The West

Dockers can stop Sydney double act
Alex Silvagni is expected to get the job on Lance Franklin or Kurt Tippett in Saturday’s qualifying final at ANZ Stadium because of injuries to Michael Johnson and Luke McPharlin. Picture: Daniel Carson/AFL Media

One-time Fremantle defender Antoni Grover has backed unheralded pair Alex Silvagni and Zac Dawson to counter towering Sydney forwards Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett in Saturday's qualifying final at ANZ Stadium.

The Dockers will be confronted with the Franklin and Tippett double act for the first time and will do it without All-Australian defenders Luke McPharlin (calf) and Michael Johnson (back).

Tippett has missed all three clashes with Fremantle since crossing from Adelaide at the end of 2012, while Franklin booted four goals in the Swans' 17-point round-five win at the SCG.

Veteran McPharlin has been sidelined for the past three weeks and is unlikely to return against Sydney.

Grover said he expected Silvagni (192cm and 93kg) and Dawson (197cm, 93kg) to stand Franklin (198cm, 102kg) and Tippett (201cm, 105kg), with Garrick Ibbotson (186cm, 85kg) an option to take Sam Reid (196cm, 95kg) or Adam Goodes (191cm, 100kg).

Grover also floated the possibility of developing forward Matt Taberner (198cm) or Chris Mayne (188cm) being sent to defence as cover.

"I am very confident in the team to cover Johnno and Luke's absence, if he doesn't play," Grover said.

"Dawson and Silvagni will go to Tippett and Franklin.

"I think either way it wouldn't matter. Ibbo is really quick and he's got that athleticism against a taller player, so I'd back him in."

Grover often gave away size to key forwards during his career and believed Silvagni and Dawson could overcome their physical disadvantages.

"What they do have on their side is they're both quick and they're both really competitive players," he said.

"I back their speed in against both of those guys.

"They are really competitive animals, so I don't doubt them for one minute, but it is also team defence.

"The way that Freo play, they'll get a lot of support from the midfield and their fellow defenders.

"At the end of the day it all starts in the middle of the ground and it's great to have (Nat) Fyfe back."

Silvagni has played just six games this season, and was rested from Saturday's eight-point win over Port Adelaide.

The 26-year-old did not play in the finals last year, but was monstered by Taylor Walker in Fremantle's loss to Adelaide in the second semifinal in 2012.

"I don't think he will be sitting around worrying about another performance against another team on another night two years ago," Grover said.

"I think that would be the furthest thing from his mind.

"I rate him really highly and hopefully moving forward he's going to have a big role to play.

"He has only got one pace and that's flat out."

The West Australian

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