Taberner reaping reward for hard work

TABBOOTING four goals and hauling down seven contested marks on his return to AFL level was reward for Matt Taberner’s hard work improving his game, according to Fremantle coach Ross Lyon.

After being overlooked in the opening six rounds and told to hone his ruck craft to squeeze into the side, Taberner made a triumphant comeback in Sunday’s 37-point victory over Essendon.

The 199cm big man had been knocking on the door after slotting 15 goals in six WAFL games, and carried that form into the come-from-behind win against the Bombers.

Taberner kicked Freo’s opening goal after starting on the bench, and his fourth major was crucial in the final term as the Dockers steamrolled the tiring visitors.

After 46 games and 45 goals in five seasons as a Docker, Taberner appears ready to nail down a spot in Freo’s forward line.

“It’s a reward for going back and building your game, isn’t it?” Lyon said of the 23-year-old’s performance.

“Matty, to his credit, has worked really hard off the rookie list but sometimes you get opportunities when maybe you shouldn’t be playing and it can give you a false sense of where you’re at.

“And probably not as sharp or keenness sub-consciously to work on the things you need to.

“(Assistant coach) David Hale has worked really closely with him and it’s nice that he got some reward for effort.”

Lyon was also full of praise for skipper Nat Fyfe (26 disposals and two goals) after a quiet Western Derby, while Michael Walters bounced back with 26 touches spending more time in midfield following a down patch of form.

Recruit Bradley Hill was instrumental in the Dockers fighting back from 27 points behind during the second term to snatch the lead for the first time early in the final stanza.

The three-time Hawthorn premiership wingman racked up 12 of his career-best 37 possessions during the Dockers’ third-quarter surge.

“His run has been exceptional for us as a club. We’re fortunate that he’s come through and we’re fortunate he’s stayed dog-hungry,” Lyon said.

“He’s our hardest trainer – or one of. Some people can run in a circle and some can run game day and he’s a great game-day runner.”

Fremantle’s victory lifted the club – which was believed by some to be at its lowest ebb after a disastrous round two loss to Port Adelaide – to a 4-3 record and ninth spot on the ladder with a clash against Richmond to come next Sunday.

Asked if he was delighted by Fremantle’s position after seven rounds, Lyon was keen to keep a lid on the Dockers’ resurgence.

“I think delighted is really … blowing the lid off, isn’t it?” Lyon said.

“That’s a bit full-on from where I sit, but we’ve shown some character.

“From the lowest point in the club’s history, it’s probably not a bad position to get to.”