Freo keen to rebound after big-stage flop

Matt Taberner's return is a boost for the Dockers who were thrashed by Geelong last week.
Matt Taberner's return is a boost for the Dockers who were thrashed by Geelong last week.

The extra break has given their battered bodies time to recover, but Fremantle egos are still in need of some repairing heading into Sunday's AFL clash with Sydney at Metricon Stadium.

The Dockers' bid for a finals berth was given a rude awakening last week in a 69-point home loss to Geelong.

Fremantle scored just three goals for the match, with the flop all the more painful given they were playing on the Thursday night stage.

Geelong's bigger bodies on a wet night proved crucial, with the Dockers copping a bruising both physically and on the scoreboard.

The 10-day break between games has given Fremantle ruckman Sean Darcy enough time to recover from a minor knee injury, while the extra time has also been sufficient for Matt Taberner to prove he has overcome a calf injury that has sidelined him since round 15.

Fremantle are still in the thick of the finals race despite their hefty loss to Geelong, but their record against top-eight sides this year has been worrying.

In games against sides who started round 19 in the top eight, Fremantle have won just one of eight. That solid victory was a two-point triumph over Sydney in round 10.

Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said his team was determined to bounce back from last week's heavy defeat.

"It (the 10-day break) has given us a lot of time to reflect and think about our performance against Geelong," Longmuir said.

"I know our players are really keen to get out there and respond. We need to get back to playing our way, and putting in a better effort than we did last Thursday."

The Swans have been the surprise packet of 2021, rising from a lowly 16th last year to become a premiership smokey.

Sydney (11-6) started the round just a win adrift of fourth spot, and will be aiming to notch their fourth straight win.

The Swans have recalled veteran Sam Reid for his first game since round six in the only change to the side that beat GWS by 26 points last week.

The return of Taberner for Fremantle has offset the loss of Rory Lobb (ankle), while defender Hayden Young and ruckman Lloyd Meek have also been brought back.

Ethan Hughes and Blake Acres were dropped, while forward Sam Switkowski goes out with a hamstring injury.

Australian Associated Press