Coach Ross Lyon conceded premiership fancies Fremantle must lift after a last-gasp five-point victory over a plucky Carlton at Patersons Stadium last night.
The Dockers were forced to cope without Matthew Pavlich (concussion) and Tendai Mzungu (hamstring) before Lachie Neale nailed a 30m set shot with 40 seconds left to steal the 12.11 (83) to 11.12 (78) victory.
The thrilling win after trailing by 10 points midway through the final quarter moved Fremantle into third spot and revived their top-two ambitions a fortnight after being humbled by bottom team St Kilda.
Lyon praised his players for digging in after losing two players to injury in the first half, but said last year's grand finalists had to improve.
"We found a way, but clearly we've got plenty of work to do," Lyon said.
"We need to improve. That footy's going to take us nowhere.
"Clearly the last two weeks haven't been great footy, pre or post the break, so we've got some work to do."
They could be without their captain and the versatile Mzungu heading into a crunch game against Geelong at Simonds Stadium a week tomorrow that will be crucial in shaping the top four.
Lyon said he hoped Pavlich would recover after being substituted out of the match at half-time with concussion, but confirmed Mzungu had sustained a low-grade hamstring strain.
Pavlich was collected by an accidental elbow to the jaw from Nick Graham as he went to tackle the Carlton defender early in the second quarter. It was his second head knock in a fortnight.
The Fremantle champion lay on the ground dazed for about 30 seconds before going to the interchange bench. He played no further part in the game.
Mzungu spent virtually all of the second half riding an exercise bike on the sidelines.
He came on to the ground midway through the final quarter but lasted little more than two minutes before coming off.
Nat Fyfe and Hayden Ballantyne were heroic in the final term with Fremantle nearing a second straight shock loss. Fyfe had 11 disposals and five clearances in the final term to drag the Dockers over the line. Ballantyne marked his return from suspension by lifting to kick two of his three goals in the last quarter.
Lyon said he was not concerned that a couple of stars had saved the team from an embarrassing defeat.
"That's what they're paid to do," he said.