AFL Round 9 Preview: Tough Assignments For West Coast & Fremantle

AFL Round 9 Preview

AFL Round 9 Preview: Tough Assignments For West Coast & Fremantle

AFL Round 9 Preview
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Round 9 promises to be fascinating, after more intriguing outcomes last weekend. 

The Cats have finally been defeated, Collingwood could be ‘back’, there’s extreme pressure on Luke Beveridge’s Bulldogs, and the Roos are still bad. 

What will the round of games have in store? Let’s find out. 

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Games To Watch

Carlton vs. Melbourne (MCG, Thursday Night)

All eyes will be on Carlton to see if Michael Voss’ men can bounce back from their first back-to-back loss of the season.

“We are getting some good feedback from some good opponents on what we need to get to work on,” Voss said post game.

What the fans want the side to really work on though, is simply getting a win.

Carlton were defeated by Collingwood by six points in heartbreaking circumstances on Friday night, a week after a close two-goal loss to Geelong. 

In both games Carlton was the inferior side, but refused to give up. They’re now eighth on the ladder with a record of five wins and three losses. 

Things don’t get any easier this week against Melbourne, who gave Geelong its first defeat of the season last weekend. 

Melbourne showed its defensive strength against Geelong while taking enough chances when going forward to register an eight-point win in a low-scoring tussle. 

It puts them inside the top four with six victories and just two losses for the year. 

“Our efficiency is starting to improve and looking more dangerous,” Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said after the match. 

Carlton will certainly understand the danger of its opposition this Thursday night, however, the two-point win over Melbourne in last year’s semi-final should give them a slight confidence boost.

This one is a genuine blockbuster. 


Melbourne proved its tactical and defensive quality against Geelong last week, making it very hard to tip against them. You’d expect the Blues to make it a tough contest after two disappointing losses, but they haven’t shown enough this season to make anyone confident of an upset

Melbourne by 10 points.

Geelong vs. Port Adelaide (GMHBA Stadium, Friday Night)

Geelong lost their first game of the season against Melbourne but still remains the team to beat in 2024. They’ll be keen to knock off a fellow ‘contender’ in front of the home fans at Geelong. 

Opponents Port Adelaide have had a tough week also, coming off an upset defeat to rivals Adelaide in the Showdown. Ken Hinkley was criticised for mistakenly playing captain Connor Rozee after he re-injured his hamstring, while the woeful kicking at goal, resulting in just five goals and 18 behinds, would have given some players a few sleepless nights. 

Geelong knows the matchup with Port Adelaide offers an opportunity to get back to its best, having beaten Hinkley’s men by two goals the last time they met. And while they weren’t playing great footy last round, coach Chris Scott remains fairly optimistic.

“The real positive we take from the game is we were off, and we gave ourselves a chance to win,” Scott said post game. 

They probably can’t afford to be ‘off’ this week, as Port Adelaide are looking to make a statement with a big win.

After a questionable few weeks, a win here would put the season back on track. 

This should be another belter. 


This has all the makings of a Port Adelaide ‘bounceback’, but you still can’t tip any away team at GMHBA Stadium. Geelong are a different proposition at their home ground and are arguably the best team in the league. Have to pick Geelong here.

Geelong by 20 points.

West Coast Eagles

Last Week

What a heartbreaker this was.

West Coast missed out on its third win of the season after going down to Essendon by just six points on Saturday night. 

West Coast trailed by three goals at three-quarter time but fought back hard in the final term to give Essendon a scare. 

Despite having 16 less inside 50s, West Coast took their opportunities up forward, although coughed up three silly goals due to brain fades – most notably Jamie Cripps’, “most diabolical lack of discipline,” as described by Leigh Matthews, with just minutes to go in game. 

It was yet another promising performance for West Coast after a good month of footy, but the fans should rightly be disappointed they couldn’t get the four points here. 

Jake Waterman, Tim Kelly, Liam Duggan, Jack Williams and Jeremy McGovern were the best performers for the Eagles. 

This Week

West Coast takes on Collingwood this Sunday afternoon at Marvel, in what will be a huge test. 

Collingwood looks back to their best after beating Carlton by six points last Friday night, with their pressure and tackling a key factor in the win. 

They had 34 more tackles than the opposition, which led to bad disposal from Carlton and 26 less inside 50s.

“Plus (34) is a big number. We weren’t getting (that amount) last year,” coach Craig McRae said post game.

“Plus (34) tackles is hard to play against, isn’t it?” 

It certainly is. And West Coast will have to hope they don’t have to find out this week. 

They’ll need to be wary of the pressure from Collingwood, and also their key stars who looked back to their influential best. Most notably Nick Daicos, who proved to be the difference with 32 disposals, 16 contested possessions, seven tackles, seven clearances, six inside 50s, 626m gained and two goals – including the incredible match-winning major with a minute to go in the game. 

Collingwood is 9th on the ladder with four wins, three losses and a draw. 

It’s going to be tough. 

Talking Points

Wounded West Coast 

Can West Coast compete without their stars? We’ll find out this week. 

With an already extensive injury list, West Coast added three more to it after last weekend’s defeat.

Jake Waterman, who was best afield with three goals, six marks inside 50 and a heap of one-percenters, will miss with concussion, Noah Long injured his knee, and veteran Elliott Yeo, who has been in career-best form, is out for one-to-two weeks with a low-level groin strain.

Waterman and Yeo, especially, have been a huge part of the Eagles’ latest run of good performances. It’s going to take a lot of effort from the rest of the group to make up for their absence.

Composure and contest 

West Coast were sloppy with possession last week, but most of that was due to Essendon’s elite pressure. Essendon had an incredible pressure rating of 1.92 (compared to West Coast’s 1.69), and also outtackled West Coast by 23, despite having more possession. 

It’s something Adam Simpson must be wary of against Collingwood, especially after the Pies’ highly-publicised pressure last week. 

West Coast is a decent contested team, which has been on show in the last month. But the absence of Elliott Yeo this week will make it tough to replicate the same numbers we’ve seen recently. 

Essednon’s pressure last week also led to 16 fewer inside 50s for the Eagles, which meant they had to be extremely efficient inside 50 when getting the ball down there. 

It helps when Jake Waterman can take strong contested marks, but with the key forward missing through concussion protocols this round, they’ll need to rely on someone else to clunk and kick goals. 

Flying into the future 

West Coast knows it’s playing for the future, so it helps when young players start to flourish.

We’ve seen a few junior Eagles take flight throughout the first part of the season (most notably Harley Reid) but it was Jack Williams and Brady Hough who made fans smile the most last Saturday night. 

Williams, who is playing as a forward and support ruckman, took strong marks inside 50, had 15 possessions and kicked three goals. 

Brady Hough, the 21-year-old backman, was solid once again, keeping Jake Stringer to just one goal for the night. Hough has flown under the radar as a reliable defender, keeping small forwards such as Willie Rioli, Cody Weightman and Michael Walters quiet in the first half of the season.

Eyes will be on youngsters like Hough and Williams to see if they can maintain a good level of footy and see West Coast fly into the future with confidence. 


It’s too hard to tip against Collingwood when they’re in this form. Can’t see West Coast winning. 

Collingwood by 30 points 

Fremantle Dockers

Last Week

Fremantle registered its biggest win at the MCG since 2015, thrashing Richmond by 54 points on Sunday afternoon.

In their second trip to Melbourne for the year the Fremantle were the dominant side for most of the afternoon but kicked seven goals in the final term to allow it to be reflected on the scoreboard. 

It was a physical contest, with some mini melees breaking out throughout the match, but Fremantle never looked in doubt of losing the game with Richmond’s performance being incredibly poor. 

It was Fremantle’s fifth win of the season, taking them to 6th place on the ladder after eight games played.

Hayden Young, Luke Ryan, Caleb Serong, Andrew Brayshaw, Jordan Clark and Josh Treacy were the best performers for Fremantle. 

This Week

Fremantle has an enormous challenge this week, hosting top-of-the-ladder Sydney at Optus Stadium on Friday night. 

Sydney smashed rivals GWS (who were dubbed the best team in the AFL by some pundits) by 29 points last week, making a statement to the rest of the competition. 

In wet conditions, they were harder and hungrier than the Giants, dominating clearances, contested possession and inside 50s. 

Sydney has lost just one game this season, with an upset defeat to Richmond in Round 3, but are a genuine flag threat, and will be a big test for Freo this week.

Talking Points

Ryan Jostling 

Expect to see Luke Ryan jostling with a number of Sydney forwards this week, after an incredible performance against Richmond. 

The key defender was brilliant with 15 marks and a career-high 39 disposals. 

Ryan has been in terrific form this season, and one of the key reasons for the Dockers’ impressive defensive record in 2024. 

Fremantle kept Richmond to just 49 points last round, and the backline will hope to maintain momentum against the Swans. 

Sydney kicked 98 points in wet conditions last week, and has kicked over 100 points in five matches already this year – averaging 15 goals a game. 

It’s going to be a difficult task, but Ryan and his fellow defenders look up to it. Let’s see what they can do.

Forward thinking 

Do Fremantle finally have the answer to their forward issues? 

Maybe not, but Josh Treacy is helping solve it. 

The key forward slotted a career-high four goals on Sunday, including three in the fourth term. It was the second time he’s kicked three goals in a quarter this season, while also being a consistent threat inside 50 for the majority of Freo’s campaign. 

“He’s been a presence for us all year,” Justin Longmuir said post game.

“He went on a bit of a run there and kicked three in a row which is good to see him get some reward for effort … He’s growing before our eyes and doing a super job.”

If Fremantle has a chance against Sydney, they’ll need the likes of Treacy to hit the scoreboard. And with Jye Amiss, whose “treatment behind the ball” resulted in Longmuir going to the umpires for more protection, and Sean Darcy also kicking goals, things are looking a bit more promising for the Dockers. 

Let’s see if they can kick a big enough score to compete with Sydney this Friday. 

Nat your average sub 

Eyebrows were raised last week when Nat Fyfe was named the sub a week after his best game for a number of years. 

Fyfe came on late in the game to pick up a quick eight disposals, and it didn’t end up affecting the result at all. But it was an interesting decision to halt his momentum after a match that signalled he might be ‘back’.

In hindsight, Longmuir may have had an eye towards the Sydney clash, and thought Fyfe’s ageing body could benefit with less minutes. 

The fans will be intrigued to see which player is selected as the sub this week, and if Fyfe’s extended rest enables him to put in another elite performance.

He’ll have to if the Fremantle want to win. 


An upset win to Fremantle wouldn’t be a total surprise, although Sydney’s scoring power looks a bit too good. You can’t tip against the Swans, they’re on top of the ladder for a reason.

Sydney by 12 points.

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Featured image: DAVID WOODLEY / AAP Image