FREMANTLE v COLLINGWOOD – PATERSONS STADIUM (8.40pm AEST)
PREVIEW: Fremantle host league leaders Collingwood in a potential Friday night fizzer at Patersons Stadium. During mid-July the Dockers won their 9th match of the season, but have since dropped anchor and failed to win any of their 5 most recent games. Fremantle’s wretched run of form has seen them fall out of the top 8 and effectively ended their season a couple of weeks early. The Dockers are still a slight mathematical chance of making the finals, but realistically they haven’t got a hope, with an extraordinary sequence of results required for them climb back into 8th spot.
Injuries to key players has been an ever-present hindrance to Fremantle this campaign. The casualty ward grew further during a bruising encounter withNorth Melbournelast weekend, leaving the injury list longer than a Matthew Pavlich drop punt. Fremantle coach Mark Harvey has become exasperated by the lack of playing stocks available to him, bemoaning he will struggle to find 22 fit players for this week’s match against league leader Collingwood. Skipper Matthew Pavlich has been Mr Fremantle over the past decade, the club’s games record holder, Pavlich has played a remarkable 256 of a possible 264 matches since his debut way back in 2000. The champ contracted a calf injury last week and, with no prospects for finals football, will take the opportunity to have surgery on a troublesome hip. Pavlich will be joined on the sidelines this week by key players David Mundy, Hayden Ballantyne, Antoni Grover, Alex Silvagni and Adam McPhee.
In contrast, reigning premier and competition leader Collingwood has the luxury of recalling some its stars as the Magpies finalise preparations for their finals campaign. Full forward Chris Dawes returns from a finger injury, with running players Ben Johnson, Leon Davis and Andrew Krakouer also welcome black and white additions for the match to be played on the wide Patersons Stadium. In and under clearance player Luke Ball is rested.
After a horrible final quarter against Brisbane last weekend, the Pies have been making noises during the week about treating this game as a dress rehearsal for finals. At their menacing best Collingwood destroy opposing teams in the first half. Against an undermanned Fremantle, I expect things to get very ugly very quickly.
Collingwood have played nine games since their bye in the middle of the season. In 4 of those 9 games, the Pies have kicked more behinds than goals, roughly a 50-50 ratio. The odds at Centrebet for the Magpies to kick more goals than points this weekend is $3.60, which is essentially Centrebet saying the chance Collingwood will kick more behinds than goals is only 25%. It is definitely not a certainty to happen, but I reckon Centrebet have framed a really poor market and I will throw a speculative tenner on it.
TIP: Collingwood to win by 73 points
ANDY’S BET: Collingwood to be leading by 36 points or more at half time @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
ANDY’S BET: Collingwood to kick more behinds than goals @ 3.60 (Centrebet)
Lookout for previews of the remaining Round 23 matches to be posted on Friday.