Dockers look to team defence to hold Buddy
Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 9:30 AM

TEAM defence and midfield pressure will be the key to stopping the Lance Franklin juggernaut, says Fremantle coach Ross Lyon.

Franklin looms as Fremantle's possible nemesis in Saturday night's blockbuster at Domain Stadium.

The Swans' superstar is coming off a virtuoso performance against Greater Western Sydney.

Franklin gathered 18 touches, took seven marks, kicked 5.5 and received nine votes in the AFL Coaches' Association player of the year award.

Franklin has kicked 11 goals for the season and he tormented Fremantle in both encounters last year.

He kicked 4.2 from 17 touches in the Swans' round five win at the SCG, and then he kicked 3.3 in the qualifying final, breaking the game open with two goals off a wing at the start of the last quarter after he was well held by Alex Silvagni to three-quarter time.

Silvagni (hamstring) and Zac Dawson (groin) have been unavailable this season due to injury, but Fremantle's defence has been all-but impenetrable so far, with All Australians Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson taking the key forwards.

Lyon said it would be a combined defensive effort on Franklin this Saturday night given his versatility of being able to push up the ground.

"We can't put a chain on him and just keep him in certain parts of the ground," Lyon said.

"He moves around a bit. He's been a proven top-level performer for a long period of time. That's why he was in demand and he gets paid what he gets paid because he's a great player.

"We'll hand over, probably, in certain parts of the ground.

"It's to be finalised but it's the decision; do you lock him down with Johnson or McPharlin or do you roll over at certain parts of the ground?

"Typically most teams roll over these days.

"Because you could blink and Luke McPharlin could be playing on a wing. If you said to Luke, 'Go everywhere with Buddy Franklin', well, next minute Luke's playing wing, because Buddy can play on the wing.

"Do we want Luke playing on the wing? Well, probably not."

Johnson will likely go with Franklin when he moves further up the ground and McPharlin is more suited to taking Franklin if he pushes further inside attacking 50.

Lyon said the Dockers can't just be obsessed with defending Franklin.

"We just have to defend him at the right time and not be a total slave and try and attack him at the right time," Lyon said.

Johnson said earlier this week that he would try to attack when the opportunity presented itself.

"If he does push up I'll try and attack him as best I can," Johnson said on Tuesday.

"But hopefully he doesn't push too far up and we can just turn the ball over and keep going forward."

Fremantle's philosophy with any opposing forward line is to pressure the midfield supply.

Lyon preaches to his midfield and forwards to pressure the ball carrier at every opportunity to ensure his defenders get as much support as possible.

"Again the focus is going to be on clean or dirty ball in (from the midfield)," Lyon said.

"(If it's) clean ball in and it is lace out, well good luck (defending).

"We're certainly here to attack the game and take it on and we'll respect Buddy. But it won't be all our energies."

About the AFLCA
Round Eight Leaderboard
48 Nat Fyfe (Frem)
40 Max Gawn (Melb)
40 Jack Macrae (WB)
38 Tom Mitchell (Haw)
37 Trent Cotchin (Rich)
37 Patrick Cripps (Carl)
32 Jack Darling (WC)
32 Rory Laird (Adel)
31 Dustin Martin (Rich)
31 Steele Sidebottom (Coll)