Duffield makes case for the defence
Paul Duffield. Pic: Sharon Smith/WA News

Accomplished defender Paul Duffield has backed Fremantle's injury-hit back line to get the job done again this weekend, whether or not All-Australian Luke McPharlin returns to the side.

The Dockers went into the western derby on Saturday without three of their four best tall defenders - McPharlin (knee), Michael Johnson (knee) and Alex Silvagni (ribs) - but still found a way to limit the influence of a potent Eagles attack.

Running defender Cameron Sutcliffe was asked to match up on Jack Darling and did a brill- iant shut-down job despite conceding height and weight, while fringe forward Matt Taberner was employed as a key-position back for the first time in his career, producing mixed results.

Dockers coach Ross Lyon declared McPharlin a chance to return against Melbourne in Darwin on Saturday night, but Duffield said the group was prepared to answer the fresh challenge either way.

"We need to keep finding a way," Duffield said. "We're not a side that has been dictated to by personnel too much in the past.

"Everyone understands and has an expectation of their role when they come in.

"Regardless of who it is, we expect that role to be done well and that they give great effort.

"Matt Taberner was a great example of that."

Duffield praised the performance of 21-year-old Taberner, who found a bit of the ball, but lacked composure at stages in the unfamiliar role.

"I thought he was great. He just competed all day and he gives height and size and run," he said.

Fremantle's seven-point vic- tory over West Coast left them fourth on percentage, making a win over Melbourne critical to their hopes of a top-four - possibly even top-two - finish.

Experienced defensive forward Matt de Boer is a chance to return after negotiating his comeback from a knee injury in the WAFL on Saturday.

Anthony Morabito is also likely to be in the mix after another big performance for Peel.

In-form Melbourne defender Neville Jetta was yesterday offered a one-match ban by the match review panel for rough conduct against Fletcher Roberts in the third quarter of their six-point loss to the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.

A loss to the Bulldogs in 2007 is Fremantle's only previous AFL fixture at Darwin's TIO Stadium, but Duffield said he was looking forward to the warm conditions.

He said the Demons had been producing good football in their first year under Sydney premiership coach Paul Roos and could not be underestimated.

"Regardless of who it is, we expect that role to be done well and that they give great effort."" *Paul Duffield *

The West Australian

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