Fremantle forward Sam Switkowski says he is confident the Dockers can overcome the slow starts that have been plaguing them this season and come out firing when they take on Collingwood at the MCG in Saturday night’s AFL semi-final.
- The Dockers say they will “embrace the noise” at the MCG on Saturday night
- At stake is a trip to Sydney to face the Swans in a preliminary final
- Sam Switkowski says Fremantle’s win over the Dogs delivered a big boost
Fremantle kicked just one point in the first quarter of Saturday night’s elimination final against the Western Bulldogs and did not kick a goal until the 20-minute mark of the second term.
They eventually clawed back a 41-point deficit to beat the Dogs by 13 points in front of a club-record crowd of 58,982 fans at Perth Stadium.
It was a similar story in their round 23 clash with the GWS Giants, when the Dockers had to come back from 31 points down after another sluggish start.
Switkowski was uncertain why Fremantle did not execute early and was slow out of the blocks.
“Credit to the Bulldogs, they came out really strong early, they hit us hard with their pressure and contest and it took us a little bit of time to match it,” he said.
“I think we fumbled it a bit early and our basics were a bit off. What you put that down to, I’m not sure.
“But we have a really strong belief in our team that we can grind away and get ourselves back in the game and we did that.”
Freo win builds finals experience
Much was made of Fremantle’s inexperience heading into the finals, the club’s first campaign in seven years.
Just four players in the side that played against the Dogs had previously featured in a final, but Switkowski said it was no longer an issue.
“I think we’ll be better off from our experience last weekend with that sort of atmosphere and finals intensity, that we know what to expect this week … nothing special that we need to change but getting the basics right and making sure that we’re on from the start,” he said.
“Certainly [Saturday’s match was] the loudest game I’ve ever played in front of and it really affects you out there.
“You can’t hear the umpires, you can’t hear teammates from 10 metres away, so that’s really important to experience [that] and momentum swings, being down by 40 points and then getting a few goals on the board quickly. It’s all good experience.
“So we’ll have a bigger crowd again this week at the MCG and we’ll be better for it.”
Dockers ready for Magpie army
Switkowski was also not troubled by the fact the majority of the crowd would be one-eyed Magpies supporters.
“I think we just need to stay really connected as a unit and as a team out there,” he said.
“We need to be loud and bring the energy ourselves and at the same time embrace the noise — and it might be against us, but we can use that as motivation.
“And yeah, I know Collingwood. I was a Collingwood fan growing up so I know that they’re pretty loud … it’s going to be hostile, but I’m pretty excited for it.”
Fremantle has an enviable record in away games this year, recording seven wins including its only match at the MCG, and also boasts a near fully-fit squad with a number of players vying for a recall.
But captain and two-time Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe is not among them as he recovers from a hamstring injury
“I’m really flat for him, it’s super disappointing,” Switkowski said.
“He would love to be out there. He’s got so much finals experience. He’s our skipper, he’s our best leader, so yeah, really flat for him.
“[But] I’ve been really impressed with how he’s been around the club [and] really positive, getting around the guys sharing his experiences.
“I think he sat in the box on the weekend, so he’s supporting the coaches as well. And yeah, footy can be a brutal industry sometimes and guys are unlucky to miss with injury, but I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
Source: AFL NEWS ABC