Docker s faith in defence plan
Docker's faith in defence plan

Ross Lyon's defence-oriented game plan is yet to produce a grand final triumph in four attempts, but Fremantle full-back Zac Dawson has not lost faith in the system.

The 27-year-old knows more than any other Docker what it feels like to play on the game's greatest stage and walk away empty-handed.

In four visits to the MCG for the season decider, the former St Kilda defender has played in one draw and been on the receiving end of two close losses and one whitewash.

And though it doesn't get any easier, Dawson does not blame Lyon nor the game plan that re-engineered the Saints and now Fremantle for coming up short each time.

In Dawson's eyes, getting away from the one-percenters and structures intrinsic to Lyon's model is where the fault lies.

"I don't think the other boys were too overawed," Dawson said of last year's grand final loss to Hawthorn.

"It's just the unknown, that's what gets you. They might have expected the game to be something more than it was.

"They think it's going to be the most physical, the most demanding game, whereas we got to half-time and we were behind, but that was the time when all the guys started to realise it's no different to any other game.

"That's when we started to do the basics well and we got ourselves back in the game. If we ever get back into that position, I think it'll be a lot better for us because that experience is just an unbelievable thing.

"It (the game plan) can absolutely win a grand final. Even watching the Super Bowl, you see the best offence versus the best defence and the defence more often than not will win the game."

Dawson personally had a grand final to forget.

Twice the game's most dangerous forward, Jack Gunston, got the better of him in one-on-one marking contests and goaled.

It was a hard pill to swallow on the day for Dawson, a footballer with more than his fair share of knockers who had finally won over some admirers for producing his best football in finals campaigns during 2009 and 2010.

He said he moved on within 24 hours of one of his worst games for Fremantle, but not without taking a nugget of wisdom away.

"Once that day was over you don't have to deal with it personally and you just put it away otherwise, especially as a full-back, you won't be able to exist in the competition," Dawson said.

"My personal goals are to be a bit more confident as a player, back myself in a bit more and not be so one-dimensional."

Dawson predicted improvement this season would come from the side's "bottom 10 players", nominating Tom Sheridan and Lachie Neale as two youngsters who could jump out of the box.

He also predicted that former Essendon forward Scott Gumbleton would also have an impact in attack.

The West Australian

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