Silvagni set job of stopping Buddy
Silvagni set job of stopping Buddy

He started the year as a back-up defender, but Alex Silvagni will hold a major key to Fremantle's flag hopes when he lines up on Lance Franklin in Saturday's qualifying final against Sydney at ANZ Stadium.

The Dockers secured fourth spot and a finals double chance with an eight-point AFL win over Port Adelaide at Patersons Stadium on Saturday.

Heavy downpours before the match saw Silvagni replaced in the side by rebounding defender Garrick Ibbotson in a tactical move.

But with Sydney's forward line brimming with big-bodied marking talent, Silvagni will be rushed back as the Dockers attempt to repeat last year's feat of winning an away qualifying final.

The Swans could boast a forward line featuring Franklin, Adam Goodes, Sam Reid and Kurt Tippett, all of whom stand over 191cm.

Franklin, who was rested from Saturday's loss to Richmond, has booted a league-high 67 goals in 19 games this season.

Silvagni played 15 games in his debut season of 2010, but has managed just 30 appearances in the four seasons since then.

However, with Luke McPharlin (calf) no certainty to return during the finals series, Fremantle will need Silvagni to become a rock in defence.

Fellow backman Michael Johnson is expected to be fit to take on Sydney despite struggling with a recent back injury.

Johnson was clearly hampered against the Power, especially in the second quarter when he battled to even run at half pace.

But Dockers coach Ross Lyon is confident the All-Australian will be able to overcome the pain to perform his role against the Swans.

Fremantle will welcome back star midfielder Nat Fyfe from suspension, while the Swans are set to be boosted by the return of Franklin, Josh Kennedy (hamstring), Ben McGlynn (calf) and Mike Pyke (illness).

Fremantle lost to the Swans by 17 points at the SCG in round five.

But Lyon said travelling to Sydney for an away qualifying final would hold no fears for his side, especially after Fremantle pulled off a shock win over Geelong at Simonds Stadium in week one of the finals last year.

The Dockers would have slipped to fifth had they lost to Port Adelaide, and Lyon was pleased with how his players handled the pressure.

"You're King or Dunce really, aren't you," Lyon said.

"We understood the pressures and we handled them really well, so from that aspect it was really pleasing for us."

But Lyon was left scratching his head after his team ran out of substitutions against the Power.

Fremantle reached their 120 limit with several minutes remaining in the match, meaning key ball winners Lachie Neale and Michael Barlow were left stranded on the bench, along with ruckman Zac Clarke.

The Power briefly threatened to steal victory after booting the last five goals of the match.

The West Australian

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