Sunday’s clash with the Brisbane Lions at Perth Stadium is a make-or-break game for the Fremantle Dockers, according to football analysts.
After a promising start in the first three rounds, the Dockers have lost four of their last six games, and face two quality opponents before the round 12 bye.
AFL.com.au analyst Travis King said Fremantle’s forward line had under-delivered.
“Things haven’t quite panned out the way we expected with their forward line, and they’ve been killed a little bit with their ball use going inside fifty which hasn’t helped,” he said.
With Matthew Taberner being ruled out for the rest of the season because of a stress fracture in his foot, the Dockers’ forward line options have taken another hit.
King said Fremantle could have fielded their best team in recent memory if everyone was able to stay healthy,
“When they’ve got their full list on the park, they are capable of pushing finals, it’s just how much these injuries are going to have an impact on them,” he said.
Big-name forwards Rory Lobb and Jesse Hogan were brought in for the 2019 season, which lifted the team’s expectations of success.
Football analyst Steve Butler said he believed Fremantle should keep the faith and aim for a finals berth.
“I think they need to keep going full tilt because they’ve got those new players on board, so they need to keep finding that synergy,” he said.
“There’s still a bit to like in the back end of the season, it’s still a full-tilt-ahead, right-to- the-finish-line for me.”
Another caveat for the Dockers is the contract of head coach Ross Lyon, which concludes at the end of the 2020 season.
King said Lyon needed to show the club was progressing.
“He’s been at the club for I think eight years now, and he’s been given the time to go through this rebuild. He needs to get results, he’s under the pump,” he said.
“If they fall away at this time of the year, like they have in the past, there will be a lot of pressure on the hierarchy of the club, so I expect they will try and be competitive for as long as possible,” he said.
The Dockers will take on the Brisbane Lions at Perth Stadium on Sunday at 3.20pm WA time.