Saturday’s clash between Fremantle and Sydney looms as a potential grand final sneak preview – but don’t tell Dockers coach Ross Lyon.
Fremantle produced one of their most ruthless halves of football to beat West Coast by 30 points in Sunday’s western derby at Domain Stadium.
The Dockers booted the first 11 goals of the match to cruise to the 17.9 (111) to 12.9 (81) victory, with the Eagles only clicking into gear once the contest was already over.
Fremantle were tipped by many to slide from premiership calculations this year.
But after disposing of Port Adelaide, Geelong, and West Coast in the first three rounds, the Dockers are well in contention to win the flag.
The same can be said for Sydney, who are also unbeaten following wins over Essendon, Port Adelaide, and GWS.
Lyon admits Saturday night’s showdown with Sydney in Perth will be a big test for his side.
But he was quick to downplay any talk of it being a grand final preview.
“Only those who write different stories to the ones we’re focused on (would say that),” Lyon said.
“Clearly it wouldn’t come from within.
“I think two equal forces will meet (on Saturday).
“We saw what Sydney did to Port Adelaide over there. “They’ll bring real heat for a long period of time.
“We’d like to keep the spread of goalkickers going. We’re going to need them.”
Fourth-placed Hawthorn still remains the bookies’ pick to win the flag, while ladder-leading Adelaide have jumped up to fifth favouritism.
Lyon was thrilled with his team’s first-half display against the Eagles, and was proud of the way his midfield group stood tall as a unit.
With David Mundy (21 disposals) and Michael Barlow (18) having quiet games by their standards, Ross Glendinning medallist Lachie Neale (42 possessions, three goals), Nat Fyfe (31 disposals), Stephen Hill (30 disposals, three goals), and Danyle Pearce (27 disposals, one goal) stood tall.
Neale, at just 21 years of age, has now won two Ross Glendinning medals.
The 176cm midfielder said former Swans captain and current Dockers assistant Brett Kirk had helped him immensely.
“As you know he was an inside beast of the competition when he was playing,” Neale said.
“I guess for me, my hardness and tackles and things like that had to improve when I walked through the door, so he has really helped me with that.
“He is one of the fiercest blokes that played. So to have him around has been a massive help for me.”