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The Fremantle Dockers and the Adelaide Crows will both be looking to continue their strong starts to the AFL pre-season when they meet at Sounness Park in Week 2 of the NAB Challenge this afternoon. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 4:40pm (AEDT).
Week 1 of the NAB Challenge saw both Fremantle and Adelaide feast on inexperienced opponents. The Dockers cruised to a 60-point win against a Richmond side containing twelve players aged 21 or younger. Similarly, the Crows easily accounted for a West Coast team that included only seven of the players that suited up for last year’s grand final.
For Fremantle, new captain David Mundy will again sit out as he recovers from a groin complaint, while mobile phone enthusiast Hayden Ballantyne drops out of the side due to a minor hamstring that shouldn’t cause him to miss any regular season games.
More concerning is the knee issue suffered by promising second-round draft pick Darcy Tucker. Initially thought to be a cork, scans have prompted the club to send the 19-year old to see a specialist in Melbourne.
Chris Mayne, Hayden Crozier and second-year players Ed Langdon and Ethan Hughes are among the inclusions to what will again amount to an almost full strength team, however Dockers fans will have to wait at least another two weeks to see big off-season addition Harley Bennell.
On the other side of the field, the perennially injured Brad Crouch will again miss out on suiting up for his first game since Round 23, 2014. A healthy Crouch could make a huge difference to Adelaide’s finals hopes this season and therefore the club is being very cautious with the injury-plagued midfielder.
In better news for Crows fans, Rory Sloane is set to play his first match for 2016, along with ex-Blue Troy Menzel. First-round pick Wayne Milera and new acquisition Paul Seedsman will both play their second matches of the pre-season, however veterans Eddie Betts, Sam Jacobs, Scott Thompson and the newly re-signed Daniel Talia will be rested from the trip to Mount Barker.
Second-year players Harrison Wigg and Reilly O’Brien are among the inclusions with no senior games to their name who will be looking to make the most of their opportunities. O’Brien in particular is one to watch after finishing second in the SANFL best and fairest in 2015.
Players to watch
Fremantle: Matthew Taberner. If Fremantle are to win a premiership in the Ross Lyon era they must develop a more potent forward line. The end of Matthew Pavlich’s outstanding career is very much in sight and Taberner is a player that needs to make a leap this year if the Dockers are to be serious contenders.
Adelaide: The off-season pickups. The loss of Patrick Dangerfield has created an unintentional yet very interesting case study on the merits of retaining a single superstar versus acquiring several solid players to fill gaps across the roster. It remains to be seen how Adelaide will fare without the services of Dangerfield, however the hope for the Crows is that new recruits Menzel, Seedsman, Dean Gore and Curtly Hampton will add depth across multiple positions, limiting the impact of Dangerfield’s departure.
The scoreboard is likely to favour the more experienced Dockers against a Crows side missing a number of key contributors. However, both teams can walk off as winners by avoiding any serious injuries.
Fremantle 76-50 Adelaide
Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 4:40pm (AEDT).