Alex Pearce nurses an arm injury after Fremantle's win over Gold Coast in R15, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE faces a nervous wait on the availability of key defender Alex Pearce for next Saturday's clash against ladder leader Sydney after the captain was substituted with a forearm injury in Sunday's 20-point win against Gold Coast.

Pearce, who is in All-Australian form, landed awkwardly on his arm in a marking contest with Sam Day in the third quarter at Optus Stadium and was substituted after leaving the ground immediately for assessment.

Coach Justin Longmuir didn't rule the gun backman out for his team's crucial clash at the SCG but said Pearce would need to be assessed further.


"He's got a sore arm. It's all I can give you at the moment, we haven't had an update from the doc," Longmuir said on Sunday night. 

"Clearly he was worried about it coming off but I don't think the doc's found anything clear cut. So we'll have to wait and see how it pulls up and see whether it needs a scan.

"Not ruling Pearcey out … he's tough. Hopefully there's no structural damage and hopefully we get some good news."

DOCKERS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats

The coach said Fremantle would be unlikely to recall key defender Brennan Cox, who played managed minutes in the WAFL reserves in his first match back from a serious hamstring injury in round one. 

It could leave the Dockers' backline thin on tall experience if Pearce is unavailable, with 20-year-old Josh Draper the most likely option to earn a recall after he was replaced by 19-year-old debutant Hugh Davies against the Suns.

"I don't think we'll be willing to take that risk," Longmuir said of the prospect of Cox returning ahead of schedule.


Longmuir was proud of his team's response to a disappointing road loss against the Western Bulldogs, with the players "valuing the right things" after a public challenge during the week.

The Dockers climbed to fifth on the ladder on the back of "trademark efforts" with their pressure, contest and team defence, which the coach said had been deprioritised against the Bulldogs in favour of chasing possessions.

"I'd never say anything in public that I wouldn't say to the players face to face, so I thought today they came out and responded and played the way we wanted to play," Longmuir said.


"I was happy with the intent. I thought we valued the right things, speaking about it all week.

"I thought our trademark efforts were up so it was positive bounce back."

The coach was full of praise for his midfielders, who rotated forward more and became a scoring source, with Hayden Young (three goals), Andrew Brayshaw (one) and Caleb Serong (one) all hitting the scoreboard.

On the midfield group's prospects against Sydney, the coach said: "I think they'll go well. We haven't been beaten in the midfield much this year. We've been pretty tough, really competitive through there, and obviously that's their strength. So it's going to be a good battle."


Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick said his team had some "soul searching" to do to improve its contested game after losing both the contested ball (69-53) and the clearances (22-11) convincingly in the first half.

After the Suns kicked the opening two goals of the game, the Dockers kicked eight of the next nine goals to set up a match-winning 35-point lead.

"We're disappointed with our last game and we're disappointed with this one as well, so we've got some things we've got to get better at and a little bit of soul searching inside to get our contested game back to where we know it can be," the coach said.

"The last quarter we got the game looking a bit more Suns-like, but to give up those eight goals in that period and to get belted around the clearance like that was really disappointing.


"We changed our midfield mix. Will Graham was outstanding when in the middle and really stood up. We moved (Sam) Flanders in through there as well and they made a difference.

"We've got to keep rotating guys through there that can get the ball going our way because at the moment we're probably a little bit inconsistent with that.

"It's on me to coach our boys better. But it's also on us to respond as a footy club, I reckon."