The West

Docker Dean Solomon s infamous elbow to the head of Cameron Ling back in 2008. Picture: Channel Ten.
Docker Dean Solomon's infamous elbow to the head of Cameron Ling back in 2008. Picture: Channel Ten.

Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling expects emotions to run high tonight as Fremantle and the Cats seek to rediscover their best form on the eve of finals.

Over the past five years the teams have developed one of the fiercest rivalries in the AFL, with the grudge built on big games, close results and a decent amount of on-field spite and aggression.

Ling, who had his cheekbone broken by former Docker Dean Solomon in 2008, denied there was a genuine dislike between the sides but acknowledged a win at Simonds Stadium tonight would be worth far more than four points.

"I think there's a lot, while it might be hidden at times, a lot of deep respect for each other," Ling said.

"Most guys who play footy for a long time, you know there are teams you play against, players you play against that you just really want to beat.

"They might annoy you on the field, they might get under your skin a little bit, so that's why you want to beat them.

"There might be one or two personal (grudges), not that they'd ever say it, but I don't think the word dislike would be used.

"Certainly desperately want to beat and want to win against, they would definitely be used."

Fremantle have had the wood on Geelong since 2012, winning four of the past five games, including an upset win in last year's second qualifying final at Simonds Stadium.

The Cats are sitting third and the Dockers fourth on the ladder with four games remaining in the regular season, but neither have shown their best form over the past month.

Ling, who will be commenting on the game for Channel 7, said he expected both teams to approach tonight as an opportunity to iron out their kinks ahead of next month's finals series.

He said the Dockers' sloppy win over Carlton last week could give them more of an incentive to turn their form around quickly.

"Last week's form will mean nothing to them," Ling said.

"It might have given them that little kick to say, 'right, we need to start getting A, B, C, right so we hit finals' and they'll be a different team to what they were last week.

"They're both in the same boat a little bit, now really gearing up for the super important stuff and they want to hit that with some momentum.

"The game is probably a good step along the way to doing that."

Ling said the result could come down to Fremantle's forward line.

"I think when they're at their absolute best, the ball hits the ground in there and even if the opposition do win it, they feel like the Freo forwards are just swarming all over them," he said.

The West Australian

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