After losing to West Coast by 59 points on Sunday, Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir laid it bare to members and supporters.
Despite early-season success, the reality is that the club that has missed five consecutive finals series is still in a development phase.
Longmuir said Sunday’s result against the Eagles was a reality check, after almost a month of positive results.
On the back of three consecutive wins and climbing to sixth sport on the AFL ladder, even bookmakers struggled to separate them from the banged-up Eagles ahead of the Derby.
But when the Eagles took control of the game from midway through the second term, the Dockers showed there was still a gap between their side and the top group of teams in the competition.
Sunday’s game was the first top eight side from 2020 that the Dockers have played this season.
They managed just two goals after half-time, having led by 12 points early in the second term. But they couldn’t handle the pressure the Eagles put on them.
Longmuir said his players still had a lot to learn.
“It was a bit of a reality check for us to be honest,” he said.
“We do have a fair way to go.
“I never thought after winning three in a row that we were the end product.
“We had too many inconsistent players today against a side that just had even contributors all over the ground.
“We’re still in a development phase, we’re taking the lessons from today and individuals will learn from it and look to improve certain aspects.”
Longmuir didn’t mince his words. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
While the calibre of injured Eagles has been a big talking point this season, the Dockers do have some significant injury concerns of their own.
Their defence has been stripped bare, with Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling both missing significant time off the field. They are still a couple of weeks from returning.
Luke Ryan failed to play the Derby because of a calf injury and remains in doubt for next week’s home game against Brisbane.
Making matters worse, Ethan Hughes was subbed out with a shoulder injury early in Sunday’s game. Youngster Heath Chapman showed a lot of character after he also injured his shoulder in the first term and was clearly struggling as he battled on.
As the Eagles midfield got on top, they probably could have kicked more than the 20 goals they did.
Longmuir said he understood any frustration that supporters were feeling.
“I understand your disappointment,” was his message to fans.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to sit there and watch what they would have watched in the third quarter and second half.
“There’s no sugar-coating it. We need to get better as a club and a team.
“That starts Tuesday when we get back to the club.”
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