It’s a difficult assignment this afternoon for North Melbourne, who travel to Paterson Stadium to play the in-form Fremantle Dockers. We’ll have live scores and commentary from 3.20pm AEST.
It has been a disappointing season so far for the Kangaroos.
They’ve lost four games by under a kick this year, including the after-the-siren loss to West Coast a couple of weeks back, but they will feel confident that they can go with the Dockers in this one.
The Dockers will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak to eight (having won six and drawn one), the second-longest streak in the club’s short history.
Fremantle will also be confident this week with news that star forward Michael Walters has been brought back into the line-up pending a fitness test on Friday, after he suffered an ankle injury in Round 8 against the Swans.
This will be a boost for Fremantle especially as Aaron Sandilands and Matthew Pavlich are still recovering from their respective injuries.
The Dockers have shown no signs of missing their star players this year however piecing together a nice defensive display each week and they are currently the league’s best team in defence letting in on average a miserly 70 points a game.
Keep in mind though that the Dockers only average 90 points a game and are ranked 13th in this category.
North Melbourne’s defence is ranked ninth conceding on average 93 points a game; their attack on the other hand has some firepower averaging 104 points a game, which is the sixth best in the league.
It will be interesting to see how the Kangaroos deal with Fremantle’s defensive pressure.
Forward Lindsay Thomas was out of sorts before the bye against the Gold Coast and will be keen to hold onto or extend his Coleman Medal lead, and expect Drew Petrie to give Zac Dawson a few headaches.
Expect the game to be won in the midfield. Fremantle’s Michael Barlow has been in Brownlow form averaging 26 disposals for the season and 32 a game over his last three games he has been red hot, in a Fremantle team that has shared the load.
Interesting to note the last three games between the two sides have been blow outs:
R22, 2012: Fremantle 20.12 (132) d North Melbourne 12.7 (79) at Etihad Stadium
R22, 2011: North Melbourne 21.17 (143) d Fremantle 6.9 (45) at Etihad Stadium
R4, 2011: Fremantle 18.19 (127) d North Melbourne 14.14 (98) at Patersons Stadium
If Fremantle is to beat North Melbourne it would be the first time since 2004-5 that a team has won consecutive games between the two, with both teams winning 4 a piece since 2007.
In my view it will be hard for North Melbourne to win this one; Fremantle is up and about this year and are a serious premiership contender. My heart says Fremantle by 5 goals.
Prediction: Fremantle by 32