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Fremantle’s finals hopes are on the line in this crucial middle-of-the-ladder clash against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium. We’ll have live scores and a blog from 3.15pm AEST.
The Dockers need a win to keep their finals hopes alive and the Kangaroos need a win to get a home final.
Although the Kangaroos are already assured a spot in the finals, the prospect of West Coast and Fremantle shifting around positions five to eight on the ladder make it imperative to gain a home final to avoid any possibility to have to play a final in the West.
These two teams last met in round 22 last year at Etihad Stadium where the Kangaroos annihilated the Dockers 21.17.143 to 6.9.45 giving the Kangaroos a 98-point win.
The Kangaroos are coming off their best win of the season, beating Collingwood by 30 points in a team effort where there were no weaknesses across the entire field. The young midfield brigade stood up to their potential billing and restricted the powerhouse Magpie midfield to second use of the ball.
The Dockers have the tough task of travelling to Melbourne after defeating Richmond by 22 points last week over in the West.
Although they won the Dockers did not do it convincingly and may not have won had it not been for the controversial call up of Aaron Sandilands at the last minute.
Sandilands was near best on ground but his late inclusion forced coach Ross Lyon to play his trump card well before finals out of sheer desperation to make it there.
The Kangaroos are the form team of the competition with nine wins from their past ten outings but the Dockers are not far behind.
Beyond the Kangaroos red hot form, the other big query will be the Dockers travelling to Melbourne which will be taxing this late in the season. The Dockers have not had consecutive home games at Subiaco since round 10 which has cost them in those close away games.
The Dockers are the other form team in the competition with seven wins from their last eight games but only one of those wins has been against a top eight team (West Coast in round 19).
They have come over to Melbourne four times this season to walk away with three wins. This form flatters the Dockers however because those wins have been over Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda, none of which are finals contenders. Their loss came in round 14 against Collingwood.
Both teams enter unchanged from the previous week with the only concern regarding Matthew Pavlich who was rated as 50-50 to play earlier in the week.
One of the key match ups will be Scott Thompson on Pavlich who is currently the competitions leading goal kickers and probable Coleman medallist.
Pavlich was fairly quiet last week after a string of six goal hauls late in the season pushed in to the top of the goal kicking tally.
He will be looking to bounce back and the problem for North Melbourne is, when Matthew Pavlich plays well, the Dockers win.
Scott Thompson put on a key defender masterclass last week when he shut out Travis Cloke, not allowing a single goal. Thompson was instrumental in last week’s win and will need to produce that same performance if not better to shut down Pavlich who is in far greater form than Cloke.
The other key matchup will be in the middle of the ground. Aaron Sandilands and Todd Goldstien are both All-Australian ruckman who love moving around the ground and playing as genuine midfielders.
Both are critical to their team’s clearance games not only after the hit out but the follow up. Sandilands averages 4.6 clearances per game which is second at Fremantle only to Nick Lower who is not playing this week.
Goldstein averages 3.1 for the Kangaroos to rank sixth at the club and will have to lift his performance to limit Sandilands influence on the game.
Ross Lyon has been performed below expectations this season and win will more than likely assure the Dockers a finals berth so long as they beat Melbourne next week.
A loss will bring an end to a disappointing season which will rely too heavily on other teams losing in order for the Dockers to make the finals.
The ball is in Fremantle’s court.