Parochialism is great, but only when there is an alternate view you can use to balance things out. There is no way both sets of supporters ever walk away from a game feeling completely satisfied. There is always a winner and a loser… or two teams that played to a draw and no one is happy.
In order to capture the feelings and thoughts of both teams, irrespective of the outcome, Nick Sluggett and HB Meyers went into watching this game as fans with eyes only for one team. The Slugger was all about the Purple Haze, whilst HB wore the red and white of the Mighty Swans.
Below is the dual review from two Mongrels with very different perspectives on the game. It’s the Dockers and Swans. Two Mongrels. Two points of view. One article. And one winner.
WHO WAS THE MATCH WINNER?
FREO – This is as big of a 50/50 split as you can get. It just depends where you put the most value. On one hand, you have Luke Ryan. The premium defender on the ground. Winner of the O’Loughlin-Goodes medal for best on ground in the match. Ryan had 12 intercept possessions and 26 disposals and really seems to have assumed the role as leader of the Dockers defence.
Then you have Matthew Taberner. Only 12 disposals for Taberner, but nine marks (including four contested) to go along with two goals. Taberner has had some moments this season and is really a beacon of consistency in this Dockers side.
Now, I’m a sucker for a key forward, but like the judges I finished on the Ryan side of this coin but could definitely be talked around. Taberner probably finished a goal or two short.
SYDNEY – Well, in a nutshell, there wasn’t one, and that is only part of the problem.
Actually, I lie – there were a few match winners, but they were all playing for Freo. Taberner, Brayshaw and Ryan were excellent whilst if you want to know who our best were, I’d throw out the names of Rowbottom, Cunningham and Jordan Dawson as the main three contenders.
WHERE DID WE WIN/LOSE THE GAME?
FREO –Defensive structures.
When we made our move in the second quarter, it was on the back of our repeat entries. Those chaotic ones that come from relentless pressure on the opposition defence and midfield.
Assisting this fact was the strong efforts from our defenders such as Ryan and Brennan Cox, in these situations, playing against bigger opponents and still consistently out marking them. It was an absolute treat and we had some class finishes from the likes of Frederick and Taberner.
SYDNEY – All over the park.
One goal in three quarters of footy is simply never, ever good enough. Our mids were beaten pretty soundly which placed the defenders under enormous pressure. We were already outmanned with Rampe and Aliir missing so we had blokes like Robbie Fox having to play tall – that spelt trouble right from the outset.
We had no real risk about our game. if Horse is teaching the youngsters a defensive style and taking his lumps in the interim, so be it, but there comes a time you have to take the game on and it seemed as though we were either unable or unwilling to do that.
IF YOU WERE COACH, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
FREO – If I’m coach, I’m not changing much. Justin Longmuir did pretty well tonight. But if you forced me, I’m probably looking for better execution around the stoppages (this is not centre clearances). I understand the Swans were rolling a spare up from their forward line, which was giving us our advantage in defence and that we broke even in the final count, but we need to better when we get our opportunities around the ground and give our defence an even better position to set-up and defend from.
SYDNEY – At the selection table, amongst other places.
With the knowledge that Freo have Taberner and Lobb up forward, maybe a tall defender could have been pretty bloody helpful…
Aliir would have been very handy, but failing that, give Sam Reid a run in defence. It’s not like he was doing much of value as a forward…
Right from the outset I would have sent Wil Hayward to Luke Ryan and instructed him to sit on him all game. Don’t worry about making your own leads or contesting the footy as the third man up – just lock that bloke down and make someone else beat us across half back.
Hayward did a great job on Nick Haynes last week, and I was hoping to see him repeat the dose this week. Alas, Ryan was awarded the best on ground medal instead.
I know it is easier to say than do, but whenever Brennan Cox was matched up on either one of Sam Reid or Tom McCartin, you have to use that man. If you cut Freo’s rebounding off at the knees, you can put them away, but we didn’t even begin to do that. Both Ryan and Cox were dominant, and there was little our forwards could do about it.
Also, a pressure forward is desperately needed. We had two tackles inside 50 all game. Two!
I know Freo had two as well, but they were also kicking goals, so you give them a bit of a pass on it. One of our goals came directly from one of those tackles – imagine we were able to lay a few more?
Captain Hindsight stuff, I know.
MOST UNDERRATED PERFORMANCE
FREO – Hard to split a few names here. Mundy, Shultz, Serong and Brayshaw would all have been deserving. However, this is the Mongrel and the player who had the underrated game was Reece Conca. What a job he did on Papley! Conca shut down the Swans most dangerous target and outside of a blunder or two in the first quarter was still effective for the defence in transition. Loved his game and his relentless pursuit of Papley all the way to the final siren. That’s the Mongrel spirit.
SYDNEY – I’m tempted to say Rowbottom, but I genuinely believe people are starting to have their eyes opened on him now and being underrated isn’t something that’ll be married up with his name.
Of the others, probably Harry Cunningham. Did his job well, which is about the best compliment I can offer anyone from this game wearing red and white.
THE MOMENT THAT MATTERED MOST?
FREO –Frederick’s long bomb with 3 minutes left in second quarter was a classic moment that deserved consideration. And Liam Henry threatened several times on debut, and I was hoping he would deliver in a big way as much as the locals were.
I settled on the first bounce of the third quarter. Fyfe gathers and is tackled immediately. Fashions a kick to Brayshaw who send a long handpass out to Mundy who gives a disrespectful fend-off on Rowbottom (Seriously it was powerful). Sends the ball long to a one-on-one, which Taberner inhales. Taberner snaps the goal and the Dockers don’t look back.
SYDNEY – We kicked one goal for three quarters, yet could have had the first of the game when Tom McCartin did all the right thins EXCEPT take the mark 30 metres out from goal.
He’d beaten his opponent, stood up in the contest, got both hands to the pill and… just dropped it. It pains me to see those kinds of things – the Swans are not a high-scoring team. We needed someone to put the pressure on the Freo defenders and keep them honest. McCartin let them off the hook in a big way early on, then as their confidence grew, they put the distance between the teams.
I’m not saying that dropped mark cost the game or anything outlandish like that, but when you have the chance to hit the scoreboard early, it pays to take it; you never know when the next opportunity will come.
WHICH PLAYERS LET US DOWN THE MOST?
FREO –I had Rory Lobb in this slot for most of the night. He wasn’t necessarily bad. Just has to hold his marks. He hurt himself in the third quarter which didn’t look like helping, but instead, I think they used his time on the bench to put some glue on his hands, as he started clunking them shortly after. He bloody finished with an equal game-high five contested marks! He made me look stupid for doubting him.
I finally settled on Darcy. He wasn’t terrible but I thought he should be giving more to the team. He did lead Freo in score involvements but failed to take a mark or lay a tackle. This coupled with only one one-percenter and I think he’s got to be doing a bit more to support his midfielders. I understand this is a role he is still growing into, and I mean this as only the slightest of clips.
SYDNEY – Oh wow… how long have you got?
Sam Reid kicking 0.3 in a team that kicked two goals hurts.
James Bell looked nowhere near it.
I don’t want to get on our defenders because they were basically asked to do things they shouldn’t. Someone texted me saying Melican was being killed… he was playing on one of the form forwards in the comp. I’m not sure he should have had that matchup.
Josh Kennedy looked a little out of sorts, but that is to be expected after being out for a while.
And Luke Parker… I often hear the word “star” bandied about in regard to him. Not tonight.
PLAYER FROM THE OPPOSITION I ADMIRED MOST IN THIS GAME?
FREO – Rowbottom. This guy fought all night. I don’t know how old he is, but he went toe-to-toe with the likes of Mundy and Fyfe multiple times and more than held his own in the contest (outside of one disastrous fend-off he won’t want replayed). I’ve got nothing but respect for this kid. Those two are monster midfielders with huge strength. Hopefully, he can continue his development. A nod also goes to Melican who held up the Swans defence in my opinion.
SYDNEY – Take your pick from Taberner, whose marking in the first half created a chasm between the teams in terms of ability to drag down grabs. Or Luke Ryan, who would have nicely made up for the absence of Dane Rampe…
… oh, how we missed Dane Rampe.
FREO – I got first choice of team in this game and chose Freo – I tell you what, it was a good night to be a Dockers fan. I thoroughly enjoyed this game. There is so much promise in this side. Between Cox and Ryan in defence. To Brayshaw, Serong and Aish through the middle of the ground. And with Taberner and Schultz up forward, with a fantastic debut from Henry. The future looks exciting. And when you put it together like tonight (although against the Swans who aren’t travelling that well and have had some of the worst injuries) you can see they’re not far away. This year may not be our year, but we’re having some fun building our future team and we should get a couple of players into the All-Australian team as well.
SYDNEY – After the win against Sydney, you could expect that the Swans would have been feeling pretty upbeat about this game. With a nine-day break, they should have felt refreshed and ready to mix it up, but they were second to the footy, and both wasteful and sloppy with the ball in hand.
If the rest of the year is a wash, then let’s start playing kids in meaningful roles. James Rowbottom is a gem and has put his hand up as our number one mid of the future, but tucking Wicks, Bell and Foot all into the forward line hoping they bob up and do something isn’t exactly preparing them to take the next step.
I don’t expect many Swan fans to read this, so for what it’s worth, well done to Fremantle – we were outworked, outmuscled, outcoached and outplayed for the majority of the game. A thoroughly deserved victory
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