Sport AFL Lyon: Fremantle must lift before AFL opener

Lyon: Fremantle must lift before AFL opener

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Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has warned last year’s AFL grand finalists that no-one should feel comfortable about being in their round-one team.

Lyon had mixed emotions after the Dockers overcame a 14-point deficit at halftime on Wednesday night to beat the Western Bulldogs by 28 in their pre-season match.

The Dockers’ second term was poor and Lyon said there was plenty to fix before the start of the regular season.

“Everyone is still picking themselves, our team is far from finalised (for round one),” Lyon said.

“A lot of people did themselves some favours – there were a few efforts we didn’t like, not hard enough at times.

“We don’t shy away from that – we need to get a bit harder, more consistently.”

Key forward Scott Gumbleton continued his shocking run of injuries in the AFL when he was forced off in the first term.

He hurt his hamstring, but Fremantle hope it will only keep him out of action for three weeks.

Lyon felt for Gumbleton, but also called on him to not drop his bundle.

Gumbleton has had a strong pre-season since being traded from Essendon to Fremantle.

“When you invest so much and you see that investment slip away in the short-term … but longer-term, all that work he’s done should pay off,” Lyon said.

“In the end, you get what you deserve.

“He’s worked really hard and hopefully the wheel will turn for him.”

Gumbleton’s injury could open the way for Zac Clarke to return.

He suffered a knee injury at a Victorian music festival over the Christmas break.

Lyon joked that the plight of team-mates such as Gumbleton could mean Clarke emulates speed skater Steven Bradbury, who famously won an Olympic gold medal when rival competitors fell around him.

Fremantle’s No.1 big man Aaron Sandilands was best afield, with the giant ruckman at one stage even leading them in ground balls.

“Great credit to him, but it was probably a strong indicator that the mids (midfielders) needed to lift,” Lyon said.

Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney praised his team’s effort and intensity, but said they let Fremantle score too easily at times.

Forwards Tom Williams and Shaun Higgins returned to the side from long-term injuries without incident.

In further good news, new captain Ryan Griffen (back tightness) and fellow key player Robert Murphy (elbow) are strong chances to be available for round one.

“We are confident they will both be right when it starts,” McCartney said.

“The key thing is to get enough hard running into them and Murph can do that and Griff is an incredible athlete so he will be fine.”