Ever since the first days of the Dockers with Scott Chisholm (The Prince of Pockets) and others charging around with a maniacal unpredictability, there has been a sense that while they are fun you could never put your house on them. Unfortunately though, one thing you can put your house on is, just when everything seems to be going nicely, something will go wrong.
Despite predicting this, I don’t have two houses now because my wife wasn’t quite so happy when Ladbrokes called and said: “your husband is putting your house on this”. Anyway, suffice to say, the Dockers were looking nicely balanced, without too many injuries until Jessie did what 99% of us do on a Saturday night and have a couple too many (and was late for training).
North Melbourne, on the other hand, are flying under the radar like they always do. It’s hard to dominate the agenda on social media when you’ve got 112 members but in this instance is probably a good thing. The injury list is short and they’ve got something resembling their best 22 named for the trip to Optus stadium on Sunday.
Last Five Meetings
|2018||Rd 10||NM||12.14 (86)||Fre||8.10 (58)||OS||37,575|
|2017||Rd 16||Fre||13.8 (86)||NM||12.10 (82)||ES||19,267|
|2017||Rd 5||Fre||9.13 (67)||NM||9.8 (62)||DS||33,319|
|2016||Rd 4||NM||20.12 (132)||Fre||14.17 (101)||ES||23,393|
|2015||Rd 21||NM||14.10 (94)||Fre||12. 11 (83)||ES||23,857|
Five things to watch
Well maybe not. When the Jesse Hogan news came out in earlier in the week I could feel the collective groan of every Dockers supporter in WA. Here we go again. I don’t mean to be disparaging to Hogan as clearly there are concerns for his own well being.
For the Dockers though, at a time when the balance on paper looked as strong as it has been, the big money man, the saviour, is missing. Hogan, or someone of his ilk, has been on Fremantle’s radar since Matthew Pavlich neared retirement. Fremantle needs Hogan on the field, taking charge and bullying opposition back men.
Ben Brown plays his 100th this week and is certainly one of the better tall forwards going around and at pick 47 in the 2013 draft is also one of the better draft bargains on any current list. Mason Wood should be his partner in crime but has had trouble getting on the park regularly with injury and form. He’s not huge for a key forward but has good hands and an accurate left foot. If the Roos are to move up in 2019 look for these two to develop as a solid pairing. This week will be a good time to start albeit against two solid backs in Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling.
Fyfe vs Higgins
This provides an interesting match up as much because of the difference between the opposing midfielders. Higgins had a great 2018, averaging a touch under 28 disposals per game and was rewarded with All Australian selection. His game is smooth movement and quality disposal. Higgins was 2nd in 2018 for inside 50s so look for Ben Brown and Mason Wood to benefit from the open forward line and accurate delivery from Higgins.
Fyfe is taller than Higgins, is an exceptional mark and a bull in close. Fyfe was unlucky to miss All Australian selection in 2018 although missing six weeks had him off Broadway and out of the selectors’ minds for a long period. He provides a great target up forward when resting and the loss of Lachie Neale has meant the Dockers won’t have this luxury as much as they would like. The winner of this contest goes a long way to determine outcome of the game.
Cerra and Brayshaw
Both these boys came a long way in 2018 and have extended their contracts at the Dockers until 2021. It will be very interesting to see how they will begin Season 2019 with their second full preseason and a full senior season under their belt. Do they get the second year blues or do they continue to improve? Hopefully, the latter – these are both high-class thinking footballers whose best could be exciting. While we are talking about kids, keep an eye for Bailey Scott for the Roos in his first game.
It was hard to get a line on what the Fremantle game plan will be this year. Without Fyfe in either game, their clearance numbers were down. Twelve goals was a reasonable return again the Pies in JLT1 but eight goals (ten behinds) against the Eagles wasn’t promising. Will Ross free them up this year? If he was going to his enthusiasm might be tempered by the loss of Hogan because it reduces the likelihood of winning contested marks inside 50 and those could turn into rebounds. All (well some) will be revealed Sunday.
I’m going with the Roos on this one. Goldstein will be too crafty for up and comer Darcy in the ruck and while the Dockers have greater midfield depth, first use for Higgins, Cunnington, Simpkin looks good for Brown, Wood and Ziebel. McCarthy, Taberner and Lobb do not look as dangerous.Roos by 15
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