ROSS Lyon admits Hawthorn star Tom Mitchell's rampant start against Fremantle wasn't "ideal" but believes tagger Bailey Banfield learned valuable lessons trying to restrict the Brownlow Medal favourite in Sunday's 59-point belting.
Banfield wasn't sent to Mitchell from the opening bounce and the Hawks ball magnet set the visitors on the path to a comfortable victory with a dominant start.
Mitchell extracted four centre clearances and had 11 disposals in the opening term alone, before finishing with 42 touches, eight inside 50s, seven clearances and two goals.
Banfield tried to clamp down on Mitchell, but it's almost certain he pocketed another three votes.
HAWKS CRUSH DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
Banfield has impressed in run-with roles this year and Lyon wants him to develop in the mould of Hawks midfielder Liam Shiels, who can hurt opponents the other way.
"But that's not going to come overnight for a 14-game rookie player out of Claremont, I wouldn't have thought," Lyon said.
"But the journey starts this year. We can just go 'lock him down and don't touch it' but we'd like to be more than that.
"Today he learned some lessons."
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The Dockers left too much to too few on Sunday, with stars Lachie Neale (37 disposals), David Mundy (34, one goal) and wingman Ed Langdon (26, one) carrying a heavy load.
Most of Freo's first and second-year players – apart from Andrew Brayshaw (25) and Banfield (19) – had little impact but Lyon wasn't sure if a long season was taking a toll.
"We expected to play better than that, and we wanted to play better than that," he said.
"Are we hitting a wall? I’m not too sure."
Freo's scoring output has dipped sharply recently, averaging only 59 points in the past five rounds, and Lyon lamented some shocking skill errors on a perfect day for football.
The Dockers went goalless from the 12-minute mark of the opening term until time-on of the third quarter, but saved some blushes with a three-goal finish.
"We butchered some real opportunities going inside forward 50, we should've kicked goals," Lyon said.
"Even though we were behind, it just would've made us feel a bit better about ourselves I reckon."
Fremantle looks likely to seriously consider spearhead Matt Taberner, who booted three goals in his return from a broken foot for Peel, for next round's Western Derby.
Injury-plagued star Harley Bennell is also set to be in the mix after racking up 27 touches and booting two goals for the Thunder.
"I sat on the bench and I watched until the last second," Lyon said.
"He's fighting on and it's another step closer and his performance was better."
The Dockers will have to make at least one change after Cam Sutcliffe "blew a hamstring", placing the out-of-contract utility's career in doubt.
Fremantle has lost the past six clashes with West Coast, but could derail the Eagles' top-two hopes with an upset next Sunday.
"It's not something that I dwell on. I couldn't even tell you where they are on the ladder – I know they're going really well," Lyon said.
"We want to write our own story. At times we have this year, we're a young group, we're inexperienced and we need to improve.
"It was a frustrating day. We might not have got the four points, but I thought we should have been better than we were.
"But we never gave up."