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Lyon defends Nyhuis' tackle on Port superstar

Ross Lyon speaks to the media after the Round 17 match against Port Adelaide Ross Lyon speaks to the media after the Round 17 match against Port Adelaide

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon insists defender Ryan Nyhuis didn't intentionally try to hurt Port Adelaide superstar Robbie Gray, but accepts his dangerous tackle will be looked at by the Match Review Officer.

Meanwhile, the Dockers coach confirmed luckless Michael Apeness will miss the rest of the season after damaging a hamstring tendon for Peel, potentially leaving Freo short of ruckmen if a sore Sean Darcy doesn't come up in time to face Essendon in six days.

Gray was out of Sunday's game early in the third term after he was caught by Nyhuis and tackled to the ground over the boundary line.

A melee ensued as Gray was attended to by trainers, before being taken off on a stretcher.

"I saw it. I would quote (MRO) Michael Christian, which everyone's quoting, no one intentionally goes out to hurt anyone," Lyon said post-match.

"Clearly, it was a split (second) decision.

"But they'll get it to it, they'll grade it and it will be what it will be.

"It's a hard, tough game and our players have been driven into the turf unintentionally by the opposition, sometimes it just happens.

"I wouldn't have thought he (Nyhuis) gave it a second thought. Good sportspeople focus on the next moment.

"We just sent a message, focus on the next moment.

"It's important when you've been involved in a physical side of the game when your opportunity comes to put your head over the ball, you do that, and I thought he did that."

Darcy limped from the field late in the game with a mystery injury after he fell over in a contest and didn't return to the fray.

"Often they cool down, (and) it can be nothing," Lyon said.

"I don't think it's anything significant."

Fremantle are already missing veteran Aaron Sandilands (calf) while Apeness' horror run with injury continued after he was dropped.

"It's a very fragile existence sometimes being a ruckman, it's a tough business," Lyon said.

"It's obviously nice he's (Apeness) got the (one-year) contract (this week), so he'll get support, he just needs to do the work again.

"When you look into their eyes sometimes you see the devastation.

"It's really difficult to be a coach and those young players (are injured), it's really tough."

Lyon lauded his defenders for holding top-four contender Port to only 50 points in a nine-point win at Optus Stadium.

He saved special praise for midfield stars Lachie Neale (34 possessions, nine clearances) and David Mundy (29 disposals, one goal), who helped turn the tide after Port dominated the early going.

Fremantle's seventh win will boost morale and was timely given the Dockers' challenging run home.

They will likely only start favourite one more match – at home against bottom-placed Carlton.

"It's not the be all and end all, but morale, vibrancy, wins help, we know that and it fuels belief," Lyon said.

"But I had breakfast with a couple of our first-year players during the week and they said 'we're not thinking it's a tough eight weeks', they said 'we couldn't be more excited'.

"When you've got first and second-year players, they're not seeing the wins and losses like you guys (media), they're just seeing 'I'm playing senior footy and I've got a chance to improve and train'.

"It's really refreshing, isn't it? I think outside a lot is made of that, but internally within the four walls, for what we're doing and our win-loss, I'm biased, but it's pretty good."

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