Fast start Freo
Fremantle will target a fast start against Greater Western Sydney on Sunday, but coach Ross Lyon insists his team will not be playing for a percentage boost against the last-placed Giants at Patersons Stadium.
Slow starts have held Fremantle back in the last month with the team trailing at half time in three of its last four clashes, including against the 16th-placed Melbourne at Etihad Stadium last Saturday.
Against the Western Bulldogs in round 15, Fremantle took a three-point lead into the main break but had kicked just four goals in an uninspiring half of football.
Lyon said Fremantle needed to improve the way it started matches and the opening quarter would be a focus against the Giants, who are travelling to Perth for the first time.
“We’ve tried to start training intensely and different warm-ups and all those sorts of things, [but] I think it’s just executing the basics really well that we haven’t done in first quarters,” the coach said on Friday.
“Last week our stoppage work was poor and our defenders were trailing in. Once they fixed those things, everything turned around … as the game unfolds we tend to get it a bit more right.”
Fremantle’s percentage has risen from 92.7 to 97.6 in the last fortnight, but there is still a significant gap to Geelong (109.4), St Kilda (120.8) and North Melbourne (108.0).
With seven regular season games remaining, however, Lyon described percentage as “irrelevant” and a “side issue”.
He said Gold Coast’s upset win over Richmond in round 16 was a reminder that Sunday’s match is not just an opportunity to notch a big win and boost percentage.
“I don’t think we shy away from the fact that they’ve won one game for the year. We understand that and we have an expectation of going in and winning,” Lyon said.
“But let’s understand they’re not just going to come and just fold like a deck of cards. They’re young, really talented players with some experience that will come and compete. I think you’ve really got to understand and respect that.
“(GWS list manager) Stephen Silvagni is a really good friend of mine and he helped put that list together. What I do know is they picked a lot of competitive beasts. They’re a hard, tough midfield.”
Fremantle will be without forward Chris Mayne (calf tightness) and utility player Greg Broughton (back and finger) against the Giants. Mayne is expected to be available against Port Adelaide in round 18.
Lyon said young star Nat Fyfe was ready to play after making a faultless recovery from a shoulder reconstruction, but a decision was made to give him one more week of full training.
“He was just sitting in my office wanting to know why he wasn’t in the squad,” Lyon said.
“Next weekend he’ll be ready to go. It would be ahead of schedule to have played this week, but next week will be right on schedule.”
Midfielder Anthony Morabito underwent a successful knee reconstruction in Melbourne on Thursday and Lyon said the 20-year-old was “really determined and confident he’ll get back”.
It was Morabito’s second knee reconstruction after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in December of 2010, but Lyon reiterated the club’s commitment to help the No.4 draft pick reach his potential.
“Where we want to go as a club, those young tyros, we need them to turn into champion midfielders, which we’re really confident Anthony can be one.”