Excluding the nostalgic impact the ANZAC day clash between Essendon and Collingwood, tonight’s game between Fremantle and Carlton might very well be the game of the round.
Carlton is the only team other than the two expansion teams that Fremantle has a positive record in their head to heads, something that I am sure will give Fremantle a bit of a confidence booster, as will their game against St Kilda last week. Even more significant for the purple army is the fact that it is the annual Len Hall game, a fixture that is very important in the hearts of those from the west as it celebrates WA’s last Gallipoli veteran. Last year’s Len Hall game was a ripper, with Fremantle securing the win in the last minute, and you can be sure this one will be up there as well.
It was a bit of good news and a bit of bad news for the team during the week, with Aaron Sandilands ruled out of the match with a knee injury which also affected his calf, but Nat Fyfe returning to the side after a week off with a shoulder injury. The midfield, with Fyfe, Barlow and Mundy, finally looks to be able to settle after a lot of time out with injuries for the latter two.
Probably the most important thing for the Dockers to do in this game is to shut down their opposition. Carlton have a number of dangerous players such as Chris Judd, Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and lightening quick forwards Eddie Betts and Jeff Garlett who can tear opposition teams apart. The Dockers need to really lock onto the defensive game that Ross Lyon has been drilling into them since his move to the West, especially since you can be sure Carlton will be looking for blood after an embarrassing loss against Essendon last week.
Contrary to popular opinion, I dont think the loss of Sandilands will have as much of an impact on this team as it did for the team last year. Opposition players have learnt to rove to Sandilands instead of their own man, and while Sandilands may get the tap, they’re rarely to advantage. I think the inclusion of Jon Griffin might just even the scores up a bit and allow the Fremantle midfielders to get as much out of the ruck as possible.
I think if they can shut down Carlton’s dangerous players and with the crowd and the importance of the Len Hall match, the Dockers can win this game.
My Prediction: Fremantle by 13.