No panic for Dockers as finals approach

Fremantle defender Michael Johnson insists his team don’t need to overhaul their game plan as they attempt to fix their waning form heading into the AFL finals.

The Dockers’ premiership hopes are looking shaky following consecutive losses, with a leg injury to star midfielder Nat Fyfe compounding their woes.

Fyfe will miss the next two games because of inflammation in his left leg, a condition similar to shin splints.

By the time finals roll around, Fyfe will have played just two of the previous six matches, leaving him short of match fitness.

Fremantle’s scoring output has dropped noticeably in the second half of the season.

The Dockers scored more than 100 points on five occasions during the first eight rounds.

But they have failed to reach triple figures since then, although Sunday’s match against the struggling Demons in Perth shapes as a potential confidence-booster for the Dockers.

Fremantle remain a strong chance to finish on top of the table, and Johnson said it was important not to make any knee-jerk reactions that could derail their season.

“We back our game plan in and our structure,” Johnson said.

“We are sitting on top of the ladder and I am sure we didn’t score a massive amount when we were having all of those wins.

“We are always trying to improve our game and trying to get it inside 50 a lot quicker than the opposition roll back.

“There is always something for us to improve on and that is clearly one – trying to take the game on and be bold with the ball.

“We are going in the right direction.”

Johnson missed last year’s finals series because of a back problem, and the injury curse struck him again in round 10 this year when he was cut down by a hamstring tear.

What Johnson thought would be a four-week layoff turned into 10 weeks.

“I have never done a hamstring before that incident,” Johnson said.

“I only found out the day after we got the scan that I had a bit of a tendon injury with it as well.

“When I found out I was a bit shocked, but I didn’t let it get to to myself because I knew I still had a chance to come back and play for Fremantle this year.

“I now have two games under my belt and will get a couple more before the finals, so I should be cherry ripe.”

Errors and poor decision making cost the Dockers dearly in last week’s 11-point loss to North Melbourne.

Johnson is confident the team can quickly fix those issues.

Melbourne have lost their past 15 matches in Perth, with their last win at Domain Stadium coming in 2004 when they beat the Dockers by 31 points.

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