Pav needs support: Lyon
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has challenged his team to find match-winners beyond captain Matthew Pavlich after the champion forward delivered a vintage six-goal performance against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
Pavlich has kicked 20 goals in his past four games and he was the driving force in Fremantle’s 38-point win at Patersons Stadium, keeping his team’s finals chances alive.
Lyon described Pavlich’s influence as critical as the 7-7 team moved level on points with eighth-placed St Kilda ahead of three straight matches against bottom-four opposition.
However, the coach stressed that Fremantle needed to “move beyond” Pavlich and have “more bona fide players” consistently delivering at AFL level.
“We’ve got a lot of 40- or 50-game players and 20-game players that have to start playing with a hard, consistent edge and attitude and a hard discipline to what we want,” Lyon said on Sunday night.
“When we get what we want and they play with a hard edge, we’re a pretty good team.
“But when we decide to go down a path that we’re not all committed to, and not disciplined to, it just all rears up late.
“Matthew, myself and the club want to get beyond Matthew.
“You sit on the couch and watch West Coast and it’s more than one. That’s what we’re after.”
Fremantle faces Melbourne (16th), Greater Western Sydney (17th) and Port Adelaide (15th) in the next three weeks and could find itself in the top eight at the end of that stretch.
Key players Nat Fyfe (shoulder) and Aaron Sandilands (toe) should then start returning, while Anthony Morabito (concussion) and Zac Dawson (knee) are expected to be in the team in the next fortnight.
Lyon said his role was to keep the team focused on preparation and staying in the moment rather than looking ahead to the club’s finals chances.
“Whether you’re getting pumped up or getting torn down by supporters or media or your girlfriend, whatever it is, you’ve got to use it to stimulate what’s important,” he said.
“Stay in the moment and prepare, because we know that gives you the best chance.
“If we have a weight of numbers doing that we won’t be distracted. It’s my job to help navigate the group through and make sure they’re not distracted.”
Fremantle had 79 handballs in the first half against the Bulldogs and 46 after half time, and Lyon said that over-handballing had been an issue for his team.
The coach said there was a clear directive to adjust the team’s ball movement in the second half and the players were rewarded with a powerful five-goal bust in the third quarter that set up the win.
“I was really frustrated and the players were too at half-time,” he said.
“Fortunately we came together and recognised the adjustments that needed to be made.
“That’s what we’re after and we want more of it, so Monday to Friday we’re going to have to train more of that – a harder edge, more discipline and less handball, more kick.”
Lyon said midfielder Stephen Hill, who returned from an ankle injury, took a step forward on Sunday, despite being held to eight disposals by respected Bulldogs stopper Liam Picken.
The coach praised defender Antoni Grover, who played his first game for the season but had to be substituted out in the third quarter after taking a knock to the head in a marking contest with Easton Wood.
“We’re really hopeful that he’ll come up and get him ready for Melbourne because players that do that are what you build a club on,” Lyon said.