The West

Freo hitting finals in form
Fremantle celebrate a goal against North Melbourne. Picture: AFL Media.

WA football stepped closer last night to a bonanza in the first weekend of the AFL finals, which could include home games for both West Coast and Fremantle, or an historic western derby final.

The Dockers' stunning 53-point win, 20.12 (132) to 12.7 (79), over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium elevated them to seventh and cemented their finals spot the day after the Eagles moved to fourth by beating Collingwood.

West Coast will need to beat Hawthorn at the MCG on Friday night to retain that spot, while Fremantle will fight Geelong and North Melbourne for the sixth, seventh and eighth positions.

If the Cats lose to Sydney at Simonds Stadium on Saturday, the Dockers could claim sixth and a home final if they beat Melbourne by more than the Kangaroos defeat last-placed GWS.

An Eagles loss against the Hawks would drop them to fifth if the Magpies beat Essendon.

Fremantle will know all results bar the Collingwood match by the time they play.

Dockers coach Ross Lyon refused to declare captain Matthew Pavlich - a late withdrawal yesterday with groin, hamstring and Achilles soreness - a certainty to start against the Demons. He also warned his team not to get "seduced" by the fact it had already earned a finals berth.

"All I know is, you can't play in and win finals until you're in them and you know who you're playing," Lyon said. "All I know is you look too far ahead and concentrate on results and potential outcomes, you get distracted and you get seduced by results.

"We're not backing off, we're focusing on why we've been able to improve and that's our players and our coaches working really hard together to develop a brand of footy that will stand up."

A derby final would have to be played on either the first Friday night of the finals or the Sunday because of rugby commitments at Patersons Stadium on the Saturday.

It was a mouth-watering prospect Eagles midfielder Luke Shuey was happy to talk up yesterday, urging all WA football fans to start doing everything they could to try to get a ticket if it eventuated.

"Quite often they talk about derbies over here getting talked up like a final," Shuey said on Melbourne radio station SEN.

"But for it actually to be a final and if we finish fifth and they finish eighth, it's obviously a knockout final. So it wouldn't get any bigger than that. I think it would be great for WA footy."

Lyon was unsure after yesterday's game whether Kepler Bradley and Adam McPhee had suffered concussion, despite both initially being unable to stand up after copping accidental heavy hits to the head during the match.

Bradley was substituted out of the match at half-time because he was "throwing up". He had returned to the game after his knock. McPhee was helped from the ground, but returned to play a telling role in defence and also kicked two booming goals.

Lyon said beating North had earned his players some deep satisfaction.

"I think a team's finest moment is when they work hard together, they get what they want and they get a lick of the ice-cream for a couple of hours," he said.

"They get on the plane and they enjoy each other's company, that's real pleasure. We all like a beer, but that real deep respect that, 'Mate, you have a go for me and I enjoy being with you on the flight back' is a nice period for the players."

The West Australian

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