Freo back to manic best
Umpire Dean Margetts and Docker Matthew Pavlich recognise the One Sight Foundation with Noah Redinger. Pic: Michael Wilson

Matthew Pavlich says Fremantle have recaptured the manic defensive pressure that propelled them to last year's grand final.

The Dockers captain praised in-form forward Hayden Ballantyne for leading the team's return to the relentless harassment of opposition sides that characterised the 2013 finals wins over Geelong and Sydney.

And he said a string of injuries this year to key players, including Michael Walters, Michael Johnson, Luke McPharlin and Michael Barlow, had proven a "blessing in disguise" by fast-tracking fringe players and showcasing the club's depth.

The 32-year-old also said it would be "strange" coming up against a West Coast defence missing the retired Darren Glass in today's western derby, while conceding the Eagles would be relentless from the outset given their position on the ladder.

West Coast are still two wins outside the top eight despite winning their past two games.

Fremantle's ability to sustain their defensive ferocity was questioned after they stumbled to a 4-4 win-loss record earlier this season.

But critics were given a timely reminder of the Dockers' capabilities last Saturday night when the port club conceded just 3.4 against Brisbane.

Asked if the players believed they were again demonstrating Fremantle's trademark pressure, Pavlich said: "We do. I'm not entirely sure if it was statistics-based, the analysis (of it dropping off) that people were saying. It might have been their anecdotal vision.

"Our numbers have been relatively solid all year in terms of that defence, but that manic pressure is something that when we are doing it at our very best, we're very hard to play against.

"Hayden Ballantyne has been first-class at it in more recent times and I think it helps his offensive game as well. And Chris Mayne, although not at his peak for this year, I think that's still been a cornerstone to his game.

"We all need to engage in it and I believe we have been pretty good at it recently."

Ballantyne has booted 18 goals in the Dockers' five-game winning streak and Pavlich said the small forward was crucial to the team's top-four ambitions.

"We need a red-hot Hayden Ballantyne for the rest of the year," Pavlich said.

"There's been glimpses (of this) before. I think his game's becoming pretty consistent."

Pavlich was speaking to promote non-for-profit foundation OneSight, which provides eye care to remote indigenous communities and runs clinics in schools across Australia.

The AFL's umpires will wear blue uniforms during the derby round to promote the work done by the charity and official league partner OPSM.

Johnson and McPharlin will both miss the derby with knee injuries, but Pavlich said this year's spate of injuries hadn't crippled the team.

"It's probably allowed other players to grow and develop," he said.

"That's a blessing in disguise … it is a testament to our depth and it's a testament to what we stand for."

The West Australian

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