Michael Barlow says Fremantle were “let off the hook” by the Western Bulldogs and said the club’s high-profile midfield group owed the defence for their sixth win of the season.
The Bulldogs had 67 inside-50s against the Dockers at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, but only managed to kick 6.15 to waste all of their hard work.
The visitors conversely converted well from their own inside-50s, with Stephen Hill’s four goals in a best-afield display summing up the 38-point win.
“We probably got let off the hook to an extent through their conversion and really from our defenders,” Barlow said.
“Us as a midfield group – myself, Dave (Mundy), Nathan (Fyfe) and Hilly (Stephen Hill) – early days, we really probably need to buy the defenders a few coffees because they were outstanding early to keep us in the game.
“As the game got going, I thought we controlled the ball quite well.
“We didn’t win the stoppages or get our hands on it first at the clearances, but our ability to use the ball and move it and score efficiently was as good as it’s been all year.”
Barlow said he hoped the suggestion of introducing zones into the game would not eventuate in the wake of former Eagles coach John Worsfold – a member of the AFL’s laws committee – flagging the change as a future possibility.
“It’s the greatest game in the world,” Barlow said.
“I think the less we touch and tamper with it, the better.”
The key midfielder said his knee was feeling fine a month into his return from four weeks on the sidelines.
The 26-year-old had 28 disposals against the Bulldogs in his biggest possession tally since injuring his knee against Gold Coast back in round two.
“The first two weeks back I reckon I was scratching and clawing and trying to build up some match fitness, but I’m well and truly back into it now,” Barlow said.
“I had the week off and I felt I ran out the game (against the Dogs) reasonably well, so not too bad.”