Injuries ‘no excuse’
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey has refused to use his team’s growing injury toll as a reason for its poor showing against Melbourne on Sunday.
Fremantle lost to the Demons by 89 points without senior players David Mundy, Aaron Sandilands, Kepler Bradley, Adam McPhee and Nick Suban, among others.
It suffered further woe when Antoni Grover (adductor) and Ryan Crowley (back spasms) came from the ground during the loss.
“If we look to injury and losing two players throughout the course of the game, under that duress your players become a little more fatigued than normal, but reality is they should be able to hold their own regardless,” Harvey said after the defeat.
“You can have as much structure as you like but if you blatantly turn the ball over, particularly backward of the centre, you are going to pay an enormous penalty.”
Harvey said skill errors were a main reason for the final margin.
“You can make a mistake under pressure and it is up to the player to make sure he doesn’t make that mistake again. The blatant ones are the ones that really off-loaded the team and gave the team no chance and we have to work harder because of it,” he said.
“You’ve got to give credit to Melbourne the way they played, but if you give it straight back to them in certain areas of the ground you’re going to get punished badly and quickly.
“The whole mindset of the opposition changes. They go from wondering or thinking their way through situations to just going on the attack.”
The loss was Fremantle’s 10th consecutive defeat at the MCG, having not won since April, 2007.
Harvey said he was not concerned at any perceived hoodoo, instead pointing to the circumstances of each rare trip to the home of football.
“I think we’ve played here four times in the last two years. We would have liked to have had more experience out there playing during that time,” he said.
“If you go back to the final last year (against Geelong) we had a few injuries ourselves. It’s not the ground, hopefully we have our moment at the right time.”
One positive for Freo was the return from a broken leg of midfielder Michael Barlow.
Barlow had a team-high 25 possessions and while his disposal was not as efficient as he may have hoped for, Harvey said he would improve as he gets more game time.
“He’s got that unique, uncanny ability to be able to find the ball. He’s still progressing with his feel for the game but you could say he had his moments,” he said.
“He got tackled a few times, he’s got some tricks and I’m sure in coming weeks you’ll find he’ll be able to expose that a lot more than he did today.”
Harvey said he was hopeful that next week’s game against the Brisbane Lions would see the inclusions of Ballantyne, Sandilands and Bradley, who was a last-minute withdrawal with patella tendonitis.