The 2020 AFL season has been full of drama, the penultimate game of the home & away season sees Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs on a Sunday night in Cairns. As always, we bring you our preview and best bets for the clash below!
Cazaly’s Stadium, Sunday 6:10pm (AEST)
The Dockers have been one of the big improvers of 2020, with new coach Justin Longmuir implementing a possession based style that has seen his young side flourish. The Dockers come into this clash on the back of two consecutive wins after thumping North Melbourne by 64 points last week.
Fremantle’s undermanned defence, led by Luke Ryan has done an excellent job keeping the Dockers in matches this season, whilst their young midfield core has been given more responsibility this season as Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Caleb Serong have repaid that faith with breakout seasons. Nat Fyfe has spent more time forward and David Mundy has often found himself on the wing as the young trio have been given plenty of opportunities to shine.
Andrew Brayshaw has had a stellar season averaging 20 disposals, and his form to finish the season has been strong, recording over 20 disposals in four of his last five games. Brayshaw also starred in his lasting outing against the Bulldogs, as he racked up 26 disposals at Marvel Stadium last season. The Bulldogs have been using Toby McLean in a run with role recently, with great success. However with McLean out injured, Brayshaw should have no troubles capping off his breakout season with another stellar performance.
The Western Bulldogs hold their finals destiny in their own hands after a solid victory over Hawthorn in round 17. A win against the Dockers and the Dogs will be playing finals footy for a second consecutive season, whilst a loss opens the door for Melbourne to take their spot in the top eight.
The Bulldogs have been in red hot form with four wins in their last five games with their only blemish being a heartbreaking loss to Geelong. Led by Alex Keath and Zaine Cordy the Bulldogs defence has been excellent, holding opponents to an average score of just 48 points in their last four wins. Whilst Keath and Cordy have held down the key posts in defence, Caleb Daniel and Hayden Crozier have provided plenty of bounce of half back.
Caleb Daniel has had a career best season off half back and is a front runner for All-Australian selection. Daniel is averaging 22 disposals in his last five games and has recorded over 20 disposals in 10 occasions this season, including a dominant 28 disposal display against Hawthorn last week. Daniel has had his way against the Dockers, as he racked up 30 and 29 disposals in his two games against the Dockers last season. With the Dogs season on the line, expect a big performance from Daniel.
Both teams come into this match with two very different opportunities. The Bulldogs are playing for a spot in the finals, whilst the Dockers are simply playing for pride. The formlines for the two teams are strong, with Fremantle winning their past two games, whilst the Bulldogs have won four of their last five outings. The Bulldogs will be boosted by the likely return of Easton Wood, whilst the Dockers could potentially see Griffin Logue return from a long stint on the sidelines.
The Bulldogs face a simple scenario: win and they play finals, lose and they’ll miss out. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they come to a happy hunting ground in Cairns where they hold a 4-0 record at Cazaly’s Stadium.
Expect no complacency from a Bulldogs outfit that will be desperate to sure up a finals berth. As they have shown all season long, Fremantle won’t be a pushover but with the gap in talent and experience between the two sides, the Bulldogs will get over the line and feature in the finals for a second straight season.
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