Fremantle coach Mark Harvey says his young players will benefit from Friday night’s finals-type clash with Carlton as they prepare for the club’s first September campaign since 2006.

Fremantle secured a home elimination final with a thrilling six-point win over the Blues at Subiaco Oval, with Hawthorn shaping as its likely opponent next Saturday.

Harvey said the group’s many young players, who played key roles on Friday night, would enter next week’s do-or-die final with a better understanding of what they will come up against.

“Particularly for the 10 first to second year players that we had play tonight, if they’re lucky enough to play next week, well we need to see how they handle a finals game,” Harvey said after the match.

“There was a lot in it and [it was] very taxing. The benefit of playing on a Friday night is that we probably have the opportunity to have an eight-day break.

“It’s terrific for them to experience that type of game leading into a home final, and WA hasn’t had a home final for three years, so we’d like all of WA and Perth to get behind us next week.”

Harvey said it was a credit to the entire club to notch 13 wins in a season that many expected to be another development campaign.

“I just think it’s really pleasing for the club and supporters that have hung in there over the last couple of years whilst we’ve been developing,” the coach said.

“More importantly for the team to be able to experience and see what this game’s all about at this level.

“Knowing you can do it here, where at the start of the year no one would have given us any chance or opportunity to be in this position.

“You never really know in this competition.”

Fremantle welcomed back 11 players ahead of Friday night’s win, with goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne a late inclusion, and Harvey said the club had always felt justified in its move to rest seven key players last week.

Aaron Sandilands returned from a foot injury to star with 40 hit-outs and 17 contested possessions, while Ballantyne, Chris Mayne and Paul Hasleby also returned from injury.

“We always believed we were doing the right thing,” Harvey said of the Hawthorn game.

“We’ve had our injury toll and we’re getting some players back. We obviously haven’t got (Chris) Tarrant or (Michael) Barlow, but the rest of them are thereabouts [or] back and playing.

“We have to make sure they’ve had enough football in them to rise to the occasion of playing in a final.”

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