Freo tackling lands fish
Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich conceded few would have given his team much hope against Richmond on Saturday, once the heavens opened up and dumped two quarters of solid rain on the MCG.
But coach Ross Lyon asked his players to give him a solid effort, for longer than they did against Adelaide last week, and pressure the uncontested ball-loving Tigers into submission.
That they did. They tackled hard – laying 118 (a new club record) – and adapted to conditions the Tigers would have been much more familiar with than the Western Australian side.
Afterwards, following a question about whether he felt relief at his team snapping a three-game losing streak, Lyon said he didn’t have many feelings himself.
But he certainly was pleased for his players – and captain Matthew Pavlich, who kicked six goals – for their breakthrough win at the MCG.
“I’m just happy for the players, who have never wilted with effort to get some reward, and I thought we were terrific for three quarters against Adelaide but three quarters doesn’t get it done,” Lyon said.
“[For] probably three quarters and 90 per cent, [we] were pretty good and you get it done, so it’s good.”
As important as Pavlich’s six goals were, so was his leadership.
“I thought Matthew really led from the front. When you come interstate, you really need your leaders … and everyone’s hungry to be led,” Lyon said.
“[With] our young players, I though Matthew has been doing that and he got reward for his persistence of giving effort at training with hitting the scoreboard.”
The performance came after Pavlich recently said he needed to “lead the team better”.
“Ross admits it at times. I think any leader in any organisation who thinks they’re perfect has another thing coming,” Pavlich said.
“I’m not immune to feedback from the group, and I’m not immune to getting things wrong.
“I think it’s a good check every now and then to be honest and open, and it was a nice result today.”
Lyon was pleased with Ryan Crowley’s shut down role against Brett Deledio, and said the decision to tag the senior Tiger rather than try and blanket midfielder Trent Cotchin was a “pick your poison” call.
But he was more pleased by the team’s overall defence and how it had grown, which was reflected in the way Crowley was able to execute his role.
As Fremantle heads into its bye, ahead of the next assignment against Essendon on June 23, Lyon said he was starting to get a handle on the capabilities of the team he took over in September last year.
“I know when I went to the Swans as an assistant it took me 12 months to understand their midfield,” he said.
“There’s no doubt when I got my senior job [at St Kilda] it took me 12 months to understand that group.
“We’ve been sorting the chaff from the wheat, to borrow one of my dad’s old expressions, as we go, so understanding the capabilities and situational ‘who can do things’ … that’s a work in progress.
“I think it can work both ways with a new coaching group as well coming together, just getting each other a little bit, and that takes time to build that trust.”