Dockers counting on mountain man's form - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dockers counting on mountain man's form

By Adam Cooper 17/04/2009 06:22:01 PM Comments (0)

Fremantle admit they must seize on their one ace in the centre if they are to match St Kilda's midfield pressure and produce an AFL boilover on Saturday at Etihad Stadium.

The Dockers' three losses to start the season cannot be apportioned to man mountain Aaron Sandilands, whose dominance in the ruck should rightly give Fremantle's onballers first use of the ball more often.

But because Sandilands is so influential and so big (213cm), opposition teams approach him with different plans, either by feeding off his hit outs or sending another player up in ruck duels to create a two-versus-one contest.

Fremantle assistant coach Barry Mitchell said the Dockers had to get better at capitalising on their big teammate's knack of averaging about 30 hit outs a game.

"It's really hard, watching the game last week Adelaide sent a third jumper up at just about every stoppage," he said on Friday.

"That's what teams do against Aaron and we've got to try to negate that and try to capitalise at ground level.

"But sometimes when there's 20 or 22 people around the ball it's not as easy as it sounds."

Paul Hasleby's encouraging start to the season after missing 2008 through a knee injury has given Fremantle heart that they can soon develop a group of onballers equipped to work well with Sandilands.

But Mitchell said that would take time, as many of last year's stoppage players, Shaun McManus, Peter Bell and Josh and Matthew Carr, were no longer at the club.

The newer Dockers can forget about getting a charmed ride at stoppages against the Saints, whose pressure skills have been excellent over the first three weeks and have shot them to the top of the ladder, unbeaten.

"They've been the benchmark side this year in that regard, so we definitely have to (match that pressure) to give ourselves the best chance," Mitchell said.

"They've been averaging about 80 tackles, but we're confident we can do that."

Fremantle's inability to rise in close games was again evident in last Sunday's loss to the Crows, but Mitchell said the Dockers drew encouragement from matching opponents, provided they could lift that little extra.

"If you look at the game last week we were a goal in front and we probably should have kicked (clear)," he said.

"You're right in the game so you always think you're a chance, and top sides, whoever they are, have been beaten since the game first began, so we're confident we can do that tomorrow."

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