Lyon praises Freo s grit

Ross Lyon labelled Fremantle's western derby triumph as gallant after his injury-hit team arrested its form slump with a 19-point victory at Patersons Stadium yesterday.

Last year's grand finalists survived a sustained challenge from West Coast during the second term to post their fourth successive derby win after being hamstrung by injuries to key defenders Luke McPharlin (thigh) and Zac Dawson (ankle) in the first half.

PICTURE GALLERY

Fiery small forward Hayden Ballantyne repaid the Dockers after serving a one-week suspension, kicking two critical goals to inspire the 11.7 (73) to 7.12 (54) victory.

Unheralded midfielder Lachie Neale and utility player Zac Clarke also lifted to deliver their best performances of the year.

Neale accumulated a game-high 32 disposals to be a unanimous choice for the Ross Glendinning Medal, while Clarke kicked three goals as the game's dominant tall forward.

Fremantle sealed the victory, which lifted their win-loss record to 4-3, with six unanswered goals from the 11-minute mark of the third quarter.

However, Lyon said his players were still far from their best.

"We're not a machine," he said.

"We've got a lot of emotions and feelings and challenges and physical challenges.

"Sometimes you're not at your very best. I think it's unrealistic over a 22-week season to think we're going to be perfect or anyone is.

"But with the weight of numbers, you get it right.

"Clearly we've got it wrong a few times."

The victory could still come at a significant cost heading into a tough fortnight where Fremantle face top-four rivals Port Adelaide (away) and Geelong (home).

Lyon said the seriousness of Dawson's ankle injury was "uncertain" after the full-back was substituted out of the match at half-time.

McPharlin also limped off just five minutes into the game with a suspected thigh injury.

Lyon said McPharlin's injury was minor and described his key defender as "admirable" for returning to play out the game.

"(It was) the worst possible result to lose a tall defender," he said. "To the players' credit, a couple were thrown a challenge. Zac Clarke was thrown a challenge and then (Chris) Mayne.

"It was a gallant victory. We worked hard to bag the four points."

West Coast were left to rue inaccurate goal kicking for the third successive week as they tumbled out of the top eight on the back of a fourth straight loss.

The Eagles managed just 1.8 during the second quarter despite dominating play.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson said he had been left frustrated by the team's continued inaccuracy.

"I reckon I might have punched the desk a couple of times today," he said. "Players would be frustrated and coaches.

"Supporters and members would be frustrated as well.

"Three weeks in a row we've given up starts to games … the resolve of our group, of a young group and coaching staff, how united we are together throughout the week and how we prepare for this week will be another test."

The West Australian

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