Tall order for Derby
Defender Antoni Grover says Fremantle has the personnel in defence to handle West Coast’s tall forward line in what shapes as a key battleground during Sunday’s high-stakes Carlton Mid Derby.
Grover, key defender Luke McPharlin and young backman Alex Silvagni will likely line-up on the Eagles’ three-pronged attack of Josh Kennedy, Quinten Lynch and Jack Darling, with sharpshooter Mark LeCras also looming as a threat.
Grover acknowledged that the fifth-placed Eagles’ revamped forward line had become a key to their success this year but said the Fremantle defenders would back themselves on Sunday.
“I think the main aspect of our defence is that were a very competitive group,” Grover said from Fremantle Oval. “It doesn’t matter who we come up against, we’re going to give it our best shot.
“They (the Eagles) are a bit taller and their skills have been much improved from last year, and obviously their pressure skills are at the top echelon.
“I’d rather play on a taller forward line than a smaller one.”
Kennedy, Lynch, Darling and LeCras were well held against the Saints in round 17, combining to kick two of the team’s nine goals under the roof at Etihad Stadium.
The quartet has kicked a combined 96 goals this season, with Kennedy the most productive, sitting fourth in the Coleman Medal race with 41 goals.
McPharlin, who is in career-best form as a defender after another terrific performance against Swans youngster Sam Reid, would be the most likely of Fremantle’s defenders to match-up on Kennedy if he escapes suspension.
“He’s been terrific. In my personal opinion he’s in All-Australian form,” Grover said of McPharlin.
“It gives me great confidence going out standing side by side with him and I know the other defenders think the same.”
Fremantle faces the possibility of consecutive defeats against West Coast for the first time since 2005 if it falls short on Sunday, with victory likely to catapault the team into serious top-four calculations.
Star ruckman Aaron Sandilands and key midfielder David Mundy are closing in on returns, although they are unlikely this week, with Nick Suban in line for selection against the Eagles after making a solid return from a broken leg through the WAFL.
“Every game until the end of the season is going to be important for us for where we sit on the ladder,” Grover said.
“You just have to look at the logjam that’s in and around us. We’re going to have to make sure we make every post a winner.”