Ross Lyon plots to clear up clearance letdowns

It must frustrate Ross Lyon when Fremantle dominates hitouts, but can’t translate that into an advantage in clearances.

It does happen a bit to the Dockers.

When you’ve got a 211-centimetre ruckman who is regularly getting his hands on the ball first, you’d expect to be leaving stoppages with the pill in one of your runner’s hands more often than not.

But while the Dockers beat Collingwood by 70 points in round one, the clearances were to the Magpies advantage – 38 to 33.

The teams shared the honours around the ground (24 each) but the Pies won 14-9 at ball-ups in the centre.

The hitouts were one-sided, though: 46 to 25 in the Dockers' favour.

Sandilands won 39 of those 46 hitouts.

How much easier could the game be for Fremantle if the next person to touch the ball after Sandilands has won a hitout was wearing a purple jumper with an anchor on it?

This question must be burning Lyon, who said he has been using the 15-day break since their round-one clash to work on strategies in this area.

“We’ve done line training, more of it,” he said. “But nothing substitutes for the intensity of the game and opposition, physicality and pressure. So we’ll get to see on the weekend.

“Aaron has still got to compete fiercely and get his hand to it.”

To the Dockers' credit they did bounce back after a slow start against the Pies and did start to win clearances.

“First quarter we were predictable and squeezed a bit,” Lyon said.

“They had a really good capacity to adjust throughout the game, so in the end we won clearances and won goals from clearances. It’s an important part.

“Aaron is really experienced and we’ve got enough experience in there that they need to be able to read the game and not wait for the little bloke in the green top or the old angry bloke at quarter-time to come down and talk to them.

“I’d like them to adjust on the run and that’s part of our maturing and understanding how to be successful. I’m really confident that the group’s learnt from that and they’ll be able to adjust.”

On Saturday the Dockers meet the Gold Coast, which, led by Gary Ablett and Jaeger O’Meara, will be looking to show that its round-one win over Richmond was no fluke.

Ablett (six), David Swallow (five), O’Meara (five) and Michael Rischitelli (four) won important clearances in the win over the Tigers.

Ablett should find the going a bit tougher this week as he is sure to be reacquainted with the competition's number-one stopper, Ryan Crowley.

“The little champ (Ablett), he's got that nickname for a reason,” Lyon said.

“I think he (Crowley) and Ablett have pretty good battles. But (Dion) Prestia is in really good form. (Jarrod) Harbrow is in really good form. Swallow has kicked a few ... we won't put all of our energies into one player.

“They seem to be working hard. The competition's really even and Gold Coast are a really important part of that even competition.”

This story Ross Lyon plots to clear up clearance letdowns first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.