Walters stars as Dockers stun Bulldogs

·3-min read

Fremantle have overcome an early case of stage fright and a 41-point deficit to post a stunning 13-point elimination final victory over the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium.

The Bulldogs looked to have Saturday night's game in the bag after opening up a 42-1 lead nine minutes into the second term.

But the Dockers booted 10 of the next 11 goals to set up the famous 11.7 (73) to 8.12 (60) victory in front of 58,982 fans.

The result sets up a semi-final against Collingwood at the MCG next Saturday, and also keeps David Mundy's hopes of a dream flag alive.

"It's pretty special," Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said after the match.

"To do what we did tonight, it takes a lot of belief, it takes maturity, and it takes a fair bit of guts really.

"We've been working on our mental skills for three years since I got here, and it's for moments like this where you feel like you're done but you stick to the task and you try to claw your way back into it.

"I'm so proud of the players."

For the Bulldogs, who only just scraped into the finals courtesy of Carlton's late choke, their season was brought to an end at the same venue where they suffered last year's humiliating 74-point grand final loss to Melbourne.

"In the end after being up by so much, it was death by a thousand cuts," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

"We went away from some things that had served us well in the early parts of the game."

Dockers veteran Michael Walters was crucial in the win with 3.3, while Rory Lobb, who is expected to move to the Bulldogs after this season, finished with two long-range goals.

Midfielders Caleb Serong (33 disposals, 10 clearances, one goal) and Andrew Brayshaw (32 possessions, one goal) feasted off the ruck dominance of Sean Darcy (47 hitouts, 15 possessions).

Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli was influential early and finished with 30 disposals and two goals, while Josh Dunkley (23 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) was also important.

Fremantle's inexperienced team - featuring just four players with previous finals experience - looked like deers in the headlights for most of the first half.

Bontempelli set the tone with two long-range goals in the opening quarter - the first after just two minutes.

The visitors were so dominant that Fremantle went 18 minutes without entering their forward 50m at one stage.

Alarm bells were ringing when Josh Dunkley's snap early in the second quarter extended the margin to 41 points.

Fremantle couldn't buy a goal at that stage.

All hope seemed lost, especially when two-game forward Jye Amiss missed a 15m set shot from almost directly in front.

But the final five minutes of the half got Fremantle back into the match.

Walters converted the team's first goal after receiving a soft free kick.

Brayshaw followed it up with a 50m goal on the run a minute later, and Serong continued the momentum with a sharp snap.

Amiss was mobbed by teammates when he nailed a clutch goal after the half-time siren to cut the margin back to 15 points.

Fremantle went on to nail the big moments in the third quarter.

Walters pulled off a brilliant smother in attack to keep the pressure hot, and a minute later he scooped up the ball to snap truly.

Lobb converted long-range goals either side of that, reducing the margin to six points at the final change.

Amiss converted a 48m goal early in the final quarter to level the scores, and when Michael Frederick pulled off a crucial tackle on Ed Richards to set up Walters' third, the Dockers were on their way.