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Fremantle Dockers will bid for their first-ever AFL Grand Final appearance when they host defending Premiers Sydney Swans at Patersons Stadium tonight. We’ll have live scores from 7.45pm AEST.
And then there were three.
Hawthorn have finally laid to rest the Kennett Curse with a thrilling five-point win over Geelong to book them a place in the grand final and a chance at further redemption for last year’s runner-up.
All that’s left to determine now is who their opponents will be – the 2012 premiers in Sydney or Fremantle, the little team that could.
The Dockers have home ground advantage, a week’s rest and the confidence that comes from a stellar win against Geelong in enemy territory.
Sydney are playing for the third finals week in a row, have a mounting injury list and are playing in hostile territory.
These would be major factors in writing off any other side in the competition, but this is the Swans.
If any team can win in Perth, it is the Bloods.
The Swans and the Dockers have the two best defences in the AFL.
Both teams play hard and pride themselves on the effort of the team and not the individual.
Both pride themselves on applying pressure and winning the contested footy.
Whoever handles that pressure the best will come out on top tonight.
There has been a lot of expectation building in Perth on the back of the Dockers stellar year and the stirring win in Geelong two weeks ago.
Talk is of the Dockers making their first ever grand final appearance.
If the Fremantle players give even the smallest of thoughts to next week, however, it will cost them and there is no better team to make them pay than Sydney.
The Dockers welcome back All-Australian defender Michael Johnson into the team in what will be a huge boost for the home side.
Their star players in Mathew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe and Stephen Hill stood up when it counted against Geelong.
They will have to do it again and will undoubtedly be called upon to lift their teammates when the inevitable challenge comes from the Swans.
This is the biggest test the club has ever had to face and if they pass, they will have surely laid to rest any lingering doubts about their mental toughness.
The Swans travel without Kurt Tippet and Tom Mitchell, as well as having missed club-great Adam Goodes for some time.
How much this actually means to the result, we shall see, but if any team can cover for the loss of these players, it is Sydney.
Time and again they have displayed a spirit and determination that has become the envy of the competition, and the challenge of winning in Perth for a chance to line-up against Hawthorn for the second year running will undoubtedly spur them on.
Can Fremantle show the competition they have finally arrived by beating the Swans?
We’ll see, but get set for a classic contest either way.