Coming off defeats, the Dockers and the Bulldogs will face off on Sunday with a place back on the winners list on the line.
To avoid a repeat of the disaster against Port Adelaide, Fremantle will work to keep the Western Bulldogs chained and nullify their influential players’ output.
Heading into the clash at Optus Stadium, Dockers’ coach Justin Longmuir addressed the media and revealed his plans to silence the Bulldogs’ star players.
He announced that key pillars Griffin Logue and Matt Taberner on the cards for selection, bolstering their respective lines.
“Signs are positive on Taberner and Logue,” he said.
“We’ll give them until game day to prove themselves, but we’re really confident they’ll both come up.
“[It] gives us another tall in front of the ball and another key behind the ball which is really important.
“We missed those two last week.”
Defender Griffin Logue’s return couldn’t have come at a better time as he and All Australian defender Luke Ryan will have their hands full with Josh Bruce and Aaron Naughton.
Both in career-best form, few have successfully contained the pair. Bruce has kicked 33 goals and is third in the Coleman race, meanwhile, Naughton has kicked 28 and is sixth.
The job on the 21-year-old could go to Brennan Cox after blanketing Charlie Dixon’s output following his first quarter domination. However, the Dockers won’t be neglecting Bruce either, who is just as devastating.
“I was pretty happy with the job Coxy [Cox] did on Dixon after quarter time,” said Longmuir.
“I thought he was really impressive in the contest and nullified him after quarter time. So, he’s an opportunity to get that job.
“We just need to make sure we just don’t focus on one player. They’ve got some real weapons in the air along with English and Bruce as well.
“We need to make sure we get it done in the midfield and help our backs out.”
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Even without Adam Treloar and Josh Dunkley, the Bulldogs’ midfield is still menacing. In Brownlow medal form, skipper Marcus Bontempelli averages 27 disposals, 11 contested possessions, and five tackles, making him difficult to nullify. Similarly, Jack Macrae, also in red hot form, is the competition’s leader in disposals, averaging 35 touches at 77% efficiency.
Longmuir, aware of the threat in the middle of the ground, said there was a chance the Dockers would put attention into Bontempelli, but won’t neglect the others around him.
“He’s [Bontempelli] a chance,” he said.
“We can’t just let their midfield run riot, which they can do to sides. So we’ll be putting time into all of them.
“Whether he gets the specific job or we go to Macrae … who gets a lot of the ball, we’re still a bit undecided.
Injured duo Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling would be a handy inclusion to face off against danger forward Bruce and Naughton, however, Longmuir said they still have a while to wait before they return to the field.
While there is a more clear time frame on Pearce, he isn’t ruling out a return for Hamling.
“I can’t sit here and give you a definitive time [for Hamling],” he said.
It’s not coming along the way we would like it to
“There’s always a chance, [we may not see him again this season], but we’re hoping that’s not the case.”
On the other hand, Pearce is ‘tracking really well’ and will play full minutes for Peel in the WAFL on the weekend.
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