FREMANTLE will be fighting to hold on to their standing as the team to beat this season as they take on the Hawks at Aurora Stadium on Sunday.
Sitting two games clear atop the AFL ladder, Fremantle will face arguably their biggest test of 2015 when they take on the reigning premiers at their second home in Launceston.
After suffering their first and only defeat so far in Round 10 against Richmond, the Dockers scraped over the line against Gold Coast and Collingwood, before defeating Brisbane by 36 points after scores were level in the third quarter.
But coach Ross Lyon isn’t fazed by the Dockers’ apparent slump in form and was confident post-match that his side had worked themselves into gear.
“We played some pretty good footy, we need to play some better footy than we’re playing now,” he said.
“I thought late in the third we changed it up a little bit and moved the ball a bit quicker to our forwards in the last quarter… so once we did that we scored a little bit better.
“It’s a long hard season and in the end I think we unlocked a fair bit in the last quarter – we looked pretty good.”
Lyon also indicated that the Dockers will be looking to replicate parts of Collingwood’s effort against the Hawks, as they aim for their first win in Launceston since 2006.
“I thought Collingwood were fantastic, pressured Hawthorn really well. So that’s going to be our challenge,” he said.
Speaking on 6PR on Tuesday, the Dockers' coach declared his side wouldn't be shying away from the challenge despite the quality of the opposition and Fremantle’s lack of success at the venue.
“We don’t fear anyone in the AFL, but we look forward to travelling to Launceston,” he said.
“We’re excited by the opportunity… we’re on top of the ladder for a reason, because we can play some really powerful football, and I’m really confident in our group.”
Players to Watch
Nat Fyfe has continued to stamp himself as one the competition’s best players this season, winning the most disposals of any Docker in 2015 while also holding a dominant lead in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award.
Averaging 31 disposals and more than a goal per game in 2015, Fyfe looms as the Dockers' biggest weapon in their clash against the Hawks.
Small forward Michael Walters has shot to the lead in the Dockers’ goalkicking this season after scoring eight goals in two weeks and will be one the Hawks' defensive unit will have to keep a close eye on.
Skipper Matthew Pavlich has also found some form, kicking three goals in the Round 14 win over Brisbane after failing to find a major for the entirety of June.
Matt Taberner was subbed out in the third quarter of the Dockers' win over Brisbane with only three disposals to his name and may be set for a return to the WAFL, despite enduring challenging conditions in the wet.
The man who replaced him, Matt De Boer, gathered 11 disposals but failed to make them count, coughing up five clangers, and may find himself under pressure to remain in the 22.
Omitted from the side to face Brisbane, Hayden Crozier may come into consideration to face the Hawks this week after 24 possessions for WAFL side Peel Thunder.
Cameron Sutcliffe travelled to Brisbane as the emergency and could also come into the frame for a return.
Ruckman Jonathon Griffin kicked two goals and had 35 hit-outs for Peel, but remains unlikely to displace Zac Clarke as Fremantle’s second ruck.