In the placew of my usual “Things I Would Like to See at” column, I thought I would list the ways in which I thought both teams could win this game.
Attacking Pressure: The Dockers are amongst the best in the league in getting the ball in their forward 50 and locking it inside. The likes of Matthew De Boer and Chris Mayne provide intense tackling pressure on the opposition defenders and if they continue their dominance from the past few years it could provide difficult for the Eagles backs to get the ball out.
Jon Griffin: Much is said about the massive dominance of Aaron Sandilands in the ruck but how that has not translated to clearance wins for the Dockers. I think it would be a smart move, even for just the first half, for Lyon to run with Griffin in the ruck to make it a little less predictable, and keep Sandliands and nimble big man Zac Clarke in the forward line. Providing two massive targets in the forward line for midfielders to bomb it into could just address the kicking-for-goal woes of the Dockers.
Defence, Defence, Defence: One part of the team that is working almost perfectly in this team is the defenders. Luke McPharlin, Michael Johnson and Paul Duffield have found their form after an off 2011 season and are absolutely running amok in the backline. With the publisied forward-troubles the Eagles supposedly have, if these guys gel, they could make it super tough for the remaining forwards to have much of an impact.
Fill-in Forwards: With the injury problems, Jack Darling and Josh Hill have found themselves taking on the burden of being the go-to forwards. Darling especially looks like he is uncomfortable running around with the opposition team’s number one defender. One thing that works in their favour is a sense of unpredictability for the opposition defenders to match up on, being less-then knowledgeable on their opponents then if it were Josh Kennedy and Mark Le Cras. This unfamiliarity could work in their favour, especially given Fremantle’s trouble converting goals down the other end.
Midfield: Probably the area where they have the biggest advantage over the Dockers. They are set, a well oiled machine that has played together for a long time and can pretty much read each other’s thoughts. While the Dockers have David Mundy and Michael Barlow back, they are still trying to work themselves back into form following injury, and if the Eagles can continue to snipe the clearances, they will run over the top of the Docker’s midfielders.
Cox + Naitanui: Cox is having another blinding season while Naitanui is continuing to improve with every game. I still dont think Naitanui has earned the massive praises lauded at him by the media, but this game will go a long way to proving me otherwise. If These two men can get over the top of the Docker’s big men, the flow on effect for the rest of the Eagles team will be huge, and could just prove the difference between a win and a loss