Fremantle’s struggles in recent weeks have become evident early in games, and that trend continued with another lacklustre opening against Sydney this evening.
A fortnight ago, the Dockers mustered just 1.7 up until half-time en route to a derby hiding at the hands of West Coast.
Last week, it was a goalless opening term to allow Hawthorn to grab the ascendancy early in Launceston.
And tonight, it was more of the same as Freo compiled just 1.1 to quarter time.
The Dockers put together an anaemic five inside-50 entries for the entire first term, compared to Sydney’s 16, as they battled to clear their own defensive half.
The likes of Joel Hamling, Luke Ryan, Ethan Hughes and Taylin Duman were among Fremantle’s leading disposal-getters as they fought against the tide.
The only saving grace for the under-siege home side was Sydney’s inability to make the most of their domination and finish, with the Swans booting 1.4.
The sluggish starts have typified the Dockers’ battle to compile a competitive score in recent weeks. Up until Round 15, they had just one first term that hadn’t resulted in multiple goals and a strong foothold in the game. Now, they’ve put together three in a row.
With skipper Nat Fyfe out, Fremantle needed their leaders to put their imprint on the game early. But pivotal ball-winners Bradley Hill, Michael Walters and Ed Langdon combined for just nine disposals between them as Ross Lyon’s side struggled to get midfield traction.
Though things looked more promising in the second term by way of entries, on the back of some fine clearance work from David Mundy and Reece Conca, the Dockers’ woes turned to wasted chances.
Sandilands coming oh-so-close to getting a boot to ball against Aliir Aliir at the hot spot. A missed Brandon Matera set shot. Hill failing to spot Sandilands as he streamed toward an open goal.
By the time it was done, Fremantle had 2.5 to show for the term ahead of facing a 10-point deficit at the main break.
There are indeed signs the Dockers can snap their losing streak against a similarly-battling Swans in the second half. But sluggish beginnings aren’t helping their cause.