Stepping up for Fyfe
It’s obvious that Fremantle will miss Nat Fyfe on Sunday with the dual Brownlow Medallist out due to a hamstring injury.
That said, Fremantle have shown in the past they can compete without their skipper. In 2019, Fyfe missed two games, a win against Sydney and a narrow RAC Derby loss. In 2018, Freo managed impressive wins against both Adelaide and Port Adelaide without Fyfe.
One player in particular has helped fill the void is David Mundy. In games without Fyfe in 2019, Mundy averaged 30.5 disposals, 20.5 contested possessions and 10.5 clearances compared to his season average of 22.8 disposals, 11.8 contested possessions and 5.5 clearances.
The next generation
It won't just be David Mundy shouldering the load.
At the selection table, senior coach Justin Longmuir opted not to bring in a midfielder to replace the captain. Instead, young mids like Darcy Tucker, Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Caleb Serong will have more minutes in the engine room, with the four usually rotating in and out of the midfield from the forward and backline this season.
When Fyfe went off against Gold Coast, 'Fantasy Freako' - an account run by Champion Data - noted that debutant Caleb Serong went to another level, picking up a game-high 10 disposals in that time.
Caleb Serong was the 7th ranked player on the ground after Fyfe went off injured last round. Serong won a game-high 10 disposals in that time. #SuperCoach— Fantasy Freako (@FantasyFreako) July 1, 2020
What’s in a record?
There’s nothing to hide Fremantle and Adelaide’s 0-4 record.
Looking closer at the ladder, there’s a clear pattern with Fremantle’s past opponents.
The top three spots are held by Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Brisbane, the teams Freo have played since arriving at the hub.
Essendon, Fremantle’s round one opponent, are one percentage point outside the top four, and would would have started the round in fourth if they had played - and beaten - Melbourne in round three.
Fremantle have been competitive against all of their four opponents but lost. The key in the next few weeks is maintaining that competitiveness but, obviously, getting the result.
Limiting the damage
Fremantle’s main problem in 2020 has been their inability to limit the damage when the other team is on top.
In round one, it was a four goal to zero run to start the game for the Bombers.
In round two, Brisbane turned a five-point lead into a 17-point advantage within minutes to start the third quarter with back-to-back clearances and goals.
In round three, Port Adelaide piled on five unanswered goals in the second term after Freo worked hard to earn a one-goal advantage in the first quarter.
In round four, the Suns kicked four goals in just over five minutes without Freo recording a possession.
Alternatively, while Freo have had the ascendency for significant periods of all of their games, they have had to work much harder for their goals. Fremantle average 5.2 disposals inside 50 per goal, which is the second highest in the AFL.
It was expected that Fremantle would be affected by the departures of Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon in the 2019 trade period. In 2019, Hill led Freo with 484 metres gained and Langdon was third with 439 metres gained.
Four games into 2020, new recruit James Aish leads Freo with an average of 343.6 metres gained (equivalent to 412.3 metres gained in 2019 due to 20% less game time in 2020).
Fremantle will be boosted with their ball movement out of half back with Nathan Wilson’s recent return, who ranked second for metres gained in 2019 with an average of 474.5.
Don’t look at the rankings
It won’t surprise you that the AFL’s two teams on 0-4 don’t fare well on the stat sheet.
The Crows rank last for disposals, marks, contested possessions, inside 50s and goals. Freo rank 16th, ninth, 15th, 16th and 14th respectively in those categories.
The two teams do rank highly in rebound 50s with Adelaide first and Freo second, but that’s likely related to Adelaide conceding the most inside 50s this season and Freo the fifth-most.