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Ballantyne brings speed, skill to Dockers: Lyon

Alex Malcolm  August 1, 2013 5:31 PM

Hird's word, Pies wary and more Jacqui Reed brings you all the latest footy news

Hayden Ballantyne has been sorely missed at Fremantle the past two weeks

It's everything Hayden brings outside of his goalkicking
FREMANTLE coach Ross Lyon believes the inclusion of Hayden Ballantyne adds significant pace and skill as the Dockers prepare to face a Carlton outfit laden with speed at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Ballantyne has missed the past two matches with a hamstring injury, but despite going goalless in four of his last five outings, the exception being a match-winning five-goal haul against St Kilda, the Dockers coach feels the 25-year-old adds an extra element to his side.

"He averages two or three goals per week if you want to go by the numbers," Lyon said at Perth airport on Thursday.

"But it's more than that. He makes us a better team because he works hard for his teammates and allows them to play better footy as well.

"It's everything Hayden brings outside of his goalkicking."

The Blues sit four points outside the top eight with five rounds remaining but Lyon believes they are a much better side than their record suggests.

"They're a really quick team. We see a lot of speed in them," he said.  

"They've been thereabouts all year and their best has been as good as anyone's."

The Dockers have coped with all-comers reasonably well this season but pace has stretched them at times.

Fremantle has lost just twice since round four and it was the pace of Richmond and Geelong that troubled the Dockers on both occasions within the last five weeks.

Lyon said there was no magic tactical formula against sides with speed, just some simple areas to focus on.

"There's not too many tactics except our backs have got to have smart position," Lyon said.

"There's got to be a lot of pressure on the ball carrier, and then there's speed of ball movement - how quickly you can move the ball. So I think Carlton focus on both of those aspects."

Etihad Stadium holds no fears for the Dockers under Lyon, having won all four matches at the venue since he took charge in 2012.

Despite the Dockers significant improvement under Lyon, the coach acknowledges that they still haven't reached the elite bracket of the competition alongside Hawthorn, Geelong and Sydney.

"We need more consistency within our footy," Lyon said.

"I thought to half-time, after the first 10 minutes, we dominated last week.

"We went to sleep in the third quarter and then had to go to work.

"It's about consistency for us and improving those things we've already highlighted.

"There's an urgency to it, but we think we've got a lot of improvement in us."