AFL Round 10 Preview: Freo Set To Bounce Back, Big Ins For West Coast

AFL Round 10 Preview

AFL Round 10 Preview: Freo Set To Bounce Back, Big Ins For West Coast

AFL Round 10 Preview
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Round 9 had it all.

There were close finishes, blowouts, controversies and even a draw. Emotions ran high for Fremantle and GWS, as a former teammate passed away just hours before their respective games, while pressure mounted on Richmond and St Kilda, but eased for the Bulldogs. 

Essendon made a statement to the competition by solidifying a spot inside the top four, Sydney remains in first place on the ladder, a game clear of Geelong, and North Melbourne is still winless. 

Will Round 10 change the narrative? We’ll soon find out. 

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Games To Watch In Round 10

Sydney vs. Carlton (SCG, Friday Night) 

The word ‘blockbuster’ gets thrown around too often. But it’s appropriate here. 

The Swans are the most “complete” side in the competition, according to Matthew Lloyd. And who could argue with him? 

They sit four points ahead of Geelong on top of the ladder, after a 48 point thumping of Fremantle last Friday night, and look like the real deal this season. 

Having lost just one game for the entire campaign so far – a shock loss to Richmond at the MCG in Round 3 – they’re clearly now the team to beat. 

Sydney kept Fremantle to just four goals for the game last round, showing their defensive power once again. And while their slick ball movement has been a highlight this year, they found different ways to generate scores in the “slippery and humid” conditions at Optus Stadium.

“We were able to surge a bit and … score off dirty ball into our forward line,” coach John Longmire said post game. 

It’s unclear what the weather will be like this Friday night at the MCG, but Sydney has proven it won’t really matter. 

Carlton won in the wet last week, but by only a single point after leading by 38 seven minutes into the third quarter. The Blues, remarkably, kicked five goals straight in the first term, leaving Melbourne scoreless at quarter time. 

The Dees came back with a vengeance, but Michael Voss’ men showed maturity to hold on for the victory. 

“We needed to get the four points, and we walk away with that against a very, very good side,” Voss said post game. 

And they certainly did need it too, after consecutive losses to Geelong and Collingwood in previous weeks. 

The Blues currently sit in seventh place with six wins and three losses, and have arguably their biggest test of the season against Sydney. 

A heap to play for for both sides. 

Prediction

Sydney is playing terrific football and looks too good to tip against. Carlton did beat them in an Elimination final at the MCG last time the two sides met, but the Swans have defeated Carlton at the SCG the last two times they’ve played at the venue.

Sydney by 15 points

GWS vs. Western Bulldogs (ENGIE Stadium, Saturday Afternoon)

These two sides don’t like each other, so we know it’s going to be another hot contest on Saturday afternoon. 

After their first six games of the season, the Giants were cruising, undefeated and confident. All of a sudden, they’ve lost three games, to Carlton, Sydney and Essendon, and scored just 69 and 62 points respectively, over the past two weeks – their two lowest totals of the season.

GWS lost to Essendon last week by 20 points, in one of their most disappointing performances of the season. 

“As a collective, the last few weeks we’ve all been a bit down and that’s something we want to rectify,” captain Toby Greene said post-game. 

They’ll be hopeful of rectifying it against the Bulldogs this week, despite Luke Beveridge’s men recording their biggest win of the season last round. 

The Dogs slaughtered the Tigers by 91 points at the MCG, bouncing back from a week of media criticism on Beveridge. While it was an impressive victory, Richmond was woeful, and it hasn’t changed much of the opinion around the team. 

The side has been up and down this year, sitting 11th on the ladder with four wins and five losses. Most pundits believe the team should be further up the ladder with the list they have, so a win against the Giants would ease the pressure on the players and coach. 

I’m really proud with the way we got through last week… it was more of a challenging week for me; you have to get it right, but I lent on a lot of people,” Beveridge said this week.

This week will be a whole lot easier in terms of pressure, but the game will be a lot more challenging.

Let’s see how the side reacts this time around. 

Prediction

GWS will be keen to bounce back after that surprise loss to Essendon, and there’s no better side to do it against than their rivals. The Dogs played well last week, but it wasn’t hard against the Tigers. The Giants should be too good here at home.

GWS by 20 points 

Fremantle Dockers

Last Week

It was an emotional night for Fremantle, as news of former teammate Cam McCarthy’s death broke just hours before the first bounce. 

It was clear the news affected the side, with tears in the eyes of club leaders during the moment of silence ahead of the match.

“I was really proud of the way they were able to go out and compete tonight given the difficulties of the last 24 hours,” coach Justin Longmuir said post game.

“We had players that were close to not playing.”

Despite the difficulties, the Dockers were competitive against the Swans, winning clearances and centre clearances and having just five fewer contested possessions. It was simply sloppy skills and inaccurate kicking at goal (4.15) that led to the loss.

Sydney, on the other hand, was incredibly accurate, kicking 10 goals straight before their first behind in the third term.

The Swans ended with a 48-point win in a night to forget for Freo. 

This Week

The Dockers play St Kilda this week at Marvel Stadium. 

It won’t be an easy game, but Freo should feel confident they can cause an upset here. 

St Kilda is under pressure after losing to Hawthorn by five points last week, and their only win since Round 4 coming against North Melbourne.

The Saints had periods of dominance in the game against the Hawks, but couldn’t put it on the scoreboard. They kicked just one goal in the third term after getting it inside 50 18 times. 

They’ll have to be more critical if they want to defeat the Dockers this week, who we know are usually defensively solid. 

St Kilda is 14th on the ladder with just three wins and six losses this season and the criticism is coming for coach Ross Lyon. 

The last time these two sides met ended in a 15-point win to St Kilda at Marvel Stadium in Round 1 last year. But a lot has happened since. 

Huge opportunity for both sides. 

Talking Points

Frustrating Freo 

Despite the fact that most players may not have had their heads completely in the game, due to the passing of a former teammate, the wayward kicking at goal last week was incredibly frustrating for fans. 

They really can’t afford to repeat a similar effort this week if they want the win. 

The Dockers slotted just four goals and 15 behinds for the game. The Swans, on the other hand, couldn’t miss. At one stage in the second half, Fremantle had 1.10 on the board, while Sydney had a score of 10.1.

Kicks straight in front went sideways, players didn’t want to take shots, and it was obvious the pressure was mounting as the night went on. 

Having just one goal on the board at half-time isn’t good enough, so all eyes will be on the Dockers to see if they can kick straight under the roof at Marvel. 

 Sharp shooter

Jeremy Sharp played arguably his best game for Freo at the weekend, picking up 28 possessions, 10 marks and four inside 50s. 

He also kicked two consecutive classy goals in the fourth quarter, after reading the play to find himself in dangerous space. 

Sharp has been impressive this season on the wing for Freo, averaging 18 disposals while contributing with speed and accuracy. 

A day-one signing in the pre-season supplemental selection period, after being delisted by Gold Coast, the 22-year-old has been a consistent threat for opposition teams. 

The likes of Caleb Serong, Nat Fyfe and Andrew Brayshaw, Luke Ryan and Alex Pearce are often highlighted, but it’s the other contributors like Sharp that can help the Dockers achieve their objectives in 2024. 

Let’s see if he can back it up this week. 

Date for Darcy 

Ruckman Sean Darcy is expected to return from a calf injury this week, after missing against the Swans.

Justin Longmuir admitted Darcy may have played if they had one more day’s rest, but the club chose the conservative approach. 

It’s an important inclusion too, with the ruck partnership with Luke Jackson sure to be crucial this week. 

They’ll be up against Rowan Marshall, who won the Silk-Miller Memorial Medal for the player judged best afield in last week’s loss to Hawthorn. 

Marshall had 35 hit-outs, 28 disposals (23 contested; a career-best), 12 clearances and 11 tackles to keep St Kilda in the game. 

He’s a dangerous player that the Dockers must be aware of this week. So having two fit ruckmen to work Marshall over will help Freo’s chances. 

It’s still up for debate whether the one-ruckman approach for the Dockers is the best way forward, although having Darcy in and out of the side through injury has enabled them to test both methods consistently. 

It will be an intriguing watch this weekend. 

Prediction

Fremantle is good enough to get the job done here. If they can defend well, like they have for most of the season, they’ll win.

Fremantle by 12 points

West Coast Eagles

Last Week

West Coast was without some of their key stars last week, and it showed.

They were smashed in the middle of the ground, especially through centre clearances, allowing Collingwood to pile on the inside 50s and goals. 

It led to a 66 point loss to the Magpies, with the Eagles giving up 28 scoring shots, while generating just 12 of their own. 

In fact, it took 50 minutes between West Coast’s third and fourth goal of the game, although the absence of goal-kicking gun Jake Waterman made it hard to find targets inside the arc. 

West Coast did improve in the second half, kicking two goals to Collingwood’s four, but the damage was already done. 

The 11-goal loss was the Eagles’ seventh for the season.

This Week

West Coast will host Melbourne at Optus Stadium on Sunday. 

The Demons will be keen to bounce back from a heartbreaking one-point loss to Carlton last week, after trailing by 38 points during the third quarter. 

Melbourne had a shocking start to the game, but through a heroic effort from Christian Petracca (five goals) and skipper Max Gawn, they almost pulled off an unbelievable comeback. 

Coach Simon Goodwin would be livid at the poor opening to the game, allowing Carlton to kick the first six goals of the contest, and he’ll be sure to focus on a fast start against West Coast. 

The Demons are fourth on the ladder with six wins and three losses, and will have the objective of solidifying a top four spot as they fight for the flag. 

The last four times these sides have met has been at Optus Stadium, with Melbourne winning the past three. The last time the Eagles beat the Demons was in Round 1, 2020. 

Talking Points

Back to work 

We say it almost every week, but West Coast need to focus on the contest.

They perform their best footy when they are playing a hard, contested game and matching the opposition in the middle of the ground. 

On Sunday, Collingwood won the contested possession count by 31, which resulted in a 59-34 inside 50 advantage.

At times the Pies seemed like they were just walking out of the centre square, despite throwing some younger players in there. 

“Obviously (we got) touched up around the ball, Tim Kelly said post game.

“Probably outworked once the ball left the area. Not good enough, it’s as simple as I can put it … some of the areas of the game that we’ve actually been really good at, we were very poor.

“They taught us many lessons.”

Those lessons happened so quickly in the first half, which really broke the game open. 

A fast start like that from Melbourne this week, and things could turn ugly. 

Adam Simpson needs to get his men to get back to work in the middle of the ground and allow his side to stay in the game. 

Petracca watch 

It’s not often we focus on the opposition, but eyes must be on Christian Petracca this week. 

He was like a man possessed against Carlton, kicking five goals, picking up 21 disposals, laying seven tackles and almost single-handedly keeping Melbourne in the game. 

If Petracca gets on the loose again, it’s going to be hard for the Eagles to stop him. Last time the two sides met he had 29 possessions and kicked three goals. 

Someone should go to him to curtail his influence. 

It will be interesting to see if West Coast’s own bull, Harley Reid, can make his own statement this week.

Look who’s back

Jeremy McGovern, Jake Waterman and Elliot Yeo are all a good chance to return this week. 

Supporters will be hoping they do too, as their absence was truly felt in the loss to Collingwood. 

Waterman and Yeo were especially missed, with both men in the form of their careers before suffering injuries.  

With contested ball and goal kicking a crucial part of being in the contest against Melbourne, the dangerous duo will play a massive part this week. 

Prediction

Melbourne is just too good this season. Would love to see the Eagles put up a good fight, but the Demons need to win this after last week’s disappointing loss.

Melbourne by 30 points 

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