WHERE AND WHEN: Metricon Stadium, Saturday May 5, 4.40pm
LAST TIME: Fremantle 17.10 (112) d Gold Coast 9.8 (62), round 15, 2011, at Patersons Stadium
After a week of back and forth and perceived offence from Fremantle and Gold Coast, both clubs will be relieved that they can let their actions do the talking.
Suns captain Gary Ablett started proceedings last week during Fremantle’s match against Carlton, tweeting: “[Ryan] Crowley is a joke” which left Fremantle Coach Ross Lyon claiming a lack of respect coming from the new AFL club towards the Dockers.
Lyon rarely gets distracted by off-field antics, so it is highly unlikely that he truly cares about what Ablett tweets, particularly as Ablett finds himself on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Rather, Lyon will be interested in presenting the young Suns with a challenge in stopping the Fremantle attack.
Last week the Suns’ young brigade stepped up to the challenge without experienced midfielders Ablett and Michael Rischitelli, but unfortunately faded away.
The challenge will be set once more, and in front of a home crowd it provides a fantastic opportunity for the Suns to prove that Ablett isn’t their only hope of being competitive in their formative years.
Fremantle will be disappointed with their conversion rate in front of goal, and will look to improve in that area.
The Dockers’ defensive efforts managed to keep the scoreline close as Carlton threatened to blow out the margin, but eventually the easy misses came back to haunt them.
The Dockers’ defensive gameplan forces opponents to panic and then punishes them for it, so the Gold Coast side must remain composed in order to take the four points.
Zac Smith, Gold Coast
Aaron Sandilands may be missing once again for Fremantle, but that does not mean Smith’s job becomes any easier.
Jonathon Griffin and Zachary Clarke are just as formidable, and Smith must neutralise their impact in order to give his midfielders a chance.
Smith has been slightly disappointing after a fantastic 2011, and he will be looking to regain that form today.
Matthew Pavlich, Fremantle
Pavlich has proven to be capable of dominating from all over the ground, and presents a difficult match-up problem for Suns coach Guy McKenna.
Nathan Bock may be able to follow Pavlich around the ground, but McKenna will then lose the opportunity to throw Bock forward.
Fremantle appear to need Pavlich up forward and in the midfield, but ideally their midfield would step up and allow Pavlich to play as a leading centre-half-forward.
David Swallow, Gold Coast
It seems harsh to expect a second year player to lead a midfield unit, but this is exactly what David Swallow has to do today.
With injuries forcing key omissions, he becomes the Suns’ go-to midfielder and may find himself against the No 1 tagger for the first time in his short career.
If this is the case, Swallow must quickly prove that he can cope with a tag and keep the Suns’ midfield running.
Michael Barlow, Fremantle
Barlow’s return from his horrific leg injury has been a long one, but he is just now getting back to the form which saw him become such a revelation.
His clearance work is exceptional, and he continues to provide Fremantle with first use of the ball, things could get ugly for the Suns.
Gold Coast were quite impressive last week without their stars, but they’ll have to repeat that effort in order to remain competitive today.
Fremantle appear to have set themselves for a big game this week, and should have too much for the Suns.
Fremantle by 45
Gold Coast Suns
B: Jared Brennan, Nathan Bock, Seb Tape
HB: Matt Shaw, Matthew Warnock, Joel Wilkinson
C: Maverick Weller, Karmichael Hunt, Trent McKenzie
HF: Harley Bennell, Tom Lynch, Josh Toy
F: Campbell Brown, Sam Day, Luke Russell
Foll: Zac Smith, Josh Caddy, Dion Prestia
I/C: Charlie Dixon, Sam Iles, David Swallow, Kyal Horsley
Emg: Alik Magin, Jacob Gillbee, Jackson Allen
In: Josh Toy
Out: Brandon Matera (Foot)
B: Garrick Ibbotson, Zac Dawson, Adam McPhee
HB: Michael Johnson, Luke McPharlin, Tendai Mzungu
C: Paul Duffield, Ryan Crowley, Stephen Hill
HF: Matthew de Boer, Christopher Mayne, Clancee Pearce
F: Hayden Ballantyne, Matthew Pavlich, Zachary Clarke
Foll: Jonathon Griffin, David Mundy, Greg Broughton
I/C: Dylan Roberton, Michael Barlow, Lachie Neale, Lee Spurr
Emg: Jay van Berlo, Alex Silvagni, Thomas Sheridan
In: Dylan Roberton, Lee Spurr
Out: Nathan Fyfe (Shoulder), Jack Anthony
New: Lee Spurr (Central Districts)
Milestones: Jonathon Griffin – 50 games
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