Dockers’ double act ruck and roll through Demons

Shayne Hope |

Jye Amiss’s return to form with four goals was emblematic of Fremantle’s destruction of Melbourne.
Jye Amiss’s return to form with four goals was emblematic of Fremantle’s destruction of Melbourne.

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir has taken a swipe at critics of his two-pronged ruck division after Sean Darcy and Luke Jackson shone in a 92-demolition of Max Gawn’s Melbourne in Alice Springs.

The Dockers’ pressure, contest work and ball movement were levels above their lacklustre opponents’ in the thumping 22.9 (141) to 7.7 (49) victory at Traeger Park on Sunday.

Darcy was at his physical best in limiting ruck star Gawn’s influence as Fremantle improved to 7-4-1 and added 10.8 percentage points in the process, surging above the Demons into sixth on the ladder.

Jackson also stood out with three goals, combining well with fellow talls Jye Amiss (four goals) and Josh Treacy (three).

Luke Jackson.
Fremantle’s Luke Jackson did well in the ruck and kicked three goals in the Dockers’ huge win. (Michael Errey/AAP PHOTOS)

“I don’t really care what everyone else thinks,” Longmuir said when quizzed on his ruck duo.

“People want to be sensationalist and be the first to say that it’s not working and this and that.

“The fact is that last year when they both played and had continuity, it worked. We haven’t had that continuity this year.

“So as much as everyone thinks you can just click your fingers and pieces just fall into place, it takes a little bit of time for Luke to find his way down forward and be comfortable playing that role again.

“It doesn’t happen in one week, and I think we saw today what our three key forwards can do if they have that continuity.

“They were all dangerous and Sean’s in his second game back (from injury), he’s only going to get better as well. He covered the ground really well and looks really strong in the ruck.”

Hayden Young.
Hayden Young was among the midfield stars for Fremantle, with 26 disposals. (Michael Errey/AAP PHOTOS)

Michael Walters (three) and Michael Frederick (two) also kicked multiple goals as Fremantle piled on their highest score of Longmuir’s five seasons at the helm.

Hayden Young (26 disposals, four clearances), Caleb Serong (26, eight) and Andrew Brayshaw (25, eight) had field days in a dominant midfield unit.

Alex Pearce (12 intercepts) and Jordan Clark (35 touches, one goal) starred in defence, while Sam Switkowski was everywhere in the front half, tallying a career-high 25 disposals, five clearances, four assists and a goal.

Tellingly, Fremantle dominated clearances (47-23), contested possession (139-98) and inside-50s (68-36).

“We executed the plan really well and it’s probably the first time this year all our phases have come together and really clicked for a long period of time,” Longmuir said.

“We’ve probably seen quarters of it, but a sustained period of everyone clicking … was impressive.

“Hopefully it gives the players a lot of confidence that our best footy’s good enough.

“To put a four-quarter performance in like that shows what we can do when we can sustain it.”

On a dirty day for Melbourne, they lost experienced wingman Lachie Hunter to a calf injury before halftime, and conceded their highest score under eight-year coach Simon Goodwin.

Christian Petracca (26 disposals, one goal) and Jack Viney (23, one) battled on in a Demons side that was well beaten, while Tom McDonald kicked two goals.

Fremantle’s pressure was off in the opening stages, allowing Melbourne to kick the first two goals, but the Dockers quickly ramped up to a level that set the tone for the match.

The Dockers slammed on the next five goals and increased their lead in every quarter, briefly blowing the margin out to 100 points during the final term.

Goodwin said his side was “completely obliterated in every phase” of the game as Melbourne (7-5) were sent tumbling out of the top eight ahead of a huge King’s Birthday clash with Collingwood.

“That’s as bad a performance as you can get and it’s one we certainly won’t tolerate,” the Demons’ 2021 premiership coach said.

“There’s inconsistencies in our game and that trend has been there for a little while now.

“We understand there’s elements within our method that aren’t right, but the inconsistencies are concerning.

“We’ll look into the ‘why’ because that performance is clearly completely unacceptable.”