Freo jumped the Cats with a five goal run in the opening term. Starting with Matthew Pavlich’s 490th career goal and ending with a strong Nat Fyfe mark and goal from 20 metres out.
The reigning premiers did not take this lying down, and kicked six of the next seven to tie the game at 36-36 early in the second term.
From there it was an arm wrestle, with the lead changing hands 13 times until the final siren.
The game was fast paced, with commentators remarking on how quick it was, even for a round one clash.
Aaron Sandilands stood tall with three big contested marks and 30 hitouts. A 20-year-old Nat Fyfe had one of his career-best games to date with 30 disposals and two goals.
Close to half time, Luke McPharlin provided the highlight of the night (so far) with this screamer on the wing.
After leading by 30 in the first, Freo faced a five-point deficit at half time.
It was a big stage for 19-year-old Josh Mellington, playing just his third AFL game.
But he shone up front with three goals, however it was his tackle near the goalsquare in the third that would be the most decisive, setting off a chain of events that would lead to two Freo goals.
Starting with this from Tendai Mzungu.
Which led to this famous incident.
And Hayden Ballantyne's first of the night.
Jimmy Bartel quickly helped Geelong respond to the double-goal, but soon after Michael Barlow stepped in to ensure he wouldn't be left off the highlight reel.
Goals to Steve Johnson and Tom Hawkins ensured Freo only held a one-point advantage at the final break.
The Cats dominated possession at their end of the ground for most of the fourth quarter but Freo's backs held strong. One key moment in the fourth came when Dawson won this one-on-one to prevent a likely Geelong goal.
With Freo trailing by a point, Ballantyne brought the house down with this.
But it would only set the stage for one of the great Pavlich moments.
Pav's first and second goals provided the bookends for Freo to secure a four-point win on an enthralling night.