Taberner ready to tame Lions at the Gabbatoir

Matt Taberner celebrating a goal. Picture: Fremantle Football Club

Matt Taberner has simply picked up from where he left off, with the Fremantle spearhead enjoying another impressive campaign this year.

After a breakout 2020 season, Taberner currently has 20 goals for the year and has kicked at least two in every game.

Ahead of Sunday’s match against Brisbane, Taberner identified Harris Andrews as a likely opponent, potentially setting up a tantalising battle between two of the league’s best key position players.

“They’ve got some really capable talls in Harris Andrews, who’s obviously been one of the best defenders in the game for the last couple of seasons,” Taberner said.

“So whether it be him or Marcus Adams, we expect maybe (Darcy) Gardner to come in from concussion.

“I don’t know if they’re a lockdown defence as much as some other teams, so they might be happy to hand over.”

Fremantle’s forward line teased its potential last week, after an explosive shootout against West Coast in the first half.

However, the Dockers only managed two goals after half-time as the Eagles ran over the top of them.

Taberner admitted that the forward line has changed around a lot this season, but said the personnel and experience are there to get the job done.

“We’ve had plenty of guys go through there during the season, I don’t think we’ve had a forward line that’s been the same six or seven forwards each week,” he said.

“But I think that’s the beauty of our team, we’ve got a lot of guys that play a very similar role and can come in and we can trust them to do their job.

“Tomorrow will be no different. We’ve got some experience up there with myself, Lobby (Rory Lobb) and Michael Walters, and young guys like Liam Henry.

“If we can do our job as tall forwards, myself and Rory, and bring these small guys into the game, we’ll look really dangerous.”

After Brisbane limited Port Adelaide to just five goals last week, Fremantle has a formidable task in front of it.

Taberner said he’s confident that the forward line will deliver if it gets enough supply.

“I think with Brisbane, they restrict opponents’ goals not just through their six key defenders,” he said.

“It’s sort of the whole 18 guys on the field, so it’s a team defence.

“I’ve got no doubt if we can get some supply, our six forwards are capable of scoring. We’ve got a lot of midfielders who can kick goals as well. Even last week, I thought in the first half you gave the six or seven forwards supply, we were able to kick a score.”

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Fremantle’s backline has been dealt a further blow though, with more injuries to key players.

First-year player Heath Chapman is out for the season with a shoulder injury, Ethan Hughes is set for a stint on the sidelines while All-Australian and reigning club best and fairest Luke Ryan will miss another week due to his calf issue.

Taberner believes that the backline will still hold up given the team’s depth.

“I think if you look at our squad, early in the pre-season you’d probably say our defence has the most depth in terms of our size and flexibility,” he said.

“No doubt it hurts having Chappy (Heath Chapman) out and Ethan Hughes, who’s been a great player for us this season. But I’m really confident with the guys coming in.

“Taylin Duman is hungry, he can do a really good job. Tobe Watson was really good last week I thought, so we’ll back those guys in.”

The Dockers’ early momentum and three-game winning streak were cut short against the Eagles last week.

With Sydney, Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs to come over the next month, Sunday’s game against Brisbane looms as an important clash.

“Away wins are crucial if you want to play finals football and it’s something we’ve really focused on,” Taberner said.

“It was good to get a result last time we were on the road against Adelaide and if we can get one over here, particularly on Sunday against Brisbane, it would really set our season up.”

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About Hamish Spence 41 Articles
Hamish writes about Aussie Rules, cricket, basketball and all things Tasmanian sport for The Inner Sanctum. His experience includes working for organisations like 10 News First, AFL Tasmania, The Mercury, the TSL, the Hobart Hurricanes and Draft Central. He recently finished a media degree at The University of Tasmania.

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