FREMANTLE coach Justin Longmuir has lashed the way his players "hung teammates out to dry" in a disappointing defeat to Carlton on Sunday, suggesting they let down young pair Andrew Brayshaw and Brennan Cox.
Brayshaw was physically targeted by the Blues in a 45-point defeat at Marvel Stadium, with tagger Ed Curnow and a host of others applying close attention to the 21-year-old throughout the afternoon.
It came as the Dockers were smashed in clearances (-14) and contested ball (-18) by their far superior opponents to record a second defeat in three weeks, as well as being comprehensively beaten on the outside.
Brayshaw found himself involved in several physical confrontations with Carlton players just prior to half-time as the Blues opened up a six-goal lead at the main break, with Patrick Cripps and Curnow both involved in the spats.
Longmuir said he didn't see anything untoward in Carlton's actions and credited the manner in which Brayshaw responded personally in a 19-disposal game, but said his teammates must provide better support in the future.
"I said to the players at half-time that it was not acceptable to allow that to happen," Longmuir said.
"We can't be a team that hangs our teammates out to dry. I thought, by the end of the second quarter, it wasn't just Andy. They were being more physical with us all over the ground.
"I thought we stepped up to the mark. I thought there were a lot more physical efforts by our players in the second half, but we can't allow teams to do that to us. We need to take that lesson out of the game, because it's not good enough."
Longmuir delivered a similar message in relation to Cox, with the 22-year-old manning Harry McKay as the Carlton forward spearheaded his side to victory with a personal-best seven goals and five behinds.
Cox was forced to take McKay for the entire match due to injuries to Alex Pearce (knee), Joel Hamling (ankle) and Griffin Logue (hamstring), with the Dockers coach saying his midfielders did not do enough to help him.
"They got out the front of stoppage and centre bounce," Longmuir said.
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"I don't know whether many players could have defended Harry McKay the way the ball was coming in today.
"Not having Joel Hamling and Alex Pearce limits your options … there was literally no one else we could put on him to give 'Coxy' a chop-out. We ended up going to a plus-one, which we thought helped a little bit.
"But the rest of the team hung 'Coxy' out to dry, really, with the way the ball was getting delivered in there."
Carlton's 45-point victory was on the back of McKay's brilliance, with the dominant forward kicking a career-best seven goals and recording a total of 13 scoring attempts to go with 17 disposals and 10 marks.
It followed a four-goal outing against Collingwood last Thursday night, with Blues coach David Teague crediting the manner in which McKay was able to consistently find himself in scoring positions.
McKay snapped multiple goals around his body, despite being in regulation set-shot territory, though Teague said knew his star 23-year-old forward felt comfortable in his approach.
"Harry kicked the ball beautifully last week and this week got the shots," Teague said.
"I don't know what he finished with, but I felt like he had a lot of shots on goal. He is a tough man … he's 204cm and when he puts his arms up, it takes an effort for a defender to actually get to the ball.
"Whether it's free kicks, he marks the ball himself – and he's got speed – we've got to keep making sure we give him delivery that allows him to play to his attributes. I thought today, some of the passing and ball movement to him allowed him the best chance to capitalise.
"What he's got to have is purpose. I thought today, even when he was snapping them, he had a purpose and it was clear. I think in round one, he rushed a couple. But as long as he's got his purpose … and if they're going through, I'm pretty happy.
"Harry kicked drop punts last week and kicked them beautifully. But he knows from each position, what sort of kick he's going to do. As long as he's got that purpose and conviction and he commits to it, I'm comfortable."