Nathan Fyfe says his Docker teammates are eager to get back on track. Photo: Pat Scala Nat Fyfe celebrates a goal with Stephen Hill, who should return for the clash with Carlton. Photo: Pat Scala
Fremantle has had almost two weeks to dwell on its round 18 loss to bottom side St Kilda, which could mean bad news for Carlton at Patersons Stadium on Thursday night.
Gun Dockers midfielder Nat Fyfe says the club has had ample time to be honest with themselves about what went wrong against the Saints. And they are keen to get back on track, quickly.
The Blues are keen to replicate the form that led to a 23-point win over North Melbourne at the start of the last round.
But as Fyfe says, due to round 18 being split over two weekends, those results were a long time ago. He also added some fuel to the long and ongoing argument that teams on a long winning streak at stages in a season are due for a loss.
Fyfe concedes that having won eight games in a row leading into the game against the Saints, and having a bye awaiting them after that clash, may have seen some Dockers lose their focus.
“Taking nothing away from St Kilda – they were red hot. They had some big players play some big games, so full credit to them,” Fyfe said.
“There could have been a number of different reasons (for the Dockers performance in their 58-point loss). We’ve played some good footy for a long period of time. We had won eight games in a row leading into that game; we had the bye coming up.
“We have a lot of structures and mechanics. But if everyone’s not bringing great effort, those structures and mechanics really mean nothing.
“That’s what we really identified and assessed during the week – we can have all the game plan in the world, but if everyone’s not on the same page effort wise, it doesn’t come to life.
“What happened against St Kilda wasn’t ideal. But it was a long time ago and the players had a long period of time to stew over what happened and really assess what happened. We had a pretty robust review. I know the feeling on the track today was excitement and really keen to get back to our best footy.”
The Dockers’ best football is certainly good enough to beat anyone – and Fyfe is a big part of them achieving that.
So good, that many suggest he could top the Brownlow Medal count this season – but of course he is ineligible to claim the honour due to a suspension early in the season.
But it doesn’t seem to phase him too much.
“It is what it is and that incident happened all of the way back in round 2,” he said. “There are other prizes I have on my mind.”
Fyfe said that watching the blockbuster last Saturday night when Hawthorn scored a thrilling 10-point win over Sydney also provided a good lift to the squad.
The Dockers travel to Geelong after playing the Blues and then host the Hawks in round 21.
It could be a telling game in terms of who finishes in the top two.
“It was a cracking game. I think most of the guys did (watch it) and that’s the standard really,” he said.
“It just shows how important it is to play right the way through the game. There is going to be momentum shifts and ultimately the team that can hold on for the longest will win.
“It was really enticing to watch a contest like that and it makes you want to play in those big games.”
Every game remaining for the Dockers is a big game now, thanks to its loss to the Saints.
They are in fourth spot on the ladder, equal on points with Port Adelaide (fifth) who they will host in round 23 on Saturday, August 30 at 1.10pm.
The games against the Cats and the Hawks (both one win above them on the ladder) will also be telling. And they certainly can’t afford to drop games against the Blues (this week) or Brisbane in round 22.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands is expected to return to the side this week, along with small forward Hayden Ballantyne and midfielder Stephen Hill.
Fyfe says that having Sandilands back in the side was vital to them succeeding.
“Yeah I’m pretty stoked to have him back,” he said.
“We know Aaron can give us that first use, and we can really dictate, set-up around that. And his around the ground work, his follow-up pressure, is vital. He becomes another midfielder for us.
“The important part about this time of the year is to be playing good footy and to have a good, healthy list. I think we are heading towards both of those things.
“Obviously the game against St Kilda was a bit of a speed hump in that map. But we’re confident that our best footy is good enough to get it done.
“And the players certainly know how crucial the next five-week window is to the rest of our season.” Follow WAtoday on Twitter
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