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United by Purple

Ryan responds to Lyon challenge

The Freo Dockers and Gold Coast Suns clash in round 20. The Freo Dockers and Gold Coast Suns clash in round 20.

Ross Lyon wanted a response from Luke Ryan after his club-imposed suspension and the Fremantle defender hasn't let the coach down.

Ryan was outstanding across half-back in Saturday night's 23-point win over Gold Coast, hauling down nine intercept marks – one shy of the all-time record – and finishing with a career-best 28 touches.

Since he and Brennan Cox were omitted for one game after drinking following the Carlton Draught Derby loss ahead of a six-day break, Ryan has been in stellar form.

He was considered unlucky to miss out on a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination having collected 25 touches and 14 grabs last round against GWS.

The 21-year-old is proving a shrewd pick-up after going at pick 66 in last year's draft and is showing his character.

"Everyone's going to get challenged and if you don't respond you're not worth being here," Lyon said.

"It's pretty simple for me.

"Players get challenged about their football or anything that we expect a response from, those that don’t respond we basically move on.

"It was important that both boys responded."

The Fremantle Dockers snapped a four-game home losing streak on Saturday night and won just their second match in 10 attempts.

"It's always good to have a win and sing the song, it's been a while since we've been able to do that, but we've been in a lot of tight, competitive games, so we feel like we're improving," Lyon said.

"We had some patches where we flirted with what we're doing, but over the night I thought our ball movement and stoppage work was quite strong, so I thought it was pleasing."

Lyon was particularly pleased with Cam McCarthy's effort snaring four goals – his best haul as a Freo Docker.

"He's just playing a bit higher and running around a bit more, we've just freed him up a bit, really," Lyon said.

"With Brennan (Cox) in the team and (David) Mundy and (Nat) Fyfe playing forward it allows that to happen, makes it more flexible.

"He's an incredibly good athlete (with) speed and endurance, and very mobile, so playing deeper probably doesn't suit him.

"He can do it and I think that will come, but after a year off that mobility helps him best I think. 

"We saw that tonight."


Lyon couldn't explain his side losing contested ball by a whopping 37 – joking Champion Data "might have had a bad night" - but knew why the Dockers were still able to win.

"I thought we limited the damage, we tackled pretty strongly and when we got the ball we spread it really well and used it really well.

"That would explain it."

Lyon backed-in Hayden Ballantyne, who had eight touches, five tackles and kicked 1.2, highlighting his chase and tackling pressure and declaring he could have kicked three goals - "that would give you 66 for the year". 

The Freo Dockers have lost fellow small forward Brady Grey (hamstring) for the season, but will look at bringing back young ruckman Sean Darcy against Sydney at the SCG next round.

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