Freo future bright: Sandi
Friday night’s semi-final loss to Adelaide was a tough ending to Fremantle’s encouraging finals campaign, but it could prove the final act in a pivotal season in the club’s history.
On the back of the team’s finals heroics it’s easy to forget Freo’s September dreams were circling the drain with the club sitting 13th on the ladder after round 14 on the back of five losses from six games.
Ross Lyon and his game plan were subjected to some intense scrutiny before a stirring fightback in the second half of the season saw them fall about 10 points shy of participating in a preliminary final.
Fremantle won nine of 10 games, including an upset elimination final win against Geelong, before stumbling against the Crows.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands agrees the performances in the second half of 2012 will give he and his teammates plenty to work with next year and beyond, but the final sting in the tail of the season may prove to be the biggest spur.
“We definitely have improved over the past 12 months, but this result just goes to show that we’ve got to keep improving,” Sandilands said.
“We’ve got to keep working on our game so that when we’re in positions to win games like this, we can finish off.
“The season has been a positive for us to be able to get to this point, but it does show that we’ve got a lot of improving to do.
“We’ve got to have a really big pre-season so that we come out next year and put ourselves in positions to win games of footy like this.”
Fremantle is yet to progress past the preliminary final stage in its 18-year history, but Sandilands is hopeful the club is on the verge of possessing a list capable of changing that.
“We have a pretty young group coming through and all the guys are putting their hearts and souls into becoming the best players they can be,” he said.
“The pressure is really on for spots at selection now and that always helps.
“Guys that have been stepping into the side have been in good form and playing their roles.”
Despite the positive outlook for the team, Sandilands was left to lament the missed chances against Adelaide that brought Freo’s season to an end.
“We definitely had our opportunities, but we dropped away in a few areas, which is where we let ourselves down,” he said of the 10-point defeat.
“That sort of pressure has been a focus for us all year. We’ve got blokes like Chris Mayne, Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters, who put intense pressure on up forward and that sets the standard for the rest of the side.
“We just couldn’t maintain it for four quarters.”