Harvey welcomes Freo’s pressure finish
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey says he welcomes the pressure his injury-hit side will face in the closing two rounds of the season as it fights for a crucial home final.
Fremantle missed its opportunity to lock in fifth spot on Saturday as the Sydney Swans snatched a courageous nine-point win at Subiaco Oval with the last two goals of the game.
Freo now travels to face Hawthorn in Tasmania before a round-22 showdown with sixth-placed Carlton that could decide which club hosts a final in the first week of September.
“You’d like to think your team can handle any pressure, so if that presents itself, so be it,” Harvey said after the heartbreaking loss.
“I think the pressure’s on everyone at the moment.
“Whether you’re in and around the area of the eight or you’re around the bottom of the ladder, I think everyone’s under pressure at this particular stage (and) we’re not any different.”
Harvey said star ruckman Aaron Sandilands and goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne were likely to become available in the next two weeks, but they were no certainties to face the Hawks at Aurora Stadium in round 21.
With the injured Sandilands unavailable for the second straight week, Fremantle was comprehensively beaten at the stoppages, losing the clearances 40-28.
“They’re actually what you would call a stoppage team,” Harvey said of the Swans. “We’re still learning our craft in that area, particularly when you haven’t got your No.1 ruckman … he would have helped, obviously.
“You’re probably not going to win too many games when you have  inside 50s.
“At least we were in the forefront of the game for the majority of it, (but) on this particular stage we couldn’t capitalise on the low possession, low inside 50-rate that we had.”
Fremantle’s younger players made telling errors under pressure in the dying stages. Harvey said they would learn from the game, and the disappointing result was not catastrophic.
“Irrespective of what the end result is at the end of the year, it’s not about that, it’s about the way we play and the way individuals learn through pressure situations,” he said.
“Some of our younger players just need to work through that when the game becomes telling … they need to make better decisions.
“Some of our players, when we need to make the ball quicker, are choosing to move the ball slower. We need to address that.”
Midfielder Stephen Hill was held to seven possessions for the second straight match, this week failing to break free of Swan Rhyce Shaw.
Hill’s match last week against North Melbourne stopper Brady Rawlings attracted criticism, but Harvey urged critics to back off the second-year midfielder.
“He’s a kid that’s just learning the game, just give him some breathing space,” the coach said.
“I’m sure all these people … I know they’ll regret what they say about Stephen Hill.
“They go through their highs and lows and Stephen’s no different.”