It was the name on everyone’s lips after Fremantle’s pulsating four-point win against Geelong on Saturday night.
The niggling, irritating, annoying, frustrating player was at his bothersome best on the night, getting under the skin of the cats like a flea and rattling the reigning premiers to the point where players who are usually ice cold under pressure were suddenly throwing punches and slinging the men in purple to the ground.
He was into everything. Winning three free kicks, giving away one, kicking two goals, assisting another, dropping players, getting dropped himself. Ballantyne was the epitome of a one-man sideshow act on Saturday and didn’t the crowd love him for it!
It was a spiteful and highly aggressive match, with the Dockers jumping the cats early and getting five goals to zip in the first few minutes before the champion team dragged it back.
The lead changed more than a dozen times during the match, with only an inspirational soccer of the ground by captain Matthew Pavlich in the last three minutes sealing the win for the Dockers, 105 to 101.
Three cats were reported for striking, with Matthew Scarlett looking like spending at least a month on the sidelines for a love tap on the jaw of Ballantyne that was celebrated by the fans of the other 17 teams of the competition, while James Podsiadly and James Kelly also received reports, which to me they should not be penalised for.
Ballantyne could also face scrutiny with the Match Review Panel after an alleged off the ball hit on Paul Chapman left the veteran cat doubled over in distress.
What I Liked About the Game
Josh Mellington: The youngster played well above his five-game experience level with a classy three goals in crucial moments of the game. Definitely one player who is thriving under new coach Ross Lyon.
Paul Duffield + Michael Johnson: This duo were struggling last year, and if it wasn’t for the severe injury problems of the team, I would have thought both of them would have been dropped down to the WAFL at some point to get some confidence. They both played supremely well in the back half on Saturday, racking up 21 and 24 possessions respectively to give some much needed run out of the back half.
Matthew Pavlich: The Captain stood up when he was needed. Well held all game, his two goals in the final quarter sealed the game for the home team. Definitely more valuable in the forward line then the midfield.
Nathan Fyfe: Need I say more? 30 possessions for a best-on-ground performance to go with two goals, one of which saw him running along the left hand side boundary and kicked with his left foot. So impossible, that even Chris Scott shook his head, smiled and uttered a few words of incredulity that will remain unrepeated.