Fightback encourages Harvey
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey says he takes heart from his team’s ultimately unsuccessful fight-back against West Coast in a classic Western Derby at Patersons Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After falling 22 points behind halfway through the final term, Fremantle kicked three goals in five minutes to draw within three points, with Hayden Ballantyne hitting the post with a difficult set shot after the siren in a thrilling finale.
Rather than dwell on the disappointment, Harvey said the narrow loss should motivate his team as it embarks on a difficult run home, with six teams locked in a battle for the final three spots in the top eight.
Asked on Sunday night whether it was one of the most heartbreaking losses he’d been involved in, Harvey replied: “No, in fact the exact opposite to that.”
“I thought they were gallant,” Harvey said of his players. “I thought whatever they could give [they gave].
“I’d like to think that we never know when the end is near, so we keep fighting and we did that.
“They (the Eagles) did their normal tactic that they do when they lose momentum, push two blokes behind the ball and we’re aware of that, so we nearly got through.
“I think the nature of the team and its ability to be able to fight through situations like we have over the last six weeks in particular … I think we gained confidence out of that.”
Ballantyne was awarded a free kick from 52m out on the boundary after Eagle Matt Rosa was penalised for deliberate out of bounds in the dying seconds.
Harvey said it was not Ballantyne’s miss that cost his team, but a series of wasted opportunities throughout the match.
“In reality, he nearly got there anyhow, so it doesn’t come down to that kick but it comes down to prior events,” the coach said.
“My first immediate thought was it’s going to be hard to kick a goal from that far out. I was expecting perhaps he might have tried to torpedo it, but you know you’re in the hands of the gods with what the player’s thinking at that particular stage.”
Sunday’s loss was Fremantle’s second in a row to its cross-town rival after enjoying a seven-game winning streak against John Worsfold’s men.
Harvey described the classic encounter as physical, hard and tough and said some of young players were “coming to grips with sustaining things” in that environment.
The coach confirmed that ruckman Jon Griffin, who was subbed out of the game halfway through the third term, had suffered a hip injury, although the extent is unclear.
He said Griffin’s potential absence against Hawthorn at Patersons Stadium next Saturday night would not force him to rush Aaron Sandilands back into the team.