How Justin Longmuir took Fremantle Dockers’ defence to next level after Ross Lyon

FREMANTLE is moulded in Justin Longmuir’s picture however in-built Ross Lyon’s shadow.

The Dockers did not essentially reinvent the wheel once they changed Lyon with Longmuir on the conclusion of the 2019 marketing campaign, however they added some color and extra sharpness to an already stout defensive lineup.

The early days of Longmuir, with Fremantle on the street for a lot of a COVID-interrupted 2020 season, may need been a troublesome watch, however the foundations of the aspect’s now famend defence-first system have been being honed.

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The Dockers scored fewer than 40 whole factors in losses to Carlton, West Coast, Richmond and Geelong. They even scored totals of fifty or fewer in wins over Sydney, Hawthorn and Melbourne.

Justin Longmuir addresses the Fremantle gamers in opposition to Geelong in R7, 2022. Image: AFL Photographs

Regardless of ending three video games outdoors the top-eight in a truncated season, Fremantle nonetheless conceded fewer factors throughout the 12 months than the second-placed Brisbane. However in addition they tallied much less factors scored than a Sydney aspect that completed third-from-bottom.

It was, in essence, similar to Lyon’s first 12 months out west. In that 2012 season, as the previous St Kilda coach preached defence on the forefront of his system, Fremantle received some video games kicking solely eight objectives, misplaced others kicking simply 5, and held its opponents to beneath 50 whole factors in six separate matches.

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In hindsight, the dour approaches adopted by each would pay dividends simply a few seasons on. Lyon helped the Dockers make the Grand Ultimate in 2013, whereas in 2022 their defensive system is the toast of the city beneath Longmuir and has drawn comparisons to the unbeaten reigning premier Melbourne.

That’s the place Fremantle’s distinctive profile beneath Longmuir comes into play. Having inherited a aspect that knew the way to defend from the Lyon period, the first-time coach – credited for a lot of Collingwood’s rise to the Grand Ultimate in 2018 the place he was an assistant beneath Nathan Buckley – has added extra layers, extra color and sharpness, to the combo.

Just like the Demons are presently doing – and the Tigers did throughout their run of three flags in 4 seasons – the Dockers are making their crust perfecting the artwork of defending each excessive and deep throughout their beautiful begin to the 12 months. The very fact they’re doing each impeccably effectively is testomony to the 41-year-old in cost.

Fremantle covers deep by its robust workforce defence, evidenced by the actual fact it now concedes the fewest opposition scores per inside-50 within the competitors. Champion Information notes that its fee of 37.3 p.c of scores per opposition entry went previous Melbourne because the AFL’s greatest final weekend.

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The membership permits its opponents to generate an inside-50 from simply 18.5 p.c of rebound-50 chains (ranked first, and improved from 24.4 p.c final 12 months). It additionally solely permits the opposition to retain the ball from simply 41.2 p.c of kicks inside-50 (ranked third, and improved from 51.3 p.c final season).

However what’s simply as exceptional is the style during which the Dockers defend excessive, and the way the aspect’s 5 small forwards in assault – Sam Switkowski, Lachie Schultz, Michael Walters, Travis Colyer and Michael Frederick – set the tone for a way the Dockers defend throughout all the area.

Travis Colyer and Lachie Schultz have a good time a Fremantle objective in opposition to Geelong in R7, 2022. Image: AFL Photographs

Fremantle has recorded a median of 26.1 forward-half intercepts per recreation this season, probably the most of any workforce. In addition they rating a median of 34.3 factors per recreation from that supply, ranked third within the League.

In the meantime, Champion Information notes that its stress issue – led by star stress forwards Switkowski and Schultz, specifically – now ranks sixth within the competitors. Final season, it ranked second-last.

Whereas it is the important thing ahead duo of Matt Taberner and Rory Lobb – along with Josh Treacy final week and debutant Jye Amiss this week – which may usually steal the headlines, it is their 5 speedsters defining and deciding most video games.

The profile is exclusive, however it’s additionally extremely efficient and sustainable. Mixed with some savvy recruiting, some in-form expertise and the right mix cohesiveness, it has Fremantle on observe for September for the primary time since Lyon guided the Dockers to the minor premiership in 2015.

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