Dockers aim to derail out-of-form Eagles

Fremantle will be aiming to derail West Coast’s top-four hopes when the two teams lock horns in Sunday’s western derby at Domain Stadium.

The Dockers are out of the finals mix after snaring just three wins from 18 games.

Although the disappointment of a failed season remains a sore point for the Dockers, it’s at least allowed them to enter derby XLIV with nothing to lose.

The situation is vastly different for West Coast, whose top-four hopes will be virtually extinguished if they lose to the Dockers.

“Would we like to knock them over? Yeah,” Dockers coach Ross Lyon said.

“Would we like to be a road bump for them and derail them a little bit? Yes.

“But talk’s cheap, and we’ve learnt emotion doesn’t get it done.”

Fremantle entered 2016 as one of the flag favourites after winning last year’s minor premiership.

But their inability to adapt to a new attacking game plan – combined with injuries to key players – have consigned the Dockers to one of their worst ever seasons.

Barring a dramatic form reversal, Fremantle are likely to finish in 16th spot on the table.

And they could be on the end of some heavy losses over the final four rounds of the season when they take on premiership hopefuls West Coast, Adelaide (home), GWS (away), and the Bulldogs (home).

Instead of fearing that tough run, Lyon wants his team to view the stretch as an opportunity to shape the top eight.

West Coast loom as the most winnable game over that period given their patchy form.

The Eagles suffered an upset 19-point loss to Collingwood last week, and they were well below their best during a recent five-match winning run against sides lower than them on the ladder.

West Coast have been written off as a legitimate premiership threat by most AFL experts, but Lyon remains wary of last year’s grand finalists.

“We’re not being fooled (into thinking) they’re out of form,” Lyon said.

“To win eight out of your last (11) in this competition is elite.”

Fremantle have been bolstered by the return of ruckman Aaron Sandilands (ribs) and goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne (fractured cheekbone), but defender Zac Dawson misses through suspension.

West Coast will welcome back star ruckman Nic Naitanui, who has missed the past six weeks after undergoing surgery to relieve Achilles tendon pain.

Defender Eric Mackenzie has been dropped for the second time this season, while Sam Butler (groin), and Liam Duggan (calf) were forced out.

Malcolm Karpany was axed.

The Dockers will be desperate to bounce back from last week’s 90-point loss to Sydney, which doubled as Matthew Pavlich’s 350-game milestone.

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