Bradley blow for depleted Dockers

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 27 April 2013 | 12.50

DOWN AND OUT: Fremantle's Kepler Bradley grimaces in pain after suffering a knee injury. Picture: Daniel Wilkins Source: PerthNow

FREMANTLE will have to enact plan 'C' in their AFL forward line after Kepler Bradley suffered a suspected season-ending knee injury.

Fremantle started the season light-on for tall targets in attack, but are now scraping the bottom of the barrel after Bradley damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Friday night's one-point win over Richmond.

Bradley was set to play a crucial role for the Dockers over the next two months weeks while skipper Matthew Pavlich recovers from surgery to his plantaris tendon.

But with no Pavlich, Bradley or ruckman Aaron Sandilands (hamstring) to throw up forward, the Dockers will rely heavily on one-game players Tanner Smith and Jack Hannath over the coming weeks.

Ruckman/forward Zac Clarke, who has been plagued by leg injuries this season, is also a chance to bolster the forward line for Saturday night's away clash with Gold Coast.

While Fremantle's spearheads keep getting struck down by injury, their small forwards continue to thrive, with Hayden Ballantyne the hero against Richmond.

Ballantyne booted four goals - including the match-winner with just 84 seconds remaining - to lift the Dockers to their third win of the year, while fellow goalsneak Michael Walters and medium-sized forward Chris Mayne also played crucial roles in the 12.9 (81) to 12.8 (80) triumph.

Dockers coach Ross Lyon said he felt for 27-year-old Bradley, who is a cult hero among Fremantle fans and booted three goals in a lion-hearted effort against Hawthorn last week.

"It's really sad for any player, but when it's one of your own it makes it worse," Lyon said.

"We'll support Kepler and rehabilitate him.

"But, you know, one door shuts another one opens.

"Tanner Smith and Jack Hannath will continue. So we'll find a way. That's what we're paid to do."

Hannath was quiet in his AFL debut, tallying just four possessions and 11 hit-outs.

But the 21-year-old took a solid pack mark with just 30 seconds remaining to help keep Richmond at bay.

Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe is facing a nervous wait after kicking out at Richmond midfielder Daniel Jackson.

Fyfe was lying on his back and trying to get Jackson off him when he kicked out his leg, but the star Docker may escape suspension given the contact was merely a minor glancing blow.

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