Hayden Young celebrates a goal during Fremantle's clash against Gold Coast in round 15, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

GOALKICKING midfielders could develop into the crucial new weapon in Fremantle's long quest to get more "bang for buck" as the Dockers prepare for a battle between the AFL's clearance kings at the SCG on Saturday. 

Fremantle is the League's No.1 stoppage side this season, winning an average of 8.8 more clearances than their opponents across the year, ahead of No.2 ranked side and this week's opponent Sydney (+4.1). 

But factors including accuracy and mid-forward connection have held back the Dockers' scoring power from the source in a bugbear for coach Justin Longmuir, who wants more scoring "bang for buck" from his team's major strength.

The Dockers' midfielders showed a new side to their game, however, in an impressive performance against Gold Coast on Sunday that could prove the key, with Hayden Young (three goals), Caleb Serong (one) and Andrew Brayshaw (one) all hitting the scoreboard. 

It was the first time this season they had all kicked goals in the same game, and predictably the first time ever given Young has previously played as a defender up until making the move to the midfield late last year. 


Serong and Brayshaw have combined for goalkicking games just seven times in four previous seasons together. 

Part of the strategy to get more goals out of the midfield on Sunday was rotating them through the forward line, while it was clear that the trio also had an attacking mindset when they won clearances.

Dockers' score sources

R15 v GCS

Season Ave


Points from turnover

42 Pts

46.9 Pts


Points from clearance

43 Pts

33.1 Pts


"We were able to score from stoppage, which was nice," Longmuir said after the win, which sent the Dockers to fifth on the ladder with an 8-5-1 record. 

"We went in with an extra mid, and we got them rotating through the forward line a little bit more.


"We like what we see, especially with Young and Caleb deep. They're elite at winning contests in the middle of the ground, so if they win contests in the forward line, it usually results in a goal or a shot on goal. 

"I thought they got they got forward out of the midfield at the right times and some of it was off the back of just positioning the way we want to position and lateral kicks. It was good to see they finished the work off."

Best points from clearance sides




Western Bulldogs












The Dockers midfielders will go up against the best in the AFL this week when it comes to goalkicking midfielders.

Of the top 50 ball-winning midfielders this season, Swans Chad Warner (24 goals) and Isaac Heeney (21), and Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli (22), are well clear of the field as goalkicking threats. Sydney wingman Errol Gulden (10) is in a pack of eight midfielders who have between 10-14 goals. 

The Swans trio combined for three goals in Saturday's win against Greater Western Sydney, with Heeney going goalless for just the second time this season and the first time since meeting Fremantle in round nine.

Swans clearance to I50 and score %


Per cent


Defensive 50



Defensive Midfield



Centre Bounce



Attacking Midfield




Dockers clearance to I50 and score %


Per cent


Defensive 50



Defensive Midfield



Centre Bounce



Attacking Midfield



There is clear cause for optimism that the Dockers are going to turn their clearance dominance into a more prominent scoring source, with the team's 43 points from clearances against Gold Coast coming soon after their season-best 51 points in the round 12 thrashing of Melbourne. 

Sunday's clash against the Swans will give the talented group an indication of where they sit in the bigger scheme of things this season, with Longmuir approaching the contest with confidence. 

"I think they'll go well. We haven't been beaten in the midfield much this year," the coach said. 

"We've been pretty tough, really competitive through there, and obviously that's their strength. So it's going to be a good battle."