Fremantle Docks play to their strengths in AFL preliminary finals

Fremantle’s Chris Mayne battles Sydney’s  Dane Rampe
Fremantle’s Chris Mayne battles Sydney’s Dane Rampe

FREMANTLE could add extra height to its forward line for Friday night’s preliminary final clash, should the weather remain clear.

Dockers tackling machine Chris Mayne, who will play his 150th game this weekend, said wind and the threat of rain led the Dockers to favour a smaller forward line in their 9-point qualifying final win against Sydney.

The move left most of the lead-up work to skipper Matthew Pavlich, with back-up ruckman Zac Clarke also spending time forward and booting one goal.

Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne were highly influential with three goals each in their return to the side, with the latter also setting up Clarke for an easy tap-in.

But the Dockers did appear in need of another option to aid Pavlich, particularly when Sydney’s defence began to get on top and move the ball aggressively.

“I back the coaches in,” Mayne said.

“I think on the weekend against Sydney they said it was going to rain and we went with that concept.

“We’ve got some terrific talls ready to go – Alex Pearce, Matt Taberner – but having Ballas (Ballantyne) back was terrific. He didn’t miss a beat.”

Despite finishing the home and away season in pole position and recording a week one finals win, pundits remain unconvinced the Dockers have what it takes to claim the premiership trophy.

Most of the arguments have centred on Fremantle’s attacking prowess, with the side averaging 84 points a game for the year.

But with a defence that has let in, on average, just 71points per game this season, Mayne said he was confident the Dockers could get the job done.

“I think we’re the best defence in the competition. I think that’s fair to say,” he said.

“We’ll stick to what we’re good at.

“We’re good at stopping sides and we’re doing enough to get over the line.”