Star Fremantle defender Michael Johnson could be sidelined for up to a month after injuring his knee in Sunday’s 40-point demolition of Adelaide at Patersons Stadium.
Johnson limped off in the second quarter after suffering suspected medial ligament damage to his right knee while being slung in a tackle.
The All-Australian is expected to miss between two to four weeks, with scans set to confirm the full extent of the damage.
Adelaide led by two points at halftime, but they couldn’t make the most of Johnson’s absence as Fremantle’s runners took control to secure the 12.18 (90) to 7.8 (50) win.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands (20 possessions, 38 hit-outs) and defender Lee Spurr (32 disposals) battled it out for best afield honours, while Nat Fyfe, David Mundy, Stephen Hill and Ryan Crowley were also crucial in the win.
Fremantle won the possession count 442-297, had double the amount of scoring shots and could have won by as much as 70 points if not for their inaccurate goalkicking.
Ironically, it took the competition’s wonkiest kicker to set the Dockers straight when the game was on the line late in the third quarter.
Fremantle were still in danger of being overhauled after their return of 6.11 left them with just a slender 10-point lead.
But when defender Zac Dawson drifted forward to nail a set shot from 47m out, it set the platform for a dominant finish to the game.
Dawson’s foot skills leave a lot to be desired, and as such he rarely kicks the ball in open play.
But Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was confident the former Saint would nail the shot.
“What I do know is the few times under my coaching when he’s had a shot, he’s nearly kicked them all, bar one,” Lyon said.
“I think he kicked a match-winner against Carlton to seal it.”
Although Fremantle (7-4) are right in the hunt to secure a top-four berth, the Crows (5-6) are in danger of missing the finals for a second straight year.
However, Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson is still daring to dream.
“The season’s not over for us without question. There is still plenty of fight left in us,” Sanderson said.
“We are as hungry as ever.
“Our form has been up and down which has been well documented, but we feel we can still match it with the best sides.”
The Crows’ finals hopes could be decided next Saturday when they host North Melbourne at Adelaide Oval.
Fremantle face the unpredictable Tigers at the MCG on Saturday, and Lyon hopes his team can fix up their accuracy in time.
And if any Dockers players want to attempt a dribble goal, they better make sure they kick it.
“I think Tendai will go into the dribble file,” Lyon said with a smile in regards to Mzungu’s dribble effort that hit the post.
“It wasn’t very good was it? It could have gone through halfway up the post.”