Fremantle coach Mark Harvey has expressed his pride at his young team’s season, despite the heavy defeat against Geelong that abruptly ended the club’s 2010 campaign.

The Cats jumped the visitors early at the MCG and were never really challenged on their way to a 69-point semi-final win.

“I thought we fought hard all night, but we were outclassed,” Harvey said.

“Geelong has always got those four or five extra players who, when the game’s in the balance or when they need to put a space in the game, they can just hurt you so quickly and that’s where we need to get to.

“In time when they get bigger and stronger, we might be able to see that.

“A lot of our younger players, in particular, have got to learn how to feel their way through … the game. Sometimes they pulled the trigger a little bit too quickly or they get time to set up and they turn the ball over and that can be costly.”

Harvey gathered his players in a tight huddle on the ground shortly after the final siren and he said his message had been a simple one.

“Basically [it was] not to assume that we’ll be back here this time next year because if you think that, you’ll disappear quickly out of the finals race,” he said.

“That was the main point and to learn as much as you can by the experience of the last two weeks, particularly the younger players who had their first real hitout in a finals series.

“We didn’t tonight but we can match it with the teams that have been perceived as being the top teams in the competition. We certainly haven’t been able to do that in the last couple of years.”

Ruckman Aaron Sandilands had little influence on the night as he was clearly affected by the knee injury suffered against Hawthorn in the elimination final. The full extent of the damage is still not known but Harvey defended the decision to play him.

“Is there any posterior cruciate ligament damage? We don’t really know yet because there’s so much fluid there,” he said.

“He obviously wasn’t at his full capacity tonight and we got pretty messed up in the centre square.

“[But] if the big bloke says that he wants to play, well, you try telling him he’s not playing. He’s got a very steely resolve about pain or saying that I’m playing no matter what sort of injury. He … knows that the team needs him so he put his hand up.

“We know what we’re doing … we’ve had scan after scan and that’s all you can do.”

Freo’s chances suffered another blow early with veteran Des Headland, a late call-up for Jesse Crichton, sustaining a grad two medial ligament strain that hindered him all night.

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