As with so many of the coming games in the final rounds of the 2013 AFL season, Melbourne and Fremantle’s match will have significant impact on the make-up of who plays where in the finals. Join us for live scores and updates from 1.10pm AEST.
Dockers fans wouldn’t have dared dream of a top two finish at the start of the year, but their team is on the cusp of completing what would be the most successful home and away season in their history, and it won’t end there.
Fremantle have been one of the most consistent teams all season and are worthy of the prize.
A win last week against GWS, a record margin for the club, has them in the perfect position to grasp two home finals, a double chance and the tantalising prospect of the club’s first premiership decider.
Another percentage boosting win could be critical to those aspirations.
With all that at stake, you would expect the Dockers to bring their A-game.
Fremantle are hungry and playing a brand of football that has stood up even though the club has been hit by injuries for most of the season.
Those key players are back, or are coming back, at the right time.
Melbourne have improved under Neil Craig, but will face a tough task to even stay close to the Dockers should they play to their full potential.
The Demons are playing at home at the MCG and will surely try to get a fast start and put pressure on the Dockers.
No one does pressure better than Freo though, and should the visitors get control of the game at any point, it will be hard for Melbourne to wrest it back.
There are other distractions, as ever, for the Demons players, although they can take solace in that the scrutiny on the club is perhaps not to the level it might be if not for the scandal at Essendon.
They are approaching the end of a bleak season, and could possibly be forgiven for lacking the enthusiasm to see out the year.
Enthusiasm for the contest is what they will have to produce if they are going to compete on any level with Fremantle.
The election of a new club president in Glen Bartlett is a positive step for the Demons, however, and they will hope the changes they have made, and will have to make, will bring stability and continuity to their organisation.
It may not inspire a win for Melbourne, but if the players produce a competitive effort it will be seen as a success by its stakeholders and fans.
Stephen Hill comes back for the Dockers in place of Cameron Sutcliffe (omitted), while for Melbourne Jeremy Howe and Sam Blease replace teammates Mitchell Clisby (suspension) and Daniel Nicholson (omitted).