Fremantle Dockers v Geelong Cats – 2012 Starlight Purple Haze Game

When and Where – Saturday 31 March, 4.45pm bounce down, Patersons Stadium, Subiaco

Perth Broadcast information – Live 4.30pm (WST) Fox Sports 1 and Channel 7

Past five games (2012 NAB Cup)
Freo – W L W L L
Geel – W L W L W

The medical room

Freo – Star midfielder David Mundy is at least another week away, while Jack Anthony will miss with minor calf soreness after having a strong pre-season. Key defenders Alex Silvagni and Antoni Grover have had interrupted preparations and were not selected in the 22, however Grover has been named as an emergency. Young gun Lachie Neale could not be considered because of an ankle injury but he is close to resuming.

Geelong – The Cats are not far off from fielding their best 22. Daniel Menzel and Nathan Vardy are long-term injuries, while Travis Varcoe, Josh Hunt, and David Wojcinski are out this week. Corey Enright will make his first appearance in 2012 after achilles soreness kept him out of the NAB Cup.

Who’s hot

Freo – Stephen Hill:
 Hill has had a strong pre-season and his form throughout the NAB Cup has been blistering. Freo will try to get the ball in his hands at every opportunity and encourage the 21-year-old to run. If Hill takes the game on, Freo’s chances of beating the Cats will get better with every bounce he takes.

Geelong – Jimmy Bartel: Bartel is a champion and he’s back to his Brownlow Medal-winning best. As tough as they come, he is as important as any cog in Geelong’s midfield and must be kept in check on Saturday.

X-Factor

Freo – Aaron Sandilands: Given the quality of Geelong’s on-ballers, the inclusion of Aaron Sandilands was crucial, giving Freo a major boost at the stoppages. The three-time All Australian hasn’t played many minutes in the NAB Cup, but that doesn’t make him any shorter. All 211cm of the star ruckman will be called upon to give Freo first use of the ball.

Geelong – Tom Hawkins: While Jimmy Bartel won the Norm Smith Medal for his efforts in the 2011 Grand Final, there was no more influential player than Tom Hawkins. The young Cat took the game by the scruff of the neck in the final quarter. If he can take that form into 2012, the competition will be on alert.

Key matchups


Luke McPharlin v Tom Hawkins –
 As previously mentioned, Hawkins could be on the cusp of stardom, but McPharlin is as stingy as they come. The reliable Freo defender was rarely beaten in 2011 and always gets the job on the opposition’s best forward. If he can curb Hawkins’ influence it will go a long way towards helping Fremantle pick up priceless four premiership points.

Aaron Sandilands v Trent West/Orren Stephenson – The retirement of Brad Ottens leaves Geelong with an inexperienced ruck brigade of Trent West and 29-year-old rookie Orren Stephenson. There is no greater test for an AFL ruckman than the towering figure of Sandilands, so the Cats’ pair will face a tall order on Saturday. Sandilands must impose himself at the stoppages against his less-credentialed opponents and give Freo first use of the ball.

The midfield match-ups – 
Geelong’s new captain Joel Selwood will lead a talented Geelong midfield group that includes Jimmy Bartel, James Kelly, Joel Corey and Paul Chapman. Without David Mundy, the onus will fall on Freo’s young midfielders, led by the talented Nat Fyfe and Michael Barlow, who hasn’t seen much action in the NAB Cup. The speed and daring of Hill and Hayden Ballantyne will also be important.

Stats that matter

Disposal Efficiency %
2011 home and away     2012 pre-season
Geelong                           73.8                             69.2
Fremantle                        70.7                             72

Mark-play-on %
2011 home and away         2012 pre-season
Geelong                           42.4                             41.1
Fremantle                        36.3                             31.2

Clearances total
                              2011 home and away         2012 pre-season
Geelong                          778                               56
Fremantle                       808                               75

When they last met

Fremantle 10.18.78 defeated by Geelong 13.11.89 at Patersons Stadium, round 2, 2011

GEELONG held on against a wasteful Fremantle at Patersons Stadium to notch a thrilling 11-point win in premiership hero Paul Chapman’s 200th match. Both sides enjoyed periods of dominance in an enthralling clash, but it was Geelong that took its chances when it mattered in the 13.11 (89) to 10.18 (78) win. Fremantle booted 3.9 in the second half to Geelong’s 5.5, with young Freo forward Chris Mayne missing two set shots in the home stretch and captain Matthew Pavlich also straying wide at a crucial stage of the game. Young forward Michael Walters’ attempt to mark a goal-bound Pavlich kick in the last minutes also was critical in the final analysis. Geelong was under immense pressure from the home side for most of the final term, but midfielder Jimmy Bartel stood up to kick a brilliant running goal against the flow of play and Mathew Stokes sealed the win in the final minute…  from afl.com.au 

Toyota AFL Dream Team

Freo – Matthew Pavlich has averaged 108.5 points per game against the Cats over the past five games – well ahead of the next best Freo Docker who is playing on Saturday, Michael Johnson (79 DT ppg). ‘Pav’ has scored 103 and 70 in his last two NAB Cup games so the Freo skipper is a good option.

Geelong – Jimmy Bartel: The 2011 Norm Smith Medallist has taken his form from the Grand Final into the pre-season, scoring a whopping 143 against Gold Coast and 86 against the Western Bulldogs. He’s averaged 110.8 in his past five games against Freo, which makes him a solid option this week.

Where Freo can win it – with Mark Stone

Fremantle lost to Geelong by 11 points in last season’s Starlight Purple Haze Game at Patersons Stadium in round 2. On that occasion the home side kicked itself out of the game by registering an inaccurate 18 behinds.

Fremantle assistant coach Mark Stone said Freo would have to take its chances when they present against a quality outfit like Geelong.

“If you waste opportunities in front of goal it’s going to eventually catch up with you and cost you games,” Stone said.

“For us, it’s about getting as many inside-50s as we can to give ourselves a scoring chance.

“When we get it in there, conversion is very important. We can’t afford to be kicking 18 behinds.”

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