AFL Round 16 Preview: A Tough Test For The Dockers

AFL Round 16 Preview: A Tough Test For The Dockers

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The final week of the mid-season byes are finally over with all teams now having played 14 games. It’s left the ladder in an incredibly tight position, as teams from third to 10th are separated by just eight points. 

We’re back to nine games over the weekend, and how the results will fall is anyone’s guess. 

We’ll have a crack though. 

Here’s what to expect. 

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Games To Watch: 

Brisbane vs. Melbourne  (GABBA, Friday Night) 

It’s ninth (Demons) taking on 10th (Lions), but the form of these two sides couldn’t be much more different.

The Lions are looking for four straight wins as they continue their fight up the ladder after a shocking start to the season, while the Dees suffered two huge defeats before barely getting over the line against last-placed North Melbourne by three points last week. 

It’s one to watch for a few different reasons, but the main storylines ahead of this one are; is Brisbane really a premiership threat? And is Melbourne’s season really over? 

The result of this game should provide answers to those questions.

This will be the second time the two sides have met this year, with Brisbane defeating Melbourne by 22 points at the MCG in Round 5.

PREDICTION: Melbourne has injury worries and their form hasn’t been good. It’s really difficult to see them winning at a venue Brisbane has won their past three games at. Lions should win comfortably. Brisbane by 30 points

Geelong vs. Essendon (MCG, Saturday Night)

It’s all to play for on Saturday night, as these two huge clubs have a chance to make a proper statement in primetime. 

The Cats are struggling after winning their first seven games of the season, but have now lost six of their past seven, with a defeat to the Bombers likely to push them outside the top eight. 

Geelong were embarrassed against Carlton last week in the 63-point loss and desperately need a win here to give the players and fans some belief. 

Essendon is sitting nicely in third place after a comfortable five-goal win over West Coast last week, and a victory over the Cats would secure a top-four spot for the time being, which is crucial with so many teams currently nipping at their heels.

While the form-differential for both clubs is substantial, this will not be a walkover. 

Geelong has actually won the past six matches between the two sides by an average margin of 50 points. 

PREDICTION: Essendon should win, but a win to Geelong wouldn’t be a surprise. It will likely be tough and tight. Bombers by 5 points

Fremantle Preview:

Last Week:

Fremantle went a long way in regaining some confidence by defeating Gold Coast by 20 points at Optus Stadium last week. 

After a terrible 63-point defeat to the Bulldogs the previous week, the victory was well needed and brought them back up the ladder to fifth spot. 

Hayden Young, Josh Treacy, Caleb Serong, Sean Darcy and Andrew Brayshaw were the best performers. 

This Week: 

The Dockers will face the hardest test in footy as they take on Sydney at the SCG. 

The Swans have won 10 straight games and sit clear on top of the ladder by three games. Their latest victory was against GWS in the battle of the bridge, where they dominated the Giants by 27 points. 

This will be the second time the two sides have met this season, with Sydney getting the victory by 48 points at Optus Stadium in Round 9. 

Talking Points:

Pay back 

The Dockers lost by eight goals to Sydney earlier in the season, but the game came at an emotional time for the club. 

Cameron McCarthy, who was a former teammate to a lot of the Freo players, passed away just hours before the game, and it clearly affected the team’s performance.

They also kicked 15 behinds and just four goals, despite having more clearances and marks inside 50.

The Dockers will see this as an opportunity to show their best against the top team in the AFL. 

A win here would change the season completely for the Dockers, who have been up and down all year. 

Shut down roles 

Justin Longmuir must think about how he shuts down Sydney’s midfielders. 

The quartet of Errol Gulden, Isaac Heeney, James Rowbottom and Chad Warner are in hot form, and have the potential of ripping teams apart. 

Gulden alone had 41 disposals, seven inside 50s and kicked a goal last week. 

If Dockers lose the midfield battle early, it could be all over very quickly. 

Defensive battle

Scans have confirmed captain Alex Pearce will miss a month of footy with a fractured forearm.

It means the Dockers will be missing their best defender, and vulnerable against an in-form Swans forward line. 

Sydney kicked 15 goals last week, with Tom Papley, Hayden McLean, and Will Hayward all kicking multiples. The week prior, Joel Amartey kicked an incredible nine goals. 

Freo has been a fairly good defensive side this season, but without their skipper and key backman, they’ll be tested this week.

PREDICTION: You just can’t tip against Sydney. They’re the best team in the competition for a reason. Swans by 25 points

West Coast Preview:

Last Week:

The Eagles went down to the Bombers at Marvel Stadium last week by 30 points. 

West Coast put up a decent fight and were actually within a goal late in the third term, but  were overrun in the final quarter. 

It leaves the team in 16th on the ladder, sitting a game clear of Richmond.

Jamie Cripps, Liam Ryan, Jeremy McGovern and Elliott Yeo were the best performers for the Eagles. 

This Week:

West Coast faces a difficult opponent in Hawthorn at Optus Stadium. 

The Hawks are coming off the bye and have won six of their past seven games, being one of the in-form sides in the competition. 

Coach Sam Mitchell has them playing exciting football, and with seven wins and seven losses for the season, they’re starting to dream of a run to finals. 

Talking Points: 

Reid’s return 

Everyone (except for Hawthorn fans) is excited about Harley Reid’s return to the lineup. 

Reid was handed a two-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on St Kilda’s Darcy Wilson, but is available for selection on Sunday. 

The Eagles haven’t won a game since he’s been missing and a return to the midfield will be crucial in handling Hawthorn’s on-ballers.

While he’s still a first-year player, his influence cannot be underestimated. 

The whole team walks taller when he’s out there with them.

Mixing it up

Adam Simpson has been throwing the magnets around lately, and found out Liam Ryan is actually a decent midfielder. 

The forward had a terrific game on-ball against the Bombers, picking up 19 possessions, three marks and six clearances.

With Reid back, it will be interesting to see how Ryan and other players are used, after what has been a successful experiment. 

The Upset 

Hawthorn is full of confidence, but this is a real danger game for them.

The Eagles will know they can take a scalp here with a strong start. 

The Hawks are still young and can give the opposition opportunities in matches. A long trip to Perth may cause the players to be slightly off. 

With West Coast getting important players back, and key forwards in form, they should set themselves for this contest. 

The fans will be bullish about the future if they’re able to get up here. 

PREDICTION: The two sides have met at Optus Stadium on two occasions and have won one game each. The Eagles have the quality to take a lead in the ledger by winning this one. We’re tipping the upset West Coast by five points

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