Fremantle overcame an early Tom Mitchell master-class and a wayward afternoon by two-time Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe to post a 15-point win over Hawthorn in Perth.
Earlier on Sunday, Melbourne enjoyed a 25-point triumph over Geelong, while Adelaide beat the Kangaroos by 41 points.
The Dockers looked set for a comfortable win after opening up a 36-2 lead at quarter-time, but Mitchell’s 18-disposal, one-goal second term flipped momentum Hawthorn’s way.
The margin was whittled down to five points during the third term, but two clutch goals to Sean Darcy settled Fremantle’s nerves and guided them to the 13.18 (96) to 12.9 (81) win.
Fyfe was a crucial cog in the win, tallying 31 disposals and six clearances.
But his kicking for goal left a lot to be desired, with the Fremantle skipper booting six behinds for the match.
Some were easy, such as his set shot from 30 metres out in the first term.
Others were tougher snaps that sailed just wide of the target.
Fremantle veteran David Mundy was best afield with 25 disposals, seven clearances, one goal and four score assists.
Mitchell finished with 37 disposals and five clearances in a losing cause, while Dylan Moore kicked three goals.
The Dockers loaded up on tall forwards going into the match, and the tactic paid dividends in the opening quarter as Matt Taberner and Darcy combined for three goals to set up the 34-point lead.
Debutant Josh Treacy had the chance to join in on the fun, but he pushed his 35-metre set shot wide after the quarter-time siren.
Fremantle won the inside 50s count 19-6 in the opening term and the free-kick count 11-1 as the Hawks were made to pay dearly for their ill-discipline.
Mitchell’s second-quarter heroics brought Hawthorn back into the match.
Fremantle managed just 1.5 for the term, with Fyfe going to the half-time break with 0.4 to his name, and Andrew Brayshaw restricted to just two disposals under the close attention of James Worpel.
Brayshaw was sent to tag Mitchell in the second half in a bid to break the shackles.
The Fremantle youngster’s frustrations boiled over in the third quarter when he collected Mitchell high off the ball, costing the Dockers a goal.
But Brayshaw ended up restricting Mitchell to just 12 disposals in the second half in what proved to be a winning tactical manoeuvre.
Brayshaw tallied nine disposals in the final quarter to finish the match with 15 possessions.
Demons maintain perfect start
A star turn from Christian Petracca has helped Melbourne see off Geelong by 25 points and record its best start to a season in 27 years.
The Demons overcame a wasteful start — and the loss of Steven May to injury in the second quarter — to beat the Cats 12.13 (85) to 9.6 (60) in front of 33,728 spectators at the MCG and go 4-0 for the first time since 1994.
Petracca dominated with 36 disposals, nine clearances and two goals, while Bayley Fritsch (four goals), Max Gawn (41 hit-outs and 23 disposals), Ed Langdon and Jake Lever were excellent.
Cats skipper Joel Selwood (30 disposals) did a mountain of work at the stoppages, while Tom Stewart and Cam Guthrie were also influential.
Geelong lost Brandan Parfitt (hip) before the game, with Quinton Narkle a late inclusion.
As expected, Cats tagger Mark O’Connor gravitated towards Clayton Oliver, who fought through the game to finish with 34 touches but it was Petracca who proved the main event.
The 25-year-old drew first blood when he burst forward to crumb Luke Jackson’s marking effort but from there the Demons were largely wasteful throughout the first and second terms, despite dominating possession.
May was substituted off in the second quarter for Tom Sparrow after he was left bleeding profusely above his right eye when Geelong’s Tom Hawkins threw his elbow back in a bid to break a tackle.
The defender was later taken to hospital for further assessment, with concerns over a potential eye socket injury.
Fritsch booted three goals in the second quarter alone, while Petracca snapped his second with the last kick of the first half to nudge Melbourne’s lead out to 23 points.
The Demons got out to a 30-point advantage in the third term before consecutive goals from Hawkins, Jack Henry and Isaac Smith ate away at Melbourne’s lead.
Smith’s second snap late in the quarter cut the deficit to 12 points at the final change to set up a blockbuster finish.
But Langdon and Fritsch both quickly snared goals from tough angles to give the Demons some breathing room, before Jake Melksham sealed the result late.
Crows run away from winless Roos
Adelaide has broken North Melbourne hearts by powering away for a 41-point victory at Docklands to extend the Kangaroos’ AFL losing streak to 12 matches.
After being embarrassed by 128 points in their marquee Good Friday match last week, the Kangaroos responded in fierce fashion to give the Crows some nervous moments this afternoon.
But Adelaide weathered the Kangaroos’ gallant charge to slam through eight final-quarter goals to one and win 16.13 (109) to 10.8 (68).
After winning just three matches last year to collect the club’s first wooden spoon, the Crows find themselves inside the top-eight with a 3-1 record.
The Kangaroos took a four-point lead into the last term after dominating the second and third quarters, but the Crows ran out the match far stronger as their opponents faded badly.
The home side was left reeling when Cam Zurhaar (concussion) and Luke McDonald (pectoral muscle) were ruled out of the match after hurting themselves within seconds of each other.
The pair went straight to the bench, with medical sub Lachie Young activated into the match in the first term.
Winless through four matches this season, the Kangaroos’ last win was back in round nine of the 2020 season when they smashed Adelaide by 69 points.
Rejuvenated Adelaide veteran Taylor Walker extended his lead in the Coleman Medal race with three goals, including the opening two of the match in what seemed to be an ominous sign for the Kangaroos.
Walker enjoyed terrific support up forward and Darcy Fogarty made the most of his opportunities with three goals from just five kicks.
Crows young gun Lachlan Sholl had a career-best game with 31disposals, while Rory Laird and Ben Keays were influential.