Fremantle small forward Hayden Ballantyne could be in danger of missing the Dockers’ opening match of the AFL season after suffering a calf injury in their nine-point NAB Challenge loss to Sydney.
The Swans hung on to post a 1.7.14 (65) to 1.6.11 (56) victory at Sydney’s Drummoyne Oval on Sunday after leading by 39 points early in the last quarter.
It was a well-contested scrap in difficult conditions on a small suburban ground, buffeted throughout by strong winds and lashed by driving rain in the final minutes.
The main concern arising out of the game for Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was what he believed was a calf injury to Ballantyne.
“If it is, he’ll probably miss round one,” Lyon told reporters after the game.
There was a concern of a different kind for Freo’s other celebrated small forward Michael Walters, who was reported for a third-quarter rough conduct incident involving Craig Bird, Sydney’s only multiple goalkicker.
Lyon expected Tendai Mzungu to be OK despite a hamstring issue.
Sydney reported just a couple of minor corks to Bird and Rhyce Shaw.
Assistant coach Henry Playfair, who was in charge for the day, was happy with the way Sydney improved in a couple of key areas after their disappointing first-up loss to Brisbane last week.
“To win the tackles by 25 and win the contested ball by 26, to get that hit was really important for us,” Playfair said.
The wind and rain and small ground made it hard for any of the high-profile key forwards to make an impact.
Matthew Pavlich had just five touches and two marks and went goalless, Lance Franklin had six possessions, one mark and one goal, and Adam Goodes had nine disposals, two marks and no scoring shots.
Playfair said Franklin and Goodes competed well in limited space in their first inter-club hitout of the year.
He said rookie Isaac Heeney was in the selection mix for round one after a second solid performance in as many weeks.
Josh Kennedy logged 33 touches for Sydney, who notched 84 more disposals.
With the breeze at their backs, Sydney slammed on three goals in three minutes to lead 24-3 at the first break and were 13 up at halftime.
Sydney scored 20 unanswered points in the third quarter and Tom Mitchell’s goal a minute into the last quarter appeared to have put them out of sight.
Consecutive majors to Matt de Boer and Nat Fyfe followed by a super goal to Zac Clarke and a major to Chris Mayne got Fremantle tantalisingly close as the game ended in driving rain.
Fyfe and de Boer each finished with two goals and Lachie Neale tallied 33 touches, while Alex Silvagni did well down back.
“We fought it out and exposed some of our younger players,” said Lyon, who described youngster Connor Blakely as clean, brave and smart.