FIVE IMPORTANT PLAYS
No doubt the most important play of the night was the final play in which the ball ended up in Michael Walters’ hands. There were one-on-one contests deep in Fremantle’s forward 50 with scores tied, with more Lions around the ball than Dockers. It allowed for players like Luke Ryan to get out the back and Walters to lead hard to get separation from Darcy Gardiner. He took the final shot of the match after the siren and win it for the home side.
Charlie Cameron’s second goal of the first quarter was a result of Jarrod Lyons putting the ball into space and knowing Cameron could out-run his opponent. Cameron, though, was involved in the play before to an extent after a hurried bomb from Noah Answerth bounced just in front of he and Connor Blakely. The ball bounced back to Lyons, Cameron trailed off his opponent to get the edge, and accelerated 30 metres with his electrifying speed to snap a dribble kick from 40 after a crafty gather.
Bradley Hill’s last quarter typified how handy he is when he has the ball in his hands, coupled with his pace across the ground. But what brought him to attention was when he gave chase as the ball travelled Lion to Lion. He relentlessly chased the player with the ball, and his pressure saw him smother a kick, compose himself to gather the ball and again, start the play that many believed defined the game.
The Dockers spoiled many attempts from the Lions because of an attacking mentality that appeared to state they didn’t want to allow cheap goals. There were two instances of this, with Lewis Taylor smothered in the goal square by Taylin Duman and Sam Switkowski lunging in front of Eric Hipwood as a vacant goal square beckoned.
Sometimes I wish players would just take the responsibility to take the shot at goal. After an intelligent tap on by Jesse Hogan who won a one-on-one against Hodge, the Dockers kept playing around with the ball when really, it should’ve been a simple kick towards goal. No one took responsibility. Brayshaw, Langdon and Cerra were all involved, until the former kicked to (and almost over the head of) Rory Lobb. Luckily the ruckman knew what he was doing, made the kick look good and finished with a goal, but it was looking messy when everyone in that period had a path to take the shot and refused to, passing the buck to others. All’s well that ends well, but so many times this season, things have come undone due to over-possessing. This was almost another one.
FIVE IMPORTANT PLAYERS
In the first quarter, he looked like he’d play another game where he was just always in control, looking deadly in the Lions forward half. He kicked three goals in the first quarter alone, but unfortunately, the livewire didn’t do anything else of note after that. His set shot woes continued as he had a chance to steady to ship in the third from a slight angle, but hooked it. He only had four disposals across the last three quarters which isn’t what you need from your most explosive forward, particularly when the start promised so much.
He stood up when it mattered in the last quarter, with at least five intercept marks across the centre. It’s exactly what the Dockers needed as they were trapping the ball in their own offensive end, and Lobb thwarted the Lions attack many times. He’s so strong in the air and when he can beat fellow big men like Eric Hipwood and Oscar McInerney in the air, he helps his team immensely. Seven intercept possessions in total and 13 one percenters are defender-like numbers, and the fact that Lobb can achieve this is good signs for the Dockers.
Like Lobb, Harris Andrews looked his usual best against an opponent in Jesse Hogan who was probably the worst player on the ground. Even so, Andrews is clever and drew himself to the contests while Hogan held back or didn’t make any attempt to leap for the ball, perhaps looking for the cheap possession instead of earning it. Andrews had 11 intercept possessions and 10 one percenters along with 10 marks. Without him manning the backline so resolutely, it very well could’ve turned into a big Dockers win.
Simply put, Bradley Hill can run. His blistering speed through the middle of the ground allowed him to put daylight between he and his opponents and even after the sprinting efforts, he steadied while not breaking his stride to put it lace out to a teammate, which seamlessly continued the chain of scoring opportunities or shots at goal. He had nine of his 31 disposals in the last quarter but was most prolific across the back flank and wings.
He was all over the ground, racking up plenty of the ball and it was in his hands when the siren went to mark the end of play. It was largely due to Walters that the Dockers were able to enter their forward 50, as he, like Hill, found space often, even when there appeared to be none. He had six inside 50 entries and four of his five tackles were inside the arc too.
FIVE IMPORTANT DECISIONS
The decision-making from some Fremantle players indicated that they wanted to play on at all costs. And they did, whether that be from a mark, free kick or advantage. Unfortunately, it often resulted in coming into contact with an impeding Brisbane player who looked to be aware that this was the tactic.
It happened to Brennan Cox when he took a mark, and immediately elected to play on despite Josh Walker standing in basically the same spot. David Mundy was awarded an advantage possession at one point as well, but in a sea of players, he had to fend off an opponent as soon as he opted to go, and ultimately proved unsuccessful.
There was a short period in the third quarter where Fremantle were a little sloppy with their small kicks. Luke Ryan, who’s usually so precise, stabbed a kick out from the square to a teammate who was quickly surrounded by three Brisbane attackers. It didn’t provide a turnover, but placed his team under duress when a long ball outside 50 was the wiser move. Rory Lobb tried to kick across goal too after a strong contested mark, but Lewis Taylor intercepted and punished the big man for that mistake. That’s the 80s coach’s lament… kicking across goal. Worse if you’re a ruckman.
The umpires have loved the deliberate out of bounds rule this weekend, and the one paid in this match went against Hugh McCluggage. Everyone knows that when you’re sprinting towards the ball, it can ricochet off the lower half of your body, as it did to McCluggage. It was unintended, and definitely not a worthy free kick, however to one man on the field, l it was. And that man held a whistle.
How Matera’s goal went through is anybody’s guess. Fyfe drew the two defenders to him, leaving an open square for it to bounce in. It was great awareness and thinking by the Fremantle skipper, knowing that he n
eeded to create space for his teammate, however the long kick into space from Nathan Wilson to set it up worked exceptionally well too.
Brisbane’s ability to get across to the other side of the ground and man-up when Fremantle wanted to switch was a real highlight for tactical fans. It held the Dockers up, and they couldn’t find loose men to give them that run they’d displayed earlier. It forced Fremantle to continue going backwards or chipping it a few metres forward, halting whatever momentum they could muster.
FIVE IMPORTANT OUTTAKES
The Lions didn’t give themselves enough chances going forward this week to truly put any damage on the scoreboard. They didn’t score at all in the last 16 minutes of the game and two goalless quarters (one being the fourth) indicated that Fremantle, in the end, deserved the four points. Chris Fagan wouldn’t be pleased with his side’s inability to press forward at crucial stages, nor make the most of their shots at goal when chances beckoned.
These two teams are great midfield users and when there’s a break on, both can get from defensive 50 to offensive 50 in a flash. However, it seemed Brisbane didn’t do a lot of this apart from the first quarter, whereas the Dockers used this to their advantage a lot across the 120 minutes. Is this a bit of a feather in Ross Lyon’s cap, being able to shut down the Brisbane run and carry whilst able to maintain his own?
I don’t like pointing to one incident, but when Jesse Hogan tried to sidestep to throw Josh Walker off, subsequently fell over, and was caught holding the ball, he appeared to argue that he was tripped. He wasn’t Hogan had a below-average game as he was completely outplayed by Andrews. He failed to get into good positions in front of Andrews, waited for the ball to drop to him instead of contesting strongly, and only got on the lead on limited occasions. He took just one uncontested mark up the ground, which makes you wonder what’s happened to the player who was so prolific in the first three quarters of 2018?
Both sides dominated in different parts of the game, but when it mattered most Fremantle took the game on in the final term. Brisbane were great in a showing of second quarter dominance where they didn’t allow it escape their attacking 50, but the Dockers repaid the favour at the most crucial time.
Brisbane’s big men tackle well and were rewarded for their efforts in this one. Dan McStay’s rundown in the forward pocket was a classic example of inside 50 desperation and his conversion gave the Lions a buffer in the third quarter. With so many big guys in the one side, and their versatility to go play at either end, or in the ruck, it gives Chris Fagan a lot of options.
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