Fremantle have steeled themselves to confront finals giants Geelong in a bid to keep their premiership hopes alive in tonight's elimination final at the MCG.
Assistant coach Michael Prior said yesterday that while the Dockers had a deep respect for what the Cats had achieved in winning three of the past five flags, they would not be daunted by the task of ending their golden era.
Prior said with the finals experience of coach Ross Lyon and assistants Peter Sumich and Mark Stone, and on the strength of key performance indicators that mattered most to the club, Fremantle genuinely believed they would grab an upset win.
"We're really happy that we're here at the MCG playing finals footy against Geelong," Prior said as Fremantle players braved cold conditions in the waters of the St Kilda Sea Baths.
"At the end of the day, you've got to play at the MCG and beat these sides to win the grand final and that's our aim. Nothing fazes us, we come over here full of confidence.
"Our boys know that they have been there and done it, but we've got to come over here and play these good sides and beat them in finals footy in order to build our club and win grand finals.
"That's what we're about. Geelong present us with a great challenge and we're up for it. We're going to let loose and hopefully come away with a win."
Fremantle's two visits to the MCG this season have seen split results with a 12-point win over Richmond and a 29-point loss to Collingwood. But Prior believed the Dockers would take important momentum into just the seventh final since their 1995 inception.
He believed a fresh Aaron Sandilands would be a key weapon in the "vitally important" midfield battle against Geelong's on-ball division which will have to cope with the loss of the suspended Steve Johnson.
Prior also said a more mature Hayden Ballantyne, who riled the Cats with his antics in round one, would prove a serious danger, while captain Matthew Pavlich had weathered the injury woes which had hampered him in the back half of the season.
"He's probably the best he's been for a few weeks, which is positive for us," he said.
"He's been able to get out on the track and do a bit more than what he has in recent weeks, so he'll go into the game tomorrow fully prepared and ready to go."
Geelong midfielder James Kelly said last Saturday's emphatic 34-point win over Sydney had given the Cats a crucial confidence boost on the eve of yet another finals series. Kelly said they would be prepared for the similar defensive systems Lyon had employed against them when he was in charge of St Kilda in recent finals.
But he also believed the Cats' finals hardness would prove telling against the Dockers.
"Probably a little bit, mainly just because of our experience," Kelly said.
"It's something in finals that you really have to get used to the intensity and a lot of our guys have played a lot of finals."Our young guys have played finals too, which helps."
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