I believe this round will define Fremantle’s season. Win and they’ll be pretty confident of making the eight (barring a complete disaster) and playing in the finals. Lose, and they might spend the whole season struggling with at least three or four other teams for that final spot in the top eight.
I find it very hard to judge how the Dockers will perform in this match based on the first seven rounds. Excluding Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Brisbane because they aren’t flag contenders, Fremantle had two good performances against Geelong and St Kilda for two good wins and two mediocre performances against Sydneyand Carlton that resulted in losses.
I think the nature of the game will depend on which Fremantle team decides to step out onto the Tasmanian field. Hawthorn will pretty much play as they have in the first couple of rounds. If the Dockers come out like they did against St Kilda and Geelong and play tough, hard, defensive football while also correcting their wayward goal kicking of the past couple of weeks, I could see them stealing the win away from Hawthorn. If they come out like they did against Carlton and Sydney and let Hawthorn get too much of a jump on them, regardless of how hard they come back in the second half I don’t think they will be able to bring the game back to their favour again.
The Dockers have proved that winning away is no longer an issue, and they need to prove this and give some credibility to their finals chances with a win against the Hawks.
In saying this, I think that while it could come down to a close game, Hawthorn might just pip them in Buddy Franklin’s 150th.
My Prediction: Hawthorn by 15.