Caleb Serong and Andrew Brayshaw greet fans after the R17 match between Fremantle and Richmond at Optus Stadium on July 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE coach Justin Longmuir didn't want to be a "Debbie Downer" after the Dockers' 51-point win against Richmond but was left thinking about the significant improvement still left in his team after playing at a seven out of 10 level. 

The Dockers won comfortably against a hard-working Tigers team on Saturday night and will finish the round just two points adrift of second-placed Carlton ahead of a trip to Tasmania to take on Hawthorn next Saturday. 

DOCKERS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats

They didn't have it all their way, however, as their clearance game was stripped from them and ruckman Sean Darcy (concussion) and key defender Josh Draper (corked leg) finished the game early with injuries. 

Longmuir said there were positives to take away from a mostly polished performance but also frustrations, including a second quarter that he labelled one of the worst of the Dockers' season. 

"To win by 50 points, you don't want to be Debbie Downer, but I just think we've got so much improvement left in us," he said. 

"After quarter-time we got beaten at clearance, I know mainly on the back of 'Nank' (Toby Nankervis) and I thought he was super for them. 


"He got on top when Sean went out of the game. I think some of that predictability with our ball use left us vulnerable, and some of our intent to pressure and hunt across the game was a little bit inconsistent. 

"We had some good moments and some things that would be a little bit frustrating. I thought we played to probably a seven out of 10."

On the positive side, Fremantle kicked more than 100 points for the fourth time this season and showed it could adjust its game when its stoppage strength was taken away by opposition performances and tactics. 

With star midfielder Caleb Serong tagged by Jack Graham, fellow vice-captain Andrew Brayshaw stepped up to perform brilliantly, with Longmuir warning the Dockers needed to be prepared for opponents to try different tactics to strip the midfield of its weapons. 


Asked if he felt like the third-placed Dockers were being underestimated after 10 wins and a draw from 16 games, Longmuir said he was not bothered if that was the case. 

"Hopefully we sneak up on the comp. I don't think club land see it like that though. I think clubs are preparing for our strengths, hence the numbers up around stoppage," he said. 

"I don't think we're sneaking under the radar in club land. But externally, I don't really get caught up in it.

"I thought we were able to take the confidence out of last week and we applied ourselves pretty well, so you've just got to keep reinforcing who we take our feedback from and keep trying to build."


Longmuir was pleased with the return of key defender Brennan Cox, but doubted captain Alex Pearce would make an early return from a fractured forearm against the Hawks. 

There were options to replace Darcy next week, with key forward Pat Voss kicking six goals in the WAFL and big ruckman Liam Reidy performing well. 

Richmond coach Adem Yze said he could not doubt his team's effort on Saturday night but the Dockers' polish proved too much to overcome. 

Captain Nankervis was highlighted by the first-year coach with his team post-game after a tireless performance in the ruck against Darcy in the first half and then Luke Jackson, winning 11 clearances for his team. 

"He's our captain for a reason. He puts the team on his shoulders and they follow," Yze said. 


"He's done that for the majority of the year, really. But his last month, while we're going through a fair bit of adversity, [he] really is the most competitive guy in our locker room.

"We couldn't ask any more against two really strong ruckmen. I know Darcy went out of the game in the second half, but we're really proud of the captain's effort."

Yze said the Tigers would consider playing Graham in run-with roles through the latter stages of the season after he limited Serong's effectiveness through the first half. 


Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin has not been ruled out of next Sunday's clash against Greater Western Sydney with a back injury, but his availability will depend on how he is feeling early in the week. 

"We've got an eight-day break now, so we'll just be based on his body and if he walks in on Monday or Tuesday and feels like he can train. That's how we have to manage him."