After three big wins, are Ross Lyon’s Fremantle side on their way to tasting AFL finals action for the first time since 2015?

Shortly after controversially arriving at Fremantle in late 2011, Ross Lyon made his mark in the West. In his first full season in charge in 2012, Lyon led the Dockers to September action. He would do so for four consecutive finals series from 2012-15, including a famous grand final appearance in 2013. But since 2015, it’s all been downhill for (what was) an ageing Fremantle outfit. Personnel issues and a stodgy gameplan meant Freo tracked downhill fast. In fact, in the last three years, they’ve finished 16th, 14th and 14th. And the betting reflected as much before AFL season 2019. Lyon’s side started as $3.80 outsiders just to make the top eight with Palmerbet. But in shot time, that’s all changed. So how did we get here?

Up and down…then BANG

Freo started the 2019 AFL season inconsistently. Their good was very good (win over the Giants), but their poor was, well, pretty poor (loss to the Suns). Three consecutive losses from rounds 7-9 had Lyon’s team sitting 4-5 and still an outside chance for the finals. Their $3.80 pre-season price had only marginally shortened at that stage, to $3.30 with Palmerbet. But three straight wins since then has changed everything, including perceptions. They weren’t just standard victories. No, wins against Brisbane, Collingwood and Port Adelaide – all top eight AFL sides at the time of playing – has seen them into $1.62 to seal September action.

Not just making up the numbers

Not content to stop at just finishing in the top eight, some commentators think the Dockers are destined for even bigger things. After their efforts against Port Adelaide, Jonathan Brown believes they’ll be right in amongst the AFL top four. “I was really impressed seeing them live and first-hand,” Brown said on On the Couch. “They’ve had good away wins against GWS and Collingwood at the MCG. They’re the best last-quarter team in the competition, they’ve got a world-class midfield, I think Jesse Hogan’s getting back into form. There’s a lot of positives.”

The Dockers started the year as $12 top four hopes with Palmerbet but their aforementioned purple patch has seen them slash price that into $6.50. Perhaps most important is their run home. In their last 10 games, Freo play the eight bottom AFL sides. Brown said that’d good enough for him: “I reckon we’ve got enough data now halfway through the season to go they should finish top four, or certainly knocking on the door.” Among all his comments, however, none will annoy their neighbours than this:

They face Melbourne this week at the MCG – a ground they recently knocked off Collingwood at. The Dockers start at $1.90 with Palmerbet.

Captain fantastic

A significant reason why Freo have returned to one of the AFL’s better sides is down to the form of captain Nat Fyfe. The 2015 Brownlow medalist is back to his brilliant best this season, averaging 30 disposals a game. Fyfe started the season as a $7 equal favourite with Palmerbet (alongside Patrick Cripps and Dustin Martin). His strong form has kept him around that price, shortening slightly into $6, equal with Patrick Dangerfield and Lachie Neale, and behind Tim Kelly ($4.75) and favourite Cripps at $4.