FREMANTLE has lost consecutive matches for the first time this season after falling to St Kilda by 18 points on Sunday, but coach Mark Harvey says his young side is not tiring.

Fremantle mounted a courageous comeback at Subiaco Oval, kicking five of the game’s last six goals, but its ball-use was below the standard it has set this year.

The side now travels to Etihad Stadium to face Carlton with its top-four spot vulnerable, but Harvey said it was the quality of opposition that undid Fremantle on Sunday, not a tiring side.

“We never played well,” the coach said after the game. “We were always either three or four goals behind, and with St Kilda at some stage you’ve got to ask them to play on you a little bit more.

“Today can be the quality of the opposition – you’ve always got to take that into consideration.”

Harvey praised Hayden Ballantyne (two goals and 19 possessions) and Chris Tarrant, who blanketed Stephen Milne in the second half, while Adam McPhee impressed in a tagging role on star Saint Lenny Hayes.

Beyond that Harvey couldn’t find many positives, with Fremantle’s ball-use going forward the biggest negative.

“We probably didn’t shift their zone around enough with our ball movement,” he said. “We tended to take the more ‘kick along the line’ ball movement rather than move it around and see whether they could cope with that.”

Fremantle called on young ruckman Zac Clarke to stretch St Kilda’s defence, but in just his sixth game the 20-year-old was only able to manage two possessions stationed at full-forward.

“In time Zac is probably going to be somewhere around the ruck area, but [we have to] make sure he has that forward aspect to his game as well,” Harvey said.

“That was more the reasoning behind it… it didn’t necessarily pay off for us.”

Harvey said the side should regain Rhys Palmer next week, after he was withdrawn late with an ankle injury, as well as defender Greg Broughton.

The side was caught one tall defender short on Sunday, with Tarrant required on Milne and Antoni Grover subsequently outplayed by Justin Koschitzke.

With Luke McPharlin still up to six weeks away from resuming with a knee injury, Harvey said he would consider bringing Michael Johnson into the side as soon as his club suspension ends after the mid-season break.

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