Where and when: Optus Stadium, Sunday, May 26, 3.20pm AWST
Last time they met: Optus Stadium, round 15, 2018: Fremantle 9.10 (64) lost to Brisbane 18.11 (119)
Things started going downhill for Fremantle before the opening bounce when Aaron Sandilands suffered a calf strain, and it didn’t get better with Nat Fyfe tearing a hamstring in the second term. In Sandilands’ absence, Lions ruckman Stefan Martin dominated in the club’s first road victory in a year.
What it means for Fremantle: The Dockers have tumbled from second to ninth after three-straight losses and, with Collingwood at the MCG to come before the bye, another defeat at home would be a major blow to their finals aspirations.
What it means for Brisbane: Only one of the Lions’ six wins has come outside Queensland – and that was against battling North Melbourne in round two. Victory in the west would not only boost their top-eight chances, but also fuel belief they are good enough to play in September.
How Fremantle wins: The Dockers are averaging 88.4 points from five games at Optus Stadium and will create enough chances to kick a winning score, but they have got to be more efficient going inside 50 and take their opportunities.
How Brisbane wins: The midfield needs to stand up against Fyfe and co. Brisbane has enough quality in Lachie Neale, Dayne Zorko, Hugh McCluggage and ruckman Stefan Martin to win the onball battle and put the brakes on Fremantle’s scoring.
The stat: Neale’s League-best 305 disposals is the most by a Brisbane player after nine rounds, with Craig Lambert’s 266 touches in 1996 the next best, according to Twitter statistician @sirswampthing.
The match-up: Nat Fyfe v Lachie Neale
Fyfe is the second-best footballer in the competition, according to the AFL Player Ratings, and Neale is coming with a bullet – climbing from 12th to seventh this year alone. The former Freo duo might not go head-to-head, but both average eight clearances and will have a major say on the outcome.
It’s a big week for: Lachie Neale
The two-time Doig medallist would have circled this fixture before the season and couldn’t be returning to Perth in better form after racking up a season-high 39 disposals with 12 clearances in the one-point cliffhanger against Adelaide.
Father Dougal’s Tip: Dockers by 10 points.
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