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Mid-season review: Fremantle

Freo's mid-season report card Travis King reports on the Dockers
Lachie Neale has picked up where he left off last season - AFL,Fremantle Dockers,Mid-season reviews
Lachie Neale has picked up where he left off last season

The season so far

Freo's campaign has been eventful to say the least. The Dockers were battening down the hatches amid a storm of criticism after a 0-2 start, revived their season in stunning fashion over the next seven rounds but then undid some of their good work by limping into the bye. An influx of youth after the round two belting from Port Adelaide injected some life, while the senior players in midfield led from the front as Freo surged up to fifth. The Dockers won close games against the Dogs, Melbourne, North and Richmond, which perhaps inflated their ladder position considering their percentage was the fifth-worst after nine rounds. But three-straight losses without Aaron Sandilands before the bye – including thumpings from Adelaide and the struggling Lions – has reminded that this is a rebuilding year.

Quarters won: 18

Players used: 32

Yet to play: Michael Apeness, Hayden Ballantyne, Harley Bennell, Zac Clarke, Sean Darcy, Josh Deluca, Taylin Duman, Ryan Nyhuis, Alex Pearce, Luke Strnadica, Matthew Uebergang

Stats leaders

Disposals: Lachie Neale (330)
Marks: Bradley Hill (86)
Goals: Cam McCarthy (16)
Tackles: Lachie Neale (54)
Metres gained: Bradley Hill (449m)
Hit-outs to advantage: Aaron Sandilands (131)

Best win

Round 4, Melbourne. There have been some stirring come-from-behind victories – and you could mount a case for wins over the Dogs or Tigers - but peeling-off a nine-goal third term, losing the lead in the last quarter and having recruit Cam McCarthy toe-poke the match-winner at the MCG was thrilling stuff.

One that got away

Round 11, Collingwood. The Magpies were down to 18 fit men and with scores level early in the final term the Dockers seemed primed for another comeback win, but Collingwood dug deep to notch a gutsy 20-point triumph – one of the best under Nathan Buckley.

Best and fairest leader: Lachie Neale

Surprise packet: Connor Blakely

Who's struggling: Zac Dawson, Garrick Ibbotson, Danyle Pearce, Nick Suban, Cameron Sutcliffe

Missing in action

Hayden Ballantyne. There's a few to pick from – including Harley Bennell, Zac Clarke and Alex Pearce – but Ballantyne was ready to go before ripping his hamstring tendon in the JLT Community Series and then suffering another setback in his return game for Peel.

The concern

Slow starts have been a problem all season. Freo's comeback wins masked the issue but the last three losses before the bye the Dockers trailed by a combined 65 points at quarter-time. They have won only three first quarters for the season – the equal-worst record in the competition.

Pass mark

The Dockers are in a rebuilding stage, so pumping games into the kids and working out who is worth persevering with - while not completely giving the season away - has to be top of the agenda. Another 2-4 wins and more signs of a bright future would be a good result.

David Mundy's after-the-siren winner against Richmond was an unforgettable moment. Picture: AFL Photos

The coach

Ross Lyon came under intense scrutiny when Freo dropped to a shocking 0-2 start, but an investment in youth paid off. The Dockers played with effort and intensity in six wins from the next seven games, but a young side dropped away badly before the bye. There are promising signs, but Freo still relies heavily on Aaron Sandilands and the forward line needs work.

How the best 22 has changed

Some of Lyon's stalwarts have made way for the next generation, with Zac Dawson dropped after the round two debacle while Garrick Ibbotson and Danyle Pearce have also lost their spots. Brady Grey keeps injured goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne out of the team for now, while the last bench spot could be raffled between the likes of Griffin Logue, Tommy Sheridan, Sam Collins and Matt Taberner.

B: Lee Spurr, Joel Hamling, Luke Ryan
HB: Cam Sutcliffe, Michael Johnson, Lachie Weller
C: Stephen Hill, David Mundy, Bradley Hill
HF: Ed Langdon, Shane Kersten, Hayden Crozier
F: Michael Walters, Cam McCarthy, Brady Grey
R: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, Lachie Neale
I/C: Connor Blakely, Darcy Tucker, Ethan Hughes, Brennan Cox

In from pre-season best 22: Brennan Cox, Brady Grey, Ethan Hughes, Luke Ryan

Out from pre-season best 22: Zac Dawson, Garrick Ibbotson, Jonathon Griffin, Danyle Pearce

Who did we tip for your club's best 22 in round one? 

Dockers fans: what's your mid-season verdict?

Share your views via the form below and we'll publish the best responses on the morning of Fremantle's next match.

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