Nat Fyfe in action during Walyalup's match against Geelong at Optus Stadium in round 10, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

A BRILLIANT third-quarter burst from Walyalup star Nat Fyfe was enough to force coach Justin Longmuir to delay using his substitute on Saturday, with the 31-year-old playing a crucial role in the Dockers' big win against Geelong.

Fyfe won nine of his 17 disposals and four clearances during an influential 20-minute period after half-time that saw the Dockers pile on four goals and build a 21-point lead late in the third term.

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After playing his past two games as the substitute as he builds back from a foot injury, Fyfe was due to be tapped out of the game earlier in the quarter and replaced by midfielder Matthew Johnson.

But Longmuir said the Dockers had prioritised getting more out of their former skipper rather than sticking strictly to a management plan given the important role he was playing in the midfield battles.


"We left him on for a little bit longer than probably some people wanted to," the coach said.

"Medical is one part of it, but performance and winning games of football is the most important part.

"We left him on for a little bit longer than probably what we anticipated but it won't hurt him in the long run.

"He's been really open and he understands where he's at, especially late in games, and he was really open to coming off when he did."

Longmuir praised Fyfe's contribution in a dominant midfield, believing he was most valuable up the ground given the aerial contests being provided in attack by tall trio Jye Amiss, Josh Treacy and Luke Jackson.

He praised a re-energised onball brigade for playing with greater freedom, with star Andrew Brayshaw continuing a terrific run of form with 33 disposals and seven clearances.

"They've been organised and got their hands dirty," the coach said.

"We were probably caught up – and this is everyone, not just stoppage – in whether it was the expectation or a bit of fear.

"I couldn't have been happier with the amount of pressure we were able to put on the Geelong mids and get looks off that.

"We were able to score from stoppage as well through good organisation and method, but also just great intent around the ball."


Longmuir said his team had played a "tough and relentless" brand against the Cats, but he was not surprised by the ability of his players – including Amiss, who kicked a clutch 50m goal during the final quarter – to stand up in big moments.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said the Cats were frustrated but still optimistic after the loss, which left the team at 5-5 and hanging onto its top-eight spot through superior percentage.

The absence of key players – including captain Patrick Dangerfield and ruckman Rhys Stanley – had left them disjointed at times and unable to play the way they had planned.

The coach remained confident improvement would come with a few shifts against Greater Western Sydney and the Cats would remain hard to beat.  

"I'm sitting here feeling pretty optimistic about what we can do," Scott said. 

"We completely understand, especially the last few weeks, we've been playing with a different team, which leads to some cohesion issues.

"It's a bit of an indication why we're frustrated but we're not tearing our hair out thinking why is this happening? Five-five in a really tight competition is not a time to throw the toys out of the cot."


Scott said the Cats had not given their forwards adequate service, with champion goalkicker Tom Hawkins working hard against Alex Pearce for his three goals and superstar Jeremy Cameron kicking 0.3 against Luke Ryan.

The coach was optimistic Dangerfield would return from a hamstring injury against the Giants next Saturday at GMHBA Stadium, with Gary Rohan (hamstring), Sam De Koning (face) and Cameron Guthrie (toe) also close to returns.