North Melbourne players aren’t feeling a sense of dread heading into Saturday night’s encounter with Fremantle at Domain Stadium, according to star forward Drew Petrie.
The Dockers are favourites to win this year’s AFL flag after moving two wins clear on top of the table.
In contrast, North Melbourne (4-3) are yet to hit top form, with injuries to key players Andrew Swallow (thumb), Daniel Wells (Achilles tendon), and Nick Dal Santo (hamstring) hurting their cause.
Fremantle have turned Domain Stadium into a fortress under coach Ross Lyon, with the team winning 26 of their past 28 matches there.
But the Kangaroos will take a no-fears approach into Saturday’s game after pulling off a shock 13-point win over Fremantle in Perth in round six last year.
“If you go into a game like that dreading and fearing what you might come across, then you’re beaten already,” Petrie told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
“It’s an enjoyable environment to play in, because they’re the best wins you have – the ones when everyone else is against you.
“Last year winning twice in Perth (by beating both Fremantle and West Coast), it gives us really good belief going into this game.
“Instead of hoping and crossing your fingers and toes that everything goes your way and you might win, we go into this game believing that we can actually perform and match these sides.”
Fremantle won the inside-50m count 55-45 in that match last year, but their inability to hit their targets up forward proved costly.
“I learned don’t just bomb it in when Pav is triple teamed,” Dockers coach Ross Lyon said.
“You’ve got to have good ball use against them.”
Petrie took a series of clutch marks late in last week’s win over Essendon.
The 32-year-old, who has booted 370 goals during his career, said he was happy to drift back whenever he’s needed.
“Often I’ll go behind the footy if it’s late in a quarter or towards the end of a game if we’re up by two or three goals,” Petrie said.
“I’ll go back when we don’t need to score anymore I guess.”
Petrie is expecting a tough match-up on Dockers defender Luke McPharlin, who returns for the Dockers after missing two weeks with calf soreness.
The match will mark Nat Fyfe’s 100-game milestone, with the star Dockers midfielder cleared to play after escaping with a fine for a tripping offence.