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Taberner soars on return

Matt Taberner kicked four goals in his first game back at AFL level in 2017. Fremantle forward Matt Taberner kicks four goals in his first game back at AFL level in 2017

Matt Taberner said it felt “great to be back” at AFL level and Fremantle fans would have to agree.

The 23-year-old returned with one of the best performances of his career, helping Fremantle overcome Essendon by 37 points on Sunday at Domain Stadium.

Fremantle were on the back foot early in hot conditions and trailed by 27 points eight minutes into the second quarter.

“They jumped us from the start to be fair,” Taberner said.

“But to the boys’ credit we came out after half time and won the ball around the contest and we went from there.

“Essendon were moving the ball around and there were a few things from the forward line we could learn.

“Once we brought that pressure around the ball we were able to turn it around.”

Taberner was an aerial threat on all corners of the ground, taking an impressive seven contested marks while contributing in the ruck with seven hit outs.

The 197cm key forward said it was hard to miss the opening six rounds of the season but added that his time at Peel was valuable.

“It was a tough few weeks personally but it’s just great to see the boys get a result today,” Taberner said.

“I learnt a few things at Peel and was told to work and implement that so I could, hopefully, take that to the AFL side.”

Taberner’s four goal haul is his second highest from 42 AFL games and goes with a couple of strong performances for Peel in 2017 - kicking five against East Fremantle and four against West Perth.

Taberner’s hit out total in support of Aaron Sandilands bettered his efforts from more than a month in a similar role at Peel.

“I’ve been working on getting up the ground a little bit more and using my run, and a little bit of ruck work as well,” Taberner said.

“I’m learning more every week.

“I’ve just needed to get in there and compete and take on the contest basically.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs