Dockers kill off AFL tanking debate

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon hopes the tanking debate has been finally put to bed after his team posted a crushing 79-point AFL win over Essendon at Domain Stadium on Saturday night.

The Dockers had been accused of putting the cue in the rack following their 0-10 start to the year, but they bounced back with the 20.6 (126) to 6.11 (47) win over the suspension-riddled Bombers.

The result moved Fremantle from bottom spot into 16th place on the ladder, and they’ll have a chance to make it two wins in a row when they face off against struggling Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday.

Lyon said accusations of tanking in order to gain higher draft picks was simply off the mark and that Fremantle’s crushing win against the Bombers was proof of that.

“A lot was made of this (game). And people start running the tanking agenda. I hope it puts it to bed once and for all, particularly from our club’s point of view,” Lyon said.

“Culturally, we want to build the habits now while we’re going through adversity for the future because they don’t magically appear.

“One pick isn’t worth destroying your club culture for.”

The Dockers’ worst-ever season was in 2001 when they notched just two wins.

But Lyon said bettering that mark wasn’t a driving motivator for him and his players.

“It’s not something that’s on my mantelpiece at home, no,” Lyon said.

“At the end of the day it’s a losing season … 0-22, 1-21, 2-20, 6-16 – does it really matter? I’m not sure it does.

“I don’t think it’s about numbers and wins and losses. Our aim is to win, and that was evident (against Essendon).”

The Bombers were woeful from the outset, with some horrible turnovers costing them dearly.

Essendon have been brave since having 12 of their stars suspended over the club’s supplements saga.

But coach John Worsfold fears his side’s inept display is the first big sign of wear and tear catching up with the team.

“They’ve been enormous so far. But that’s the first time they looked like they couldn’t dig deep and find anything,” Worsfold said.

“We were miles off at the start of the game and really looked like a team that is below AFL level at the start.

“And not just a few players – across the board. So that was disappointing.”

Compounding Essendon’s woes was Ryan Crowley’s hamstring tear.

Crowley tallied 21 disposals against his former side before being cut down by injury with just five minutes remaining.

James Kelly is set to return for Friday night’s clash with Hawthorn after being rested from the trip west, but Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti could be suspended over his head-high bump on Chris Mayne.

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