Saturday, March 30, 2013

Anko...one-ups her sister!?



Don’t laugh, the Fremantle Dockers will be one of the AFL’s top sides in 2013. The Dockers may not receive a ton of attention in the football capital, however Saturday's win against cross-town rivals the West Coast Eagles deserves recognition as the beginning of what will be a strong year for the purple and white.
It took the Dockers a half of football to establish a scoreboard lead against the Eagles, but coach Ross Lyon’s game plan was dominant from the onset. Despite being down at the major break, Fremantle held control of the game for much of the first half as well and it will be their combined ability to defend and go forward with conviction that will make this team dangerous in 2013.
The Dockers are finally sporting a full and talented midfield, maybe the best in Fremantle history, and it showed on the scoreboard on Saturday. Dominant heading inside 50, Fremantle won the count 61-38 and controlled the same category at the half, eventually running out 28-point winners. Clearly shell-shocked in opening part of the game, but there wasn’t a lot West Coast could do with their opponents thereafter.
Ryan Crowley, cementing his status as the number one tagger in the game, did a number on Luke Shuey, while Michael Barlow and David Mundy showed how potent the midfield can really be. Complimented by cameo performances from the brilliant Nat Fyfe and Danyle Pearce, the Fremantle ball winners may not be among the competition’s best just yet, but there is the potential to create some significant damage against quality opposition. Barlow, Mundy and Pearce combined for six shots on goal and the usually attacking Fyfe, who wasn’t at his best Saturday, will also be a threat in future.
An off night from an underdone Matthew Pavlich allowed the Fremantle smalls to display what they are capable of in front of goal. Nick Suban’s career hung in the balance a season ago, but he now appears to have a heap of job security after a three goal performance against the Eagles and his ability to now play on the ball. Michael Walters was superb with three goals from his 13 possessions and Hayden Ballantyne even managed a major in what was a pretty rough night for the tiny antagonist while mid-sized option Chris Mayne was as accurate as ever with two goals straight. Even when Fremantle’s superstar Pavlich isn’t firing there are enough options forward to get them over the line against just about every team in the competition.
Ross Lyon has instilled a harsh, yet effective, accountability system in his time with Fremantle and the results deserve recognition. The potential falloff of top tier teams (Hawthorn, Sydney, Adelaide, West Coast) may mean Fremantle is able to notch a top four spot this season, however even if they don’t still expect a huge year from a club right on the cusp of turning a ton of heads.
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