Five Talking points from round 9
1. A tale of two halves
Scores were level following a ferocious first half punctuated by Freo’s intense attack on the ball and lockdown on the Eagles’ stars. What transpired over the next two quarters was an inexplicable drop-off from the team in purple that left its coach and fans bewildered. Ross Lyon has preached the importance of a four-quarter effort all season and Sunday’s Jekyll and Hyde performance didn’t leave him pleased at all.
2. Defence stands tall
If there could be any positives taken from the disappointing Derby result, it’s the performance of the club’s key defenders. Impenetrable in the first half, Luke McPharlin and co were simply overwhelmed by the quantity of ball West Coast’s forwards saw in the second. Often the receptor of unfair criticism, Zac Dawson stood tall all day, as he has all season, while Alex Silvagni showed why he’s so popular among the fans by competing bravely in his first game of the season.
3. The stats don’t lie
The answers to West Coast’s second-half domination can be found in the statistics. The key indicators after half-time reflected the scoreboard. Freo was smashed 64-30 on the inside 50 count, including just seven entries in the second half. And after trailing the Eagles by 26 uncontested possessions at the main break, the differential ended up being 108 at full-time. Contested marks were close as well at half-time, with the Eagles holding a 9-8 advantage. But by the end of the game, West Coast enjoyed a 20-8 win in the category. Sometimes stats can lie, but not on this occasion.
Ross Lyon has already indicated that no one’s position in the team is safe if the effort required to play AFL football is not met. The coach said post-game that he would be filtering out those who didn’t want to commit 100 per cent and signalled possible debuts for Hayden Crozier and Tom Sheridan, as well as a return to action for Michael Walters. Chris Mayne and Matt de Boer have also be earmarked for midfield roles to inject some pace and intensity into the engine-room.
5. It’s 2012, not 2011
Before a ball had been bounced this season, many experts commented about the ease of Fremantle’s draw following a tough first four weeks. What the first two months of the season has proven is that, thanks to the unpredictability factor, no game of AFL should be considered easy. Going on the 2011 ladder, Freo’s next three games could all have been considered very winnable. The problem is that it’s 2012 and Adelaide, Richmond and Essendon have all improved markedly. The Crows, who Freo face this Saturday at Patersons Stadium, have only lost to Hawthorn and Collingwood this season and sit fourth on the ladder. Flying even higher in second are the Bombers, who would be undefeated if not for a thrilling loss to the Magpies on Anzac Day. The Tigers, meanwhile, are playing excellent football, disposing of top eight sides Sydney and Hawthorn with ease and losing tight contests to Essendon and West Coast in the past month. An MCG date with Richmond will be a massive test for Freo.