AFL premiership player Will Schofield has labelled Fremantle’s first quarter woes “appalling” as the club again put themselves on the back foot and it cost them dearly on Saturday.
The ‘Flagmantle’ dream is officially over for 2023 off the back of the loss to Sydney at Optus Stadium – Fremantle’s sixth defeat in the past seven games to sit inside the bottom four.
Despite a goal inside the opening two minutes against the Swans, the Dockers then coughed up five goals in a 12-minute blitz – and ended up losing the match by 29 points.
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“They have a serious, serious issue with their first quarters,” Schofield lamented on Fox Footy.
“They lose that (first quarter) by four goals and that’s what they are losing by right now.
“They’ve won only two first quarters this year.
“It’s been appalling to be honest.”
Fremantle Press Conference | 09:06
Schofield said he believed Fremantle had “underachieved” in 2023 after their semi-final run last season.
“Quite honestly, off the back of how they’ve started first quarters, it’s been poor this year,” he said.
AFL great Dermott Brereton said given the way Fremantle are able to fight out matches shows it’s not an issue with ability.
“That’s not talent, that’s application,” he said.
Sixteen times this season Fremantle have trailed at the first change in an alarming trend the club hasn’t been able to shrug.
“I thought we started with the right intent probably for the first five minutes,” coach Justin Longmuir said in his post-match press conference.
“There was a 12- minute period where we cost ourselves five goals in the first quarter.
“(Without that run) the game is totally different – they did enough in that period.
“You don’t know how much that changes the game, but we need to get on top of that.”
Sydney Swans Press Conference | 06:57
Just a few weeks ago, Longmuir confirmed the club was “tinkering” with their pre-game routine in a bid to overcome their slow starts.
But unfortunately for Fremantle, the issue has remained.
Longmuir said he was disappointed with his side’s inability to stop the Swans’ run on in that first term.
“You concede goals – it just can’t be five in 12 minutes where you touch the ball 15 times and they touch it 45 times,” he said.
“You lose total control of the game for a period and it hurts you on the scoreboard.
“It felt like there was a lot of basic execution that let us down.
“You never halt momentum with one person. But you need a number of guys communicating and reassuring and instructing.
“We probably haven’t reached the tipping on that yet to stop some momentum runs.”
The Dockers were without five of their seven most experienced players when they faced the Swans, and will now travel to Geelong to take on the Cats in Round 20.
“We’re invested in this season,” Longmuir said.
“We’ve got to maximise every game we play in.”
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