FREMANTLE has the opportunity to break a six-year run outside the top eight if it focuses on "the process" after emerging from a difficult five weeks to grab eighth spot with three rounds to play.
The Dockers sit in the top eight at the latest stage of any season since their last September campaign in 2015 after a thrilling four-point win against back-to-back premier Richmond on Sunday.
Coach Justin Longmuir said ladder position did not mean anything to him at this stage, but the Dockers' finals chances were in their hands after jumping from 12th place to eighth.
"It (top eight) is great for our fans at this present time … but I'm more proud of the way we played. We got back to playing our footy," Longmuir said.
"We've probably been relying on too few and I don't think we carried anyone today.
"Everyone did their role and was committed to a really strong team performance.
That's what I worry about. I worry about the process and what will be in ladder positions will be.
"If we get the process right, we'll stay in the eight. If we don't, we won't."
The Dockers have back-to-back clashes at Optus Stadium against Brisbane and West Coast, with the round 22 Western Derby shaping as a blockbuster with finals implications. They finish the home-and-away season against St Kilda.
Longmuir said Sunday's win had meant a lot after a challenging period for the club.
"We've been through a lot. We've had four away games in those five weeks, we're in quarantine at the moment, we're short on staff," he said.
"I was really proud of the club, really proud of the playing group, proud of how they embraced the challenge and responded in that last quarter."
Longmuir was particularly proud of the young midfielders who stepped up in the absence of captain Nat Fyfe, with Andrew Brayshaw outstanding with a career-best 39 disposals.
"I just thought his last quarter oozed leadership," the coach said.
"He had a will to win, he never stopped trying, and that's not to take anything off anyone else."
DOCKERS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was left frustrated after a disappointing loss, with his team nine points clear late in the final term before back-to-back Fremantle goals.
The coach said he would wait until Tuesday to address the match with his team after a "long week" in quarantine.
"We will sit back and take a look at the game and take some time to digest what has happened," he said.
"We are still a mathematical chance so the ball is in our court, but we have to play a fair bit better than we did today."
Hardwick conceded the Tigers may have to change after losing six of their past seven games to slip from eighth to 11th.
"The game has changed, it's evolved and we have to change with it," he said.
"It's a been a fatiguing year. The challenge from club land and the AFL to get where we are at the moment is an incredible achievement.
"Sides are right on the edge. It's hard and fatiguing. We have to dig in. Like everyone else, we can see the finish line, we just have to keep pushing up that mountain and get where we need to go.
"It's going to be one hell of a finish, but it has been a long season."