AFL Round 11 Preview: Friday Night Lights For Freo, Harley Reid Show Hits Adelaide

AFL Round 11 Preview

AFL Round 11 Preview: Friday Night Lights For Freo, Harley Reid Show Hits Adelaide

AFL Round 11 Preview
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If this round produces anything close to what we witnessed last week, footy fans will be rapt. 

We saw the most heartbreaking loss in recent memory, as Port Adelaide kicked a winning goal with just two seconds left to complete a 42-point comeback against Hawthorn.

Controversy struck the MCG with Izak Rankine pinged for ‘running too far’ in the final stages of Adelaide’s four-point loss to Collingwood. 

Sydney solidified itself as the top team in the competition with a big win over Carlton, while Richmond and St Kilda invited more pressure and scrutiny with poor losses. 

The West Australian teams made their fans smile with important victories. 

And North Melbourne still hasn’t won a game.

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Games to Watch

Western Bulldogs vs. Sydney (Marvel Stadium, Thursday Night)

Just a couple of weeks ago Luke Beveridge was the coach most likely to be sacked.

All of a sudden, his side has produced back-to-back wins, over Richmond and GWS, and pressure has eased.

The 91-point win against the Tigers was impressive but expected. Although the five-goal upset victory over the Giants sent a message to the critics. 

The Dogs are now just a game outside the eight, and face the best side in the competition to test just how good they really are this week.

A win against the Swans, and nobody will be able to question Bevo’s coaching … at least for a while. 

Despite having to travel to Melbourne, Sydney doesn’t look at all likely to drop this game. 

The Swans are flying, six points clear on top of the ladder. The 52-point win over Carlton last week was brilliant and meant the club has had its best start to a season since 1945. 

The last time these two sides met, Sydney got over the line by two points. This one could be another ripper. 

Prediction

The Dogs have been impressive over the last couple of weeks, with key players in top form. But there’s no reason to tip against Sydney, who are clearly now the best side in the competition.

Swans by 20 points.

Carlton vs. Gold Coast (Marvel Stadium, Saturday Afternoon)

Carlton and its fans felt like they were on top of the world after a 4-0 start to the season. Even at 5-1 about a month ago, things were running smoothly. 

The team is now 6-4 and in trouble in 10th place on the ladder. 

The next month of footy could decide its fate this season, all starting with a danger game against Gold Coast this week. They then face the Power in Adelaide, Essendon and Geelong. 

The Blues have injuries, although Michael Voss refused to use that as an excuse for his team’s 52-point loss to Sydney last week. The defeat was Carlton’s third in four weeks, meaning the only acceptable result against Suns is a win.

The supporters will be slightly confident too, after it was a home game against Gold Coast last year that started the Blues’ extraordinary run to finals. 

The Suns aren’t going to be an easy opposition this time around though, coming off a huge 64-point win over Geelong last Thursday night in Darwin. 

Gold Coast is sitting inside the top eight after hitting some good form in recent weeks. Coach Damien Hardwick is keen to see the side play finals for the first time, so a win interstate against a decent side is crucial for building belief.

Both teams will be throwing everything at this one. 

Prediction

This is a ‘must-win’ game for Carlton, so you’d expect them to get the job done. They’ve also beaten Gold Coast the last two times they’ve played. A win to the Suns wouldn’t be a shock, but the Blues at home should get the four points.

Carlton by 10 points

Geelong vs. GWS (GMHBA Stadium, Saturday)

Speaking of ‘must-win games’, it doesn’t get much bigger than this for either side here. 

Geelong is on the decline after spending the majority of the season in the top two spots on the ladder. They still sit third, but have lost their past three games, and last week’s 64-point defeat to the Suns was embarrassing. 

The Cats were smashed in the midfield, and Chris Scott’s tactic of resting key players is starting to be questioned. 

This is a great opportunity to get back on track with a big win in front of the home fans, with some tough games coming up. 

GWS are equally as concerned with their drop off in form though. They started the season 5-0 and were branded a ‘premiership contender’ early on. 

Since then, the Giants have dropped four of its past five games, including a shock five-goal loss to the Bulldogs last week. 

GWS hates the Dogs, yet showed little aggression and fight in the defeat. It was extremely concerning for fans and coach Adam Kingsley, who will be expecting his team to bounce back with effort this week. 

The side sits in sixth place on the ladder, although can easily slide out in coming weeks with the evenness of the competition and games against Port Adelaide and Sydney not far away. 

The good news for the Giants, is they’ve won the last three games against the Cats at GMHBA Stadium, so confidence won’t be an issue. 

Prediction

The recent history at the stadium will please the Giants, but it’s still a tough trip to Geelong regardless. Both teams started the season well but have dropped off over the past few weeks, so it’s really hard to call. The Cats have been playing better for longer though, and probably get over the line.

Geelong by 5 points

Fremantle Dockers

Last Week

It wasn’t the prettiest game of football, but the Dockers fans would be delighted with the important win away from home.

Freo beat St Kilda by 17 points at Marvel Stadium in a low-scoring affair, but the winning margin should have been a lot greater. 

Once again, the Dockers were inaccurate in front of goal, kicking 9.18 (72) to the Saints’ 8.7 (55). 

The side was defensively sound once again, and dominated clearances. 

St Kilda did look like the better side, but Freo lifted the tempo in the second half to eventually kick away to a decent victory. 

“I thought the second half we were pretty dominant, lots of territory and created lots of opportunities,” Justin Longmuir said post game. 

It means the Dockers now sit ninth on the ladder, equal points with GWS in sixth position. 

This Week

Fremantle faces Collingwood this week at Optus Stadium on Friday night, in what is a huge test for Justin Longmuir’s side. 

The Pies are unbeaten since Round 2 and sit fifth on the ladder, just four points away from second place. 

They defeated Adelaide by just four points last week, after dominating the game up until the final term, but have shown glimpses of their best footy over the past month. 

To make matters worse for Freo, the Dockers have lost their past three games against Collingwood. 

It will be a tough task, but one we’re sure Justin Longmuir will be looking forward to.

Talking Points

Just win

The biggest focus for Freo and its fans this week is simply on getting the win.

As it stands, the Dockers have not beaten a team inside the top eight this season, so there are still a heap of question marks over the side’s ability. 

A win against a contender in Collingwood would be a huge confidence boost for the team and signal to the competition that they’re ready to contend in 2024. 

A loss and it will be more of the same – labelled flat-track bullies who only win the games they probably should. 

This should be treated as a statement game for Fremantle. 

To tag, or not to tag? 

Will Fremantle tag Nick Daicos?

“Still working through that,” Justin Longmuir said during the week when asked the question.

“(But) we can’t let him run around and get 40 possessions and dominate the game, so we need to make sure we quell his influence.”

And that’s right. If they want to win, they’ll have to certainly quell his influence. 

Last week, in Collingwood’s win over Adelaide, Daicos had 40 touches, 22 contested possessions, six tackles and a career-high 14 clearances. 

In a four-point loss for the Crows, stopping Daicos could have been the difference. Especially when you consider it was Daicos who kicked the ball to Jordan De Goey for the winning goal with less than two minutes left.

The Crows didn’t tag him, and they lost. 

You’d expect Longmuir to have some sort of plan to limit his influence.

Let’s see what he does. 

Kick it straight! 

We’ve spoken about it before, but Freo’s inaccuracy has been a big problem. And if they want to beat a top-eight side, they’ll need to fix it up.

Over the past two weeks, the Dockers have had the most shots in the competition but managed just 13 goals, and a whopping 33 behinds.

 “It’s frustrating for the players at times when that happens,” Longmuir said post game.

“We’ll just get to work on our execution, it’s all you can do.”

The coach says they’ve worked on their goalkicking this week, and was also quick to point out that the focus should be on the positive aspect of being able to create so many goal-scoring opportunities. 

Freo took 16 marks inside 50 last week and has continued to put themselves in scoring positions. 

If they can finish off their chances this week, a win is a real possibility. 

Prediction

Fremantle will consider themselves a real chance this week, but it’s hard to look past Collingwood. The Pies are playing great football and have a good record against the Dockers.

Should be a tough and tight battle, but the away team will probably get it done.

Collingwood by 5 points

West Coast Eagles

Last Week

This was bloody huge. 

The Eagles’ revival continued with an incredible 35-point upset win over Melbourne at Optus Stadium. 

West Coast were tougher in the contest and played with a flare and confidence we hadn’t seen in years. 

Harley Reid was, of course, central to it all, leading from the middle, as well as slotting what is probably going to end up as goal of the year. 

Jake Waterman returned with a brilliant five-goal performance, and their even spread of contributors, as well as the physical, high-pressure approach, meant they were able to respond every time Melbourne looked like getting on top.

The supporters couldn’t have been more pleased by what they saw out there. 

It’s now three wins for the season, as the Eagles sit in 16th place on the ladder. 

This Week

The Eagles will make a trip to Adelaide this Sunday to face the Crows in a tough twilight tussle. 

The Crows were heartbroken in that controversial four-point loss to Collingwood last week, and will be keen to get straight back on the winners’ list to keep their season alive. 

Adelaide has been in decent form over the past month, but a draw to Brisbane and a close defeat to Collingwood means they haven’t won since Round 8. 

They’ve won just three games for the season and will need to put together a remarkable run if they want to achieve their objective of playing finals. 

Matthew Nicks’ and his coaching staff would have pencilled this in as a ‘must win’ game, so you can expect the side to throw everything they’ve got at the Eagles.

It should be an intense clash.  

Talking Points

King Harley 

How can you go past this man? 

Just when you thought the 19-year-old couldn’t produce anything better than what he’d already shown in his first year of AFL, he goes and does this. 

He finished the game last week with 21 disposals, seven clearances and two goals (which included that goal of the year nomination), but it was his confidence that has gone to the next level. 

He broke tackles, fended off the likes of Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca and sent another message to the AFL world – he’s clearly the best first-year player we’ve seen. 

All eyes are on Harley Reid, whether you like it or not. 

When he performs at his best, the Eagles believe they can win. 

“We want to keep him here as long as we can,” Adam Simpson said post game, when asked about Reid. 

You can say that again. 

Coleman counting 

Yes, yet another Eagle that has been spoken about at length this season. But everyone is watching Jake Waterman to see if he can kick his way to a Coleman Medal.

Waterman returned against Melbourne last week, after missing a game through concussion protocols, kicking five goals to put himself equal-first in the Coleman-Medal race with 29 majors for the year. 

The league is finally starting to take notice, after the supporters have witnessed him grow into one of the most dominant forwards in the AFL.  

He’s passed his career-best goal kicking total after just 10 rounds, and if he keeps going at this pace, there’s no reason the 26-year-old can’t soon become one of the greats.

“I was a big ‘Lloydy’ (Matthew Lloyd) fan, Jonathan Brown,” Waterman said this week when asked about his idols growing up.

 “I was a big Port supporter growing up so (Warren) Tredrea.”

The key forward wouldn’t have much love for the Crows, growing up a Power supporter, so you wouldn’t expect him to go easy on them this week. 

He and the fans will be hoping he kicks another bag.

Defensive Duties 

We’ve spoken a lot about the men in the middle of the ground and up forward, but the boys down back are equally as important. 

Jeremy McGovern highlighted that last week with his influence down back. The courageous backman took eight marks, had 23 disposals and sliced through Melbourne with his expert kicking. 

Then there was Tom Barrass, who took eight marks of his own, while Liam Duggan and Brady Hough were strong in limiting scoring opportunities for the Dees. 

Adelaide has strong forwards in Darcy Fogarty and Taylor Walker, along with others, but if the Eagles’ defence can stand tall once again, they’ll have a big chance of staying in the contest. 

Prediction

You wouldn’t be surprised with a West Coast win here, after what they did to Melbourne, but you’d have to tip Adelaide at home.

Crows by 18 points.

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