Ballantyne good, not great: Lyon
Fremantle antagonist Hayden Ballantyne cast himself as hero and villain in Saturday night’s thrilling clash with Geelong at Patersons Stadium, and he left his coach wanting more.
The fiery forward, who is pushing into the midfield this season, won 20 disposals and had six inside 50s in Fremantle’s four-point win against the reigning premier.
He also kicked two second-half goals, the latter of which gave the home team a five-point lead 10 minutes into the final quarter.
However, the 24-year-old’s most memorable involvement came early in the third quarter when he drew a left-hook from Matthew Scarlett, which landed the champion Geelong full-back on report.
Ballantyne could come under scrutiny from the Match Review Panel himself for an off-the-ball incident involving Paul Chapman late in the first quarter.
Asked post-match what he made of Ballantyne’s approach on Saturday night, Fremantle coach Ross Lyon defended his livewire forward.
“Round one’s an emotional game, and there was bodies flying, there was niggle,” Lyon said. “I don’t think he sucked anyone in to be frank.
“I think both teams gave away some free kicks through lack of discipline, that was costly, and I think both coaches would be unhappy with that, I know I am.
“In particular, I don’t think Hayden had a brilliant night at all. I think he did a couple of things and if anything I think he was below expectations.”
Fremantle made a rampant start to its first match under Lyon, booting five unanswered goals in the first 12 minutes to build a 30-point lead.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands, who was returning from a calf injury, led the early charge and Lyon said his star big man had finished unscathed.
“I thought he was influential early with some of those contested marks down the line, which is a big play now,” the coach said. “If you can mark it you get through the press.
“He got weary, and they did a couple of things tactically like made him chase a little bit. I thought we adapted to it.
“I just thought it was a really courageous effort from the big man after three weeks of not playing with the calf … we’ll have to manage him and be delicate.”
Geelong got on top through the second quarter on the back of gun midfielders Joel Selwood, James Kelly, and Jimmy Bartel, taking a five-point lead into the main break.
While gun youngster Nat Fyfe (30 possessions and two goals) was a constant threat for the home side, Lyon said he had to refocus his players at half-time.
“I just thought we went away from some of the things we planned to do, which is about maturity and discipline,” Lyon said.
“I certainly wasn’t thrilled at half-time after the second quarter. It’s a quarter I didn’t like.
“I thought our effort was good and if we went back to working together, and got a bit organised, we’d be well and truly in the game and would run it out, which we did.”