Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir concedes his team can’t seem to handle the heat when the pressure reaches a certain level, with the Dockers’ finals hopes now hanging by a thread.
The Dockers dropped from eighth to 12th on the ladder on the back of Sunday’s 64-point mauling at the hands of Brisbane.
It means Fremantle need to beat West Coast and St Kilda and hope other results fall their way in order to reach the finals for the first time since 2015.
Fremantle have won just two of their ten games this year against sides who are currently sitting inside the top eight.
The Dockers won the inside-50 count against Brisbane on Sunday, but they lost the tackles 71-35 in a damning stat.
Speaking after the 18.10 (118) to 8.6 (54) loss, Longmuir said his team’s intensity wasn’t good enough when they confront heavyweight sides.
“That’s been a bit of a theme against the better sides – we’ve got a level at the moment that we can play at, and once teams bring more than that, we can’t absorb that and can’t play our way,” Longmuir said.
“As I said to the players after the game, we need to make sure we learn those lessons.
“They’re hard lessons at the moment, but we need to improve from games like this and we need to set our standards a lot higher so we can start mixing it with teams that play at a top-four level.”
The Dockers had jumped into eighth spot on the back of their thrilling four-point win over Richmond in Round 20.
Longmuir had warned his players not to get caught up in the hype surrounding their finals chances, but it seems his advice fell on deaf ears.
“I think sometimes as a player you read all the good press, you get all the pats on the back after a good effort last week,” Longmuir said.
“It doesn’t take much of a lowering of preparation for you to get whacked in this game, especially when you come up against good sides. We got a lesson (against Brisbane).
“I just think our level of efficiency with ball in hand gets questioned under real pressure of a top-four team.”
The Dockers will need to lick their wounds ahead of a crunch western derby clash with West Coast.