Sunday, May 28

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir denies Sydney Swans found Dockers’ weakness, backs defence to bounce back

Dockers coach Justin Longmuir has rubbished suggestions Sydney have found a chink in Fremantle’s armour, predicting his defence will bounce back quickly against Richmond on Friday night.

The Swans’ 17-point win has largely been credited to an important tactical switch after halftime involving a series of short chip kicks to unpick Fremantle’s defensive press.

Sydney racked up 49 uncontested marks in the third quarter alone which swelled to 88 by the end of the second half, as the Swans kicked eight goals to Fremantle’s two.

But Longmuir said his side’s lacklustre defensive response wasn’t the most disappointing aspect of the loss.

“A lot gets made of the way Sydney chipped it around, especially in that third quarter and we were way too slow to react and adjust. We didn’t have the right energy we needed,” he said.

“I think it’s a quick fix, the defensive stuff. We’ve proven that we can defend that type of ball movement all year. It’s been one of our strengths. We just had an off quarter.

“There were other aspects of the game which I was more disappointed in.

“I thought they won the critical contests outside of stoppages. They won the one-on-ones and the critical contests you need to stop them scoring and get field position ourselves.”

Fremantle’s top-four credentials will go under the microscope in a pair of Friday night blockbusters over the next fortnight, starting with the Tigers at Marvel Stadium.

With the Dockers caught in a desperate scrap to secure a finals doubles chance, Longmuir said every game from here on in was crucial.

“They’re all important. They’ve all got great meaning and ramifications,” he said.

“You earn the right to play in these sort of games by putting a good platform down earlier in the season.

“We don’t try and get caught up in outcomes and ladder positions. We need to get back to playing our brand of football for longer. It’s an exciting time of the year.”

Forward Rory Lobb has been cleared of structural damage in his shoulder after being driven into the turf by Swans ruckman Tom Hickey.

Pain is set to be his main barrier to facing the Tiger after training with a red non-contact cap in the rehab group.

“The last couple of days he’s taken a step in the right direction. I’m hopeful,” Longmuir said.

“He’s an important player to us and structures us up well as our second ruck. He’s important. We’ll give him every opportunity.

“His pain is improving every day so it comes down to function.”

While key defender Alex Pearce trained with the main group after missing the past two weeks with a calf injury.

“He’s improved steadily over the past week which is a good sign. Unless he’s 100 per cent he won’t play him,” Longmuir said.

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