Territory-product Fremantle’s Ryan Nyhuis booted four goals on debut to lift the Dockers to a nailbiting 13.8 (86) to 12.10 (82) win over North Melbourne yesterday.
The 20-year-old, who had never played as a forward, was outstanding in his first game of AFL, booting two of his four majors in the final quarter as the Dockers secured victory at Etihad Stadium.
Veteran Todd Goldstein had the chance to win the game for North Melbourne but missed his set shot from 20m out directly in front of goal with just 17 seconds remaining.
The Kangaroos ruckman was distraught after the game, with the Roos again found wanting in a tight finish.
After trailing for 3½ quarters, North took the lead with 10 minutes remaining when spearhead Ben Brown booted his fourth major. Nyhuis cut the margin back to a point with a tough goal under pressure from deep in the forward pocket.
The 2015 rookie draft selection then turned matchwinner with a set-shot floater that put the Dockers ahead by six points.
When former skipper David Mundy pulled out with the flu, Fremantle coach Ross Lyon decided the best solution was to throw Nyhuis forward.
“It was the first time in my life I had played forward, basically,” Nyhuis told Fox Footy after the game. “Ross threw me a curve ball. It was great to be able to do the job.”
The win over the 17th-placed Roos snaps a five-game losing streak for Fremantle, who climb to 12th on the ladder.
“We’ve been in a lot of tight games this year,” Lyon said. “Our desire and our will to win was really strong, so that was incredibly pleasing and satisfying.”
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott was left frustrated after another loss in which the Roos had more scoring shots than their opposition.
“The disappointing part is that Fremantle were much better than us early,” Scott said.
“I thought largely the players got it back the way we wanted it, but we just didn’t execute.”
Skipper Nat Fyfe was enormous for the Dockers, finishing with 33 disposals, 12 clearances and a goal. Michael Walters continued his outstanding season with 20 disposals and three goals, while Connor Blakely was prominent.
Key forward Brown (four goals) was a clear standout for North Melbourne along with Shaun Higgins and Ben Cunnington.
Fremantle went a man down at halftime with Tommy Sheridan succumbing to a hamstring injury. They were also without former skipper David Mundy, who was a late withdrawal after falling ill. But it mattered little for the Dockers.
IMAGE/Ryan Nyhuis celebrates after scoring a goal for the Dockers during the Round 16 AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Sunday, July 9, 2017. (AAP Image/David Crosling)