Fremantle will have to do it tough if they want to go one better than last year, after losing their qualifying final in Sydney.
Sydney has beaten Fremantle by 24 points at the Olympic stadium to secure a home preliminary final.
Sydney was on top for most of the day, but the Swans had to withstand a late charge from the Dockers in the final quarter before prevailing by 12.11 (83) to 10.9 (69) at the Olympic stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Swans midfielder Daniel Hannebery, who returned in round 23 after six weeks out from an ankle syndesmosis injury, had 27 disposals and six tackles in a strong display.
He told Grandstand the home side was relieved to have got the win against the side that smashed the Swans in last year’s preliminary final in Perth.
“It was a really tough game and it was great to have a really strong four quarter effort against what we think is one of the best sides in the comp,” Hannebery said.
“Finals footy goes up another notch in contested footy … we knew we had to match it with (the Dockers) there and to get on top would go a long way to us winning the game.”
Fremantle went into the game understrength in defence, and the visitors pushed an extra man back to try to negate Sydney’s tall forward line. Hannebery said the Swans were frustrated they did not take their chances in the first half, even against the extra man.
“We were probably a bit stiff in the first half not to be a few more goals in front,” he said.
“In the end I think we had enough inside 50s, enough ball in there for the forwards to get on top.”
The Swans missed some early chances before settling down and holding a three-point lead at quarter-time.
A goal to Matthew Pavlich put the visitors in front early in the second term, but Sydney kicked two goals to one in the remainder of a tight quarter to lead by five points at the main change.
The Swans made their move in the third quarter, booting four goals to one to take a seemingly-unassailable 22-point lead at three-quarter time.
Swans answer Dockers’ challenge in final term
But a goal to Cameron Sutcliffe got Ross Lyon’s men off to a good start in the final term, and when Michael Walters paddled the ball on to Matthew Pavlich in the forward pocket and he snapped truly a minute later, the gap was down to two goals.
Lance Franklin then brought the crowd to its feet, drilling the ball home from more than 60 metres out to restore an 18-point buffer for the home side, then kicking another one from 50 to leave the Swans on the verge of victory.
A goal to David Mundy was answered by a major for Mike Pyke, but the Dockers kept coming with a goal to Mike Pyke near time on.
It proved to be the Dockers’ final goal of the match, however, and the Swans sealed the win with a late score to Hannebery.
Pavlich kicked four goals for the Dockers, while Franklin and on-baller Ben McGlynn booted three for the Swans.
However the win was soured by a hamstring injury to defender Nick Malceski, which could end his finals campaign.
Sydney now has the week off, followed by a home preliminary final on Friday week at the same venue against either Geelong or the winner of the elimination final between North Melbourne and Essendon.