The Western Bulldogs have returned to the winner’s list, holding off a determined Fremantle outfit to record a 28-point win in Perth on Sunday night.
Despite holding just an eight-point lead at the final break and the Dockers mounting a late charge, it was the Bulldogs who stepped up in the 13.15 (93) to 9.11 (65) affair.
It is the first time the Dogs have won at Optus Stadium, and the first time since 2009 they have beaten the Dockers in their home state.
The first half was an arm wrestle, with both sides exchanging goals early.
After being tagged out of the game in the first quarter, Tom Liberatore slowly worked himself back in – exploding after half-time with two back-to-back majors to give his side a 15-point buffer.
Fremantle continued to press up until the final break, before injuries wreaked havoc.
The Dogs broke the game open in the last, kicking away with two late goals to seal the win.
The hard-fought victory keeps the Dogs within reach of ladder-leading Melbourne, as they prepare to enter the bye in Round 13.
Captain Marcus Bontempelli was prolific with 27 disposals, seven clearances and two remarkable goals – both of which were outside the arc and in succession of one another.
Ball-magnet Jack Macrae (35 disposals, six insides 50s) continued his unbeaten run of 30+ disposals in each game this season, while Liberatore finished with 19 disposals and six clearances.
Caleb Daniel impressed with his additional midfield minutes, while Lachie Hunter (27 touches), Bailey Dale (22 touches) and Taylor Duryea (22 touches, seven marks) were impactful.
Aaron Naughton clunked 13 marks but struggled to convert, while Cody Weightman and Mitch Hannan finished with two goals each.
The win was soured by a shoulder injury to ruck Stef Martin, with the Bulldogs forced to activate their medical sub in Rhylee West after half-time.
The Bulldogs will spend their bye weekend in Melbourne, after setting up base in Sydney during the week.
FREMANTLE 2.2 4.4 7.8 9.11 (65)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 6.8 8.10 13.15 (93)
Fremantle: Treacy 3, Brayshaw, Serong, Henry, Lobb, Crowden, Walters
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 2, Liberatore 2, Hannan 2, Weightman 2, Hunter, Scott, Naughton, English, Bruce
Fremantle: Mundy, Brayshaw, Treacy, Darcy, Ryan, Fyfe
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Macrae, Hunter, Liberatore, Daniel, Duryea
Fremantle: Logue (concussion), Fyfe (shoulder), Cox (hamstring), Darcy (hamstring)
Western Bulldogs: Martin (shoulder)
Fremantle: Tobe Watson (replaced Griffin Logue)
Western Bulldogs: Rhylee West (replaced Stefan Martin)
Crowd: 32,875 at Optus Stadium