Two of the competition’s most in-form ruckmen did battle at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon when Sean Darcy and Tim English met for the seventh time over their AFL careers.

A late flurry of goals saw the Bulldogs overrun Fremantle, but an intriguing ruck duel ensued throughout as both lead rucks had a major impact on the match.

The pair shared statistical similarities with Darcy recording 50 hitouts to English’s 30 while they each kicked a goal and featured with their clearance work (4-3 English’s way).

Darcy also tallied 18 disposals, six marks and six score involvements, while English had 10 disposals, 10 tackles and four inside 50s.

Despite Darcy’s hitout dominance, the Fremantle engine room were unable to capitalise, going down in the centre clearance count 10-13.

Heading into the clash, Darcy knew he would be required to run all day to match and exceed English’s work rate around the ground.

“Going up against Tim, he is a workhorse, and he drags you from one side of the ground to the other, so you’ve got to put your runners on,” Darcy told 6PR.

“In the centre bounce, in the first probably two quarters he got me but in the second half I thought I was much better around the ground and I was hitting it.

“We just need a bit more connection with our mids, but he is always a tough opponent.”


Darcy lauded the forward craft of second-year player Jye Amiss and the energy of experienced campaigner Michael Walters who both hit the scoreboard against the Dogs with four goals apiece.

Walters now also holds a clean sheet when it comes to his set shot goal kicking in 2023, booting 15 straight goals with no behinds when he has lined up for a set shot.

“Those boys have been really good up front,” Darcy said.

“Jye in his second year is super impressive he’s a really smart footballer, knows where to go and is a true forward with his bodywork.

“Sonny’s energy is just infectious. He brings his passion every week, so when those two are up and going it’s good.”


Darcy lamented a lack of toughness in the early stages of the game that set Freo on the back foot, unable to stand up to the Bulldogs’ pressure in the first 15 minutes of the match.

The ruckman acknowledged that the task to play and make an impact on finals this season had become more difficult, but stressed consistency in performance was a key area of improvement.

“I felt like in that first quarter we were shying away from the pressure and trying to handball through their pressure,” Darcy said.

“They are the number one pressure team in the comp. If you drive your legs and try and bypass that first wave of pressure you should have guys free on the outside, but we weren’t doing that.

“It’s going to be tough, we are trying to be consistent and push each other at training every day.

“I think our best footy is good enough to compete against anyone in the league, we have just got to bring it more often than not.”

Justin Longmuir post-match Q&A
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