Current Ladder Position: 4th
Flag Odds: $14.00
ContestedFooty’s start of the year preview
14th-16th I’m probably one of the rare few that don’t always pour scorn over the Dockers for some reason. It could be my consistently low expectations I have of them.
Really; it’s more due to their comprehensive re-build that they are going through with Mark Harvey, that has seen them turn-over way more than any other team over the past few years.
It’s pretty much due to that reason as to why my expectations will be quite low once again for Fremantle this year.
One thing that I’ve overlooked in this preview is the home-game factor. Lucky for Freo, this will help with a few victories and good performances, unfortunately with that, I can’t see much luck coming away from home at all.
The best Freo can really hope for this year, is more experience into their young bunch, which is of good quality and the continuing rebuilding process which gives the fans more hope over for the next few years.
The Dockers have been the surprise packets this season and just over the half way mark of 2010, they sit at 10 wins and 4 losses. Their start to this season has been their best start in over 10 years, which is remarkable, considering they finished last season 14th on the ladder and have now climbed inside the top 4.
Along the way the Dockers have won games interstate in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney which have previously been unwinnable matches and managed to play fantastic football and have shown a lot of skill, determination through not only their more senior players, but along their youths.
Fremantle’s defence have been pretty consistent this season and have had a total of 1212 points conceded this season, which is an average of 86 points per match. The side sits in 8th spot for the amount of points scored against them. Chris Tarrant’s move from the forward line to the backline has been incredible and he has revived his career. He has worked alongside Paul Duffield, Adam McPhee and Kepler Bradley (who has also pushed forward) to produce a fast and strong defensive structure.
The Dockers fast and hard running midfield has probably been the strongest part of their season thus far and is one of the reasons their team has developed the way it has so quickly and suddenly.
The likes of first year players Michael Barlow, Anthony Morabito as well as Rhys Palmer, David Mundy, Stephen Hill, Garrick Ibbotson and skipper Matthew Pavlich have provided non- stop run, speed, endurance and strength to ensure the ball is run freely through the midfield to the forwards.
The Dockers forward line has been relatively strong this season, and they have 9 players who have scored over double figures in goals. While skipper Matthew Pavlich has lead from the font and has kicked 41 goals and 23 behinds this season after returning to the forward line, after spending much of 2009 in a midfield role and currently sits fourth on the Coleman Medal leaderboard.
Alongside Pavlich up forward is Hayden Ballantyne who has kicked 21.16 this season and been very strong, as well as Michael Barlow who has pushed forward from the midfield and kicked an accurate 15 goals and 3 behinds. The fact that the Dockers goals are shared around means that they are more dangerous because they do not rely on the one player to convert.
Aaron Sandilands has been a formidable force this year in the ruck and isthe AFL’s most dominate ruck man heading head first into All Australian selection.
So far this season he has had 511 hitouts (which is 95 more than his closest rival). He has averaged 36 hit outs, 17 possessions and 4 marks per match, which have assisted the midfielders in collecting the ball and moving it forward at a fast rate.
Mark Harvey should be feeling pretty damn good with himself. Since joining the Dockers in 2007 (3 years ago), he has managed to grow his group into a strong force which have moved from a possible bottom four team to a top 4 team. This year his record of 10 wins and 4 losses in the opening fourteen rounds has been his best start as coach. He also recently signed an extension to his contract which should see him at the helm until the end of 2012.
Best Performed Player
Michael Barlow – It is amazing that this year is Barlow’s debut season, the question is; where has he been hiding all this time? At the age of 22 he has become vital to Fremantle’s structure and is one of the most important players in their side with his fast and hard running, great endurance and ability to gain possessions. In his debut season he has average 27 disposals, 5 marks, 1 goal, 5 tackles and 3 inside 50s.
Unfortunately for Barlow, he broke he fibula and tibia bones in his left leg in a sickening clash with a team mate Rhys Palmer in the dying minutes of the Dockers match against Port Adelaide last round. He will be missing the remainder of this season and much of next season recovering.
Fremantle will hope to play out the remainder of the season just the way they started. Coming from 14th on the ladder to 4th on the ladder is a long way and they will not want to go backwards anytime soon, not that it looks like happening.
The Dockers play four current top 4 sides in their last 8 matches for the home and away season and they should win all four. That will guarantee them a top 4 finish with a double chance come finals time.