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DETERMINED AND DASHING DEES WILL BE TOO HOT FOR DIVING DOCKERS AT DOMAIN by Positive Peter from Perth


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The writing is on the wall for the Dockers. After plunging to defeat against North Melbourne last Sunday at Etihad Stadium, they are odds on (in my book anyway) to suffer another loss to the plucky Demons who will cross the Nullarbor with every reason to feel confident about their prospects knowing that thousands of their own long-suffering negative supporters have been left behind whining and moaning in Melbourne.

With very few supporters in Perth, the Dees will be able to lift the "veil of negativity" and play the style of free-flowing running football that the modern game requires without the worrisome and pessimistic vibes of supporters in the stands who have stunted the team's performances since coach Paul Roos took over the coaching reins almost two years ago.

The hard working Melbourne board and its coaching panel are entitled to expect positivity to course through and through the veins of every player who runs out onto the hallowed turf of Domain Stadium unburdened by the pressure of thousands of critical pairs of eyes of the fans left behind in Victoria.

Max Gawn will cut Aaron Sandilands down to size in the ruck duels and his dominance there and around the ground should lead the way for the Demon midfield to destroy those hesitant worry warts in the Docker on ball division which will be quaking in their collective boots knowing that their star player and Brownlow favourite Nat Fyfe has been ruled out of this game because of a "leg injury".

Leg injury, my foot. The bloke's supposed to have inflammation in his fibula in his left leg, a condition known as periostitis but my spies tell me he took one look at the vision of Melbourne's midfield in full flight against Carlton at the MCG last Sunday and quickly bailed out knowing that there was absolutely no chance that he could possibly poll any votes against that lot. After all, he's no Patrick Cripps is he?

The Demons should be first to the ball at every contest. There will be no fumbling and no turnovers. Jack Watts will barge his way through packs to win the footy, Chris Dawes will mark everything in sight and every inside fifty pass will hit Jess Hogan on the tit as he gives Fred Fanning's long standing goal kicking record a fair shake. By about 7.00pm AEST the commentators on the Fox Footy Channel will be delving into the record books to ascertain whether they have just witnessed the biggest upset in the history of the game.

And don't think Sunday's inevitable victory of Fremantle will be the end of the matter for the dazzling Dees. They will go on to bigger and brighter things to wrap up the season by finally winning successive AFL home and away games for the first time since Methuselah was a boy and simultaneously break their Etihad Stadium hoodoo by teaching the GWS Giants a lesson on how to play football under a roof in front of a non existent crowd because, like their counterparts from Sydney's western suburbs, those negative nellies are unlikely to turn up to the game either.

After that, I fully expect them to go further onwards and upwards with a 2016 season that will make the Western Bulldogs' turnaround of this year look like small pickings because I'm one of those people who (like the Doggies' coach and former Demon player, Luke Beveridge) doesn't place modest objectives on my team. I have loftier ideals.

And I'm positive about that!

THE GAME

Fremantle v Melbourne at Domain Stadium Sunday 30th August, 2015 at 4.40pm (AEST)

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall: Fremantle 20 wins Melbourne 13 14 wins

At Domain Stadium: Fremantle 10 wins Melbourne 3 4 wins

Last Five meetings: Fremantle 5 4 wins Melbourne 0 1 wins

The Coaches: Lyon 2 wins Roos 0 1 wins

* since I have no doubt that the Dees will whip the Dockers within an inch of their lives, I already have credited them with the win in advance in the above stats. Why muck around after all?

MEDIA

TV - Fox Footy Channel, live at 4.30pm (AEST)

Radio - SEN, ABC, ABC Grandstand

THE BETTING Fremantle $1.07 to win Melbourne $8.50 to win

LAST TIME THEY MET

Fremantle 18.10.118 defeated Melbourne 6.14.50 at the MCG, Round 5, 2015

The Dockers toyed with the Demons and never really gave them a look in. Nat Fyfe picked up his inevitable three Brownlow votes with consumate ease and Chris Mayne booted four against the hapless Dees who only had one player, Daniel Cross (21) who could manage more than twenty touches.

FREMANTLE

B: Lee Spurr, Luke McPharlin, Tendai Mzungu

HB: Cameron Sutcliffe, Michael Johnson, Garrick Ibbotson

C: Michael Barlow, Stephen Hill, Nick Suban

HF: Danyle Pearce, Matthew Pavlich, Matt de Boer

F: Jonathon Griffin, Chris Mayne, Michael Walters

FOLL: Aaron Sandilands, David Mundy, Lachie Neale

I/C: Zac Dawson, Ed Langdon, Clancee Pearce, Tommy Sheridan

EMG: Paul Duffield, Alex Pearce, Matt Taberner

IN: Ed Langdon, Matthew Pavlich, Clancee Pearce

OUT: Hayden Crozier (omitted), Nat Fyfe (leg), Alex Pearce (omitted)

MELBOURNE

B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Jeremy Howe

HB: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Christian Salem

C: Matt Jones, Bernie Vince, Daniel Cross

HF: Viv Michie, Jesse Hogan, Alex Neal-Bullen

F: Jeff Garlett, Jake Spencer, Oscar McDonald

FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney

I/C: Jack Grimes, Ben Newton, Billy Stretch, Jack Watts

EMG: Rohan Bail, James Harmes, Aidan Riley

IN: Neville Jetta, Matt Jones, Oscar McDonald, Jake Spencer

OUT: Angus Brayshaw (rested), Chris Dawes (ankle), James Harmes (omitted), Heritier Lumumba (ankle)

NEW: Oscar McDonald (19, North Ballarat)

What more can I say? The Demons are so confident of a win that they decided to rest young guns Angus Brayshaw and James Harmes this week and gave Oscar McDonald a debut game in the penultimate round in much the same way as they did with older brother Tom some four years ago. Even the selection moves are oozing positivity!

It wasn't all that many moons ago that a different Melbourne turned up at the airport in Perth ready to do battle with Fremantle at the same ground (although it was called something else at the time). It was around the middle of the last decade when they were actually ranked more highly than any other Victorian club in the AFL.

Back then, the Demons had a dip but the Dockers were committed, on song and on the way up. Conversely and unbeknown to them, the visitors from interstate were on the wrong side of their then coach's premiership clock which had not only stopped ticking but was about to break a spring and stop working altogether. Co-incidentally, some of the major players in the club's more recent past were aligned to the Dockers but were brought back home to help the Dees when they went into decline. Sadly, that didn't help.

In the interim it's no secret that Melbourne has struggled in the west. The team has lost its last 15 games at Domain Stadium and their last six against Fremantle have been by an average of 68 points.

However, we know that the tide must turn one day and what better day than now? The Dockers have been unconvincing in recent weeks, having lost their last two matches and now must finish off the home and away season without playmaker Nat Fyfe who dominated when these teams last met at the MCG earlier in the season.

Teams always lift for milestone games and I expect Melbourne to lift for its courageous captain Nathan Jones who will notch up his 200th in this match. It's no coincidence that the team's performances have slipped in synch with a decline in the skipper's form over the past few weeks when he didn't look quite right but those who attended the club's training session at Domain reckon both he and Bernie Vince look to be in tip top shape for this one. Their return to form and the absence of Fyfe could swing this one in the Dees' favour.

I already alluded to big Max Gawn earlier but there is really only one man in the competition who can stare eye to eye into the face of Docker ruckman Aaron Sandilands and that man is Max who I tip will topple him in an intriguing contest between the two tallest men in the AFL.

I also believe the Demons will be primed to win the key position battles with Tom McDonald and Jesse Hogan forming the new breed of dominant key position players of the future joined by T Mac's younger bit slightly taller brother Oscar making his long-awaited debut. Make no mistake - the Dockers are in a state of panic about this game. The best indication of that is the fact that they rushed Matthew Pavlich back prematurely when he really should be sitting in the stand resting with Nat!

The pundits are giving the Dees no chance in this game but I'm predicting a shock (but not for me) result in a game that will push the Dockers further into decline.

Melbourne by 29 points.

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