Fremantle is conscious of avoiding another poor start as it prepares for Saturday night’s sudden-death AFL semi-final against Collingwood at the MCG.
- Fremantle must do a better job under pressure, coach Justin Longmuir says
- Longmuir is yet to say if Matt Taberner will return from injury
- The game is a return of sorts for Longmuir, an ex-Pies assistant
The Dockers have struggled at the outset of matches in recent weeks, challenged by West Coast and Greater Western Sydney, before letting the Western Bulldogs kick the first six goals in their elimination final at Perth Stadium.
“We reviewed that pretty heavily. We don’t want to be in that situation. We need to get our contest work a lot better, and we need to execute the basics under pressure a lot better than we did early in the game,” Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said.
“We definitely didn’t handle the pressure that they bought and that led to not getting the basics and execution right.
“I think it was reflected in our goal kicking early. Our first six shots were for three points only.”
The Magpies have averaged more than three goals in the first quarter since round 15, and have lost just two games in that time, including last weekend’s qualifying final against Geelong.
A vocal Collingwood crowd will welcome the Dockers for just their second game at the MCG this season, and Longmuir is aware of the role they could play.
“It’s hard to prepare [for that]. I think it’s worth talking about some of those things and understanding that if they get control of the game and the crowd gets on their side, how we prepare for that and how we counter that,” he said.
Matt Taberner desperate to play
Key forward Matt Taberner made his return to football from a calf injury on the weekend with Peel Thunder, collecting 13 disposals and kicking two goals.
But Longmuir refused to say whether Taberner had done enough to return to the AFL side.
“He’s pleading his case. He wants to play, but he understood the reasons last week,” he said.
“He’s been at the club for a long period of time and he’s been searching and preparing for these types of situations, so he desperately wants to be out there and contribute.
“As a match committee we’ll always put the team first, so there’s a fair bit to weigh up.”
Rookie forward Jye Amiss is expected to retain his spot after impressing in Saturday night’s win, when he kicked two goals.
The Dockers also expect winger Nathan O’Driscoll to be fit, despite fellow first-year player rolling his ankle and suffering a cork.
Collingwood holds special place
Longmuir is familiar with the Magpies, having been an assistant coach at the club during a successful spell that culminated in a grand final appearance in 2018.
“I still have some friendships and links. No-one is talking to me this week,” he said.
“I enjoyed a couple of years there and had a bit of success and won a lot of games.
“It was a massive part of my development.”
Fremantle will fly to Melbourne on Thursday afternoon in preparation for the clash.