It might have been in a losing cause, but Fremantle ruckman Jon Griffin couldn't have been happier in his first game back since being sidelined by a knee injury almost a year ago.
Griffin emerged unscathed from limited ground time when an undermanned Peel were overrun by Swan Districts in the second half at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday.
It was the imposing big man's first game since he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Collingwood in round seven at Patersons Stadium last year.
The season-ending knee surgery could not have come at a worse time, with Griffin firmly established as the Dockers' No.1 ruckman in the absence of then-injured teammate Aaron Sandilands.
A relieved Griffin was happy to be back on the park.
"It was good to get through obviously in my first game back," Griffin said.
"It's been a long wait. I was on limited game time today, but it was good just to get through unscathed and hopefully I can string a few strong games together for Peel.
"The knee has pulled up really good, which is a bit surprising.
"(I've had) limited game time so it's hard to get a gauge on where it's at fitness wise. I'll look through my game today and critique it pretty harshly.
"From there, with the building of game time, I can make a couple of steps forward in that direction and get some good form behind me. I've made some good increases in strength through my legs and it was a really good pre- season for me."
His successful comeback was some rare bright news for the Dockers, who arrived back in Perth on Saturday after their 58-point flogging from Hawthorn at the MCG on Friday night.
Forwards Michael Walters and Chris Mayne, who both injured ankles during the game, were on crutches, while Garrick Ibbotson dislocated his right shoulder in the loss to the Hawks and was substituted early.
Before his injury last year, Griffin averaged 25 hit-outs in the first six matches and booted a career-high three goals against Gold Coast in round six.
Griffin said he had enjoyed the chance to help Fremantle teammate Zac Clarke in the ruck on Saturday, Clarke dropping back to the WAFL after being an emergency for the Hawthorn game.
"It's obviously good playing with Zac at any level," he said.
"He played really well today and hopefully we can see him in the purple again soon."
Clarke's solid game, featuring 38 hit-outs and 15 possessions, was soured when he was reported for rough conduct in the final term.
The report is of concern for the Dockers given young ruckman Jack Hannath is likely to face scrutiny from the AFL match review panel for a clumsy head-high spoil on Matt Spangher on Friday night.
The knee has pulled up really good, which is a bit surprising." *Jon Griffin *