Dockers primed for AFL flag assault

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has declared his team will fear no one during the AFL finals series after they secured a top-four berth with a fighting eight-point win over Port Adelaide.


The Dockers’ flag hopes were hanging in the balance after they fell 12 points behind early in the third quarter of Saturday’s clash at Patersons Stadium.

But nine unanswered goals from Fremantle turned the match on its head, with the home side running out 16.9 (105) to 14.13 (97) winners to lock down a coveted top-four berth.

The result means Fremantle will now play an away qualifying final in the first week of the finals, instead of an elimination final.

Last year, the Dockers beat Geelong in a qualifying final at Simonds Stadium to set up a dream run to the grand final.

Lyon says his team is well placed to again thrive in the finals cauldron – even for the away games.

“Everyone has been on a long, hard, arduous season and the reward at the end is we get a double chance,” Lyon said.

“We’ve won a significant amount of games. It’s pleasing for the playing group that they get to have a genuine assault again.

“We go into (the finals) in good form.

“We’ve beaten Hawthorn, we beat Port, we ran Geelong to a kick and we haven’t played Sydney for a long time.

“We respect everyone, but nothing really holds any fears for us.”

Fremantle lost to Sydney by 17 points at the SCG in round five this year, but the Dockers beat the Swans in last year’s preliminary final in Perth.

The Power’s fifth-placed finish means they will now face a sudden-death elimination final against the in-form Tigers at Adelaide Oval next week.

Richmond shape as the ultimate dark horse of the finals series after producing a nine-game winning streak to snatch eighth spot.

Under the current finals format, no team has won the flag from outside of the top four.

But Power coach Ken Hinkley has urged his team to give it one mighty crack in an attempt to buck that trend.

“As we know now, she’s cutthroat. One mistake and you’re gone – season over,” Hinkley said.

“I would say right now we are playing as good a footy as we have played all year.

“I think we have prepared ourselves pretty well.

“We know what finals are about. We had a little taste of it last year.

“Today is perfect preparation.”

Fremantle defender Michael Johnson was clearly hampered by a sore back against the Power, but Lyon said the All-Australian would be fit to play next week.

The Dockers will also welcome back star midfielder Nat Fyfe from a two-match suspension.

Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow, who was thrust into the side just two weeks after breaking his thumb, tallied 27 possessions against the Power in a brave effort.

But it was ground-level forwards Hayden Ballantyne, Michael Walters and Chris Mayne who kicked the Dockers into gear, with the trio combining for seven goals during their side’s nine-goal blitz.

Power forward Jay Schulz stood tall with six goals, while Robbie Gray (33 possessions, two goals) was also influential.