COLLINGWOOD survived a major scare from an emotion-charged Fremantle, locked in a top-four spot and kept hopes of hosting a qualifying final alive with a nailbiting nine-point victory at Optus Stadium on Saturday.

Trailing the fired-up Dockers by 15 points midway through the second term and with scores level at the final change, the Magpies were staring at the prospect of a cutthroat elimination final.

But as they have done all season in the face of adversity, Nathan Buckley's injury-hit men found a way.

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Mature-age rookie Brody Mihocek was the hero, booting two clutch goals midway through the final term to put the Pies in front by four points.

Brennan Cox had the chance to wrestle back the lead for Freo with three minutes remaining but hooked his 50m set shot out on the full.

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Collingwood swept the ball forward and Josh Thomas to kick the sealer from a Nathan Wilson turnover with less than two minutes to play, sending the Pies supporters into raptures.

The Dockers will be kicking themselves after booting 1.5 in the final term and falling to a 11.10 (76) to 9.13 (67) defeat.

Collingwood finished the match in third but have put pressure on West Coast to knock over the Lions in Brisbane on Sunday, with a loss likely to send the second-placed Eagles tumbling into an away qualifying final.

Hawthorn could also leapfrog Collingwood and West Coast into second with victory against the Swans at the SCG on Saturday night.

But the Magpies have at least guaranteed themselves the double chance in finals after winning 15 games – their most since 2012.

They can expect reinforcements in September, and will likely need them after only beating one other finals-bound outfit, Melbourne, this season, but Buckley was confident they could do some damage.

"We think our best footy stacks up and we are not afraid of anyone we’re going to play," he said.

"It's either Richmond, Hawthorn or West Coast in the mix for our first final.

"We definitely won't be approaching that with anything but full confidence that we can get the job done.

"We have attacked and been aggressive and chased our best form, improved football, the opposition - all season. So we're not going to stop now."

Collingwood made hard work of seeing off the under-pressure Dockers, who were coming off one of the darkest days in club history at Geelong last round.

A response was expected following a 133-point humiliation and, despite a slow start, Fremantle lifted considerably for champion defender Michael Johnson's farewell game.

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Including last round's debacle, Fremantle had conceded 26 unanswered goals after Collingwood piled on three unanswered majors in the opening five minutes on Saturday.

But the home side clicked into gear and produced some of the best football played by a team in purple for months.

A five-goal burst before quarter-time – highlighted by Sam Switkowski's first goal and an audacious Matt Taberner soccer – turned the contest on its head.

The Dockers dominated the second term and were keeping the ball off the Pies, the No.1 possession team in the competition, but couldn't put the score on the board.

Steadying late goals from Scott Pendlebury and NAB AFL Rising Star favourite Jaidyn Stephenson reduced the margin to just three points at the long break.

The third quarter was an arm-wrestle and the Dockers looked good things when veteran Hayden Ballantyne ran into an open goal for his fourth major early in the final term, but the Pies stormed home for a crucial triumph.

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Midfield stars Steele Sidebottom (31 disposals) and Pendlebury (30, one goal) were influential all game, but especially when the contest was on the line. Mihocek finished with three majors.

Brodie Grundy (24 disposals, 34 hit-outs) had Freo youngster Sean Darcy's (35 hit-outs) measure around the ground but they fought an even battle in the ruck, with Freo just edging clearances (36-32).

Bradley Hill (35 disposals, 10 inside 50s) played his best game for the season for the Dockers, Taylin Duman (24) showed plenty in defence alongside Joel Hamling and Lachie Neale (34, one goal) rounded out an excellent campaign, but it wasn't enough to get Freo home.

Speaking after the game, coach Ross Lyon was pleased the Dockers dug in to send Johnson off with a fighting effort, on a day when retired defender Lee Spurr was also farewelled at the ground.

"I haven't thought about it in too much regard to last week, if you keep looking backwards it's not good but … I didn't think last week was typical of our year," Lyon said.

"When you've got retiring players, you want the effort to be commensurate with the esteem you hold them in.

"It's not about whether you win or lose, but we certainly ticked that box with our effort."

Fremantle: The Dockers seemed to get through unscathed.

Collingwood: Chris Mayne received treatment during the first quarter, but he returned before quarter-time. Jack Madgen was bleeding profusely from his head and came off for attention just before the opening change.  

The Pies will wait to see if they have to travel back to Perth for a qualifying final against West Coast, or play at the MCG – either as host or away – to Richmond or Hawthorn. The Dockers will head off for end of season reviews and Mad Monday with plenty to take from round 23 before a pivotal 2019 in the club's rebuild.

FREMANTLE             5.2   6.6   8.8   9.13 (67)
COLLINGWOOD       3.2   6.3   8.8   11.10 (76) 

Fremantle: Ballantyne 4, Fyfe, Mundy, Taberner, Neale, Switkowski
Collingwood: Mihocek 3, Stephenson 2, Pendlebury, Adams, Phillips, Thomas, Crisp, Cox 

Fremantle: Hamling, Neale, B.Hill, Duman, Langdon, Ballantyne
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Adams, Maynard, Grundy 

Fremantle: Nil
Collingwood: Hoskin-Elliott (knee)

Umpires: O'Gorman, Nicholls, Hay

Official crowd: 41,320 at Optus Stadium