Alex Pearce stars as Dockers beat Suns

Justin ChadwickAAP
Liam Henry (centre) of the Dockers celebrates kicking a goal during their win over the Suns.
Camera IconLiam Henry (centre) of the Dockers celebrates kicking a goal during their win over the Suns. Credit: AAP

Alex Pearce has upstaged Matt Rowell in the battle of the comebacks to lead Fremantle to a 27-point AFL win over Gold Coast in front of 27,318 fans at Optus Stadium.

Star Suns midfielder Rowell, playing his first game since injuring his knee in round one, was quiet with just 14 disposals and three clearances in the 11.10 (76) to 6.13 (49) loss on Saturday.

Pearce had also been sidelined since the opening round because of a knee injury and made sure his comeback game was one to relish.

The 26-year-old kept Suns forward Ben King goalless from seven disposals.

Pearce, who tallied 16 disposals, seven marks, and five rebound 50s, also saved several other goals by putting his body on the line to shut down Gold Coast's forays forward.

King's confidence was so shot by the end of the match that he dropped a simple mark and then missed from 15m out when an open goal beckoned.

"I was expecting a bit of rustiness to be honest today, just given it's his first AFL game as a fullback in a long time," Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said of Pearce, who has been ravaged by leg and ankle injuries.

"He hit the ground running. Some of the contests he won, the physical pressure he put on King - I just thought he was a real rock for us down there for us. I'm really proud of him.

"He's probably been in some dark spaces with his injuries, but he never really shows it around the club.

"I would imagine he's still got plenty of growth in him. It's his first game as a fullback in probably two years. He's just going to build on what he did today."

The result improved Fremantle's record to 6-7, while Gold Coast's finals hopes are all but over after slipping to 4-8.

Dockers veteran David Mundy was influential with 20 disposals, six clearances and two goals, while Rory Lobb booted two goals and snared four contested marks.

Suns midfielder Touk Miller battled hard for 31 disposals, seven clearances and a goal.

Rowell endured a moment of embarrassment when he didn't realise he was meant to be on the field for the opening bounce.

The 19-year-old had made his way to the bench before being advised to rush back out on the field - with the trainer even showing him the magnetic whiteboard to prove they were correct.

Bright sunshine and perfect conditions greeted players for the match, but the opening half proved to be one of the ugliest displays of football seen this season.

Both sides were guilty of committing basic handling errors and costly turnovers with Gold Coast going to halftime with 1.8 to their name, with Burgess and Sam Flanders both booting two behinds during the second term.

Suns coach Stuart Dew was scathing of his team's performance, but was happy that Rowell got through unscathed.

"He's going to be better for the run," Dew said.

"For him to get through the game, if there is one thing that puts a smile on our face ... we can be happy about that."

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails