Retired Sydney champion Jude Bolton says Fremantle have taken their defensive pressure to a level never seen before and are a big chance to beat Hawthorn in the grand final.
Bolton was starved of oppor- tunities in Saturday night's preliminary final as the Dockers dominated all over the ground, eventually winning by 25 points to progress to their first grand final in their 19th season.
"Their pressure around the footy … they set up so well defensively," Bolton said.
"We lost our structures up forward and they were smashing us around the ball in terms of contested and uncontested footy.
"They're a really well-drilled side. They put enormous pressure all the way along the ground and we felt the full force of it."
The result marked the end of dual premiership player Bolton's remarkable 325-game career which began in 1999.
Bolton pointed to Fremantle's stunning qualifying final upset of Geelong as proof they were "absolutely" capable of beating Hawthorn to claim an historic premiership.
"They beat Geelong at their home ground and we know how hard that is," Bolton said.
"It's just that disciplined effort and I know Ross Lyon, he demands that of his team.
"I really commend the Fremantle guys."
Bolton said the raucous Dockers home crowd had played a role in the result, contributing to the intensity of the match.
"Over here the crowd was really swarming and swelling and you just need to have that little bit of composure," he said.
"We weren't getting our hands on the footy and when we did, we coughed it up.
"It just played into their hands a lot. We lost our structure up forward and in the end they played really well.
"Their pressure … it's gone to another level and that's what it needs to in finals footy."
Bolton was chaired off the ground through a guard of honour from both teams.
The Fremantle players interrupted their victory celebration to pay tribute to Bolton, who later thanked his opponents for the gesture.
"I said to Matthew Pavlich, 'you don't have to do that, especially going into a grand final, you should just be enjoying it'," Bolton said.
"They're a great club and really well led by those sorts of guys and I really appreciate it."