Where and when: Optus Stadium, Sunday April 7, 3.20pm AWST
Last time they met: Optus Stadium, round eight, 2018: Fremantle 13.11 (89) defeated St Kilda 8.11 (59).
After a nightmare week off the field, the Dockers at least salvaged something against the battling Saints, who were all but out of the contest after kicking 1.5 to half-time. Nat Fyfe starred with 36 touches and a monster 13 clearances, continuing his red-hot form.
What it means for Fremantle: Memories of the blistering round one win quickly faded after an ordinary effort on the Gold Coast, and the Dockers need to get back on the winners list to give themselves a buffer before a more challenging stretch of games to come.
What it means for St Kilda: Nobody expected the Saints to sit 2-0 and if they can ambush Fremantle away from home it would frank their form and go a long way to proving Alan Richardson’s men won’t just be also-rans in 2019.
How Fremantle wins: The Dockers pounded North Melbourne’s backline into submission with repeat forward 50 entries, breakneck ball movement and frantic pressure in round one and if they can replicate that effort St Kilda won’t be able to keep up.
How St Kilda wins: Pressure. If the Saints can lock down Fremantle’s ball movement, which is generally a lot slicker at Optus Stadium, they can limit the threat of the Dockers’ dangerous tall forward line and protect a depleted backline.
The stat: Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe was simply unstoppable last time the teams met, finishing with 36 touches, 25 contested possessions, 13 clearances, eight centre clearances and a goal.
The match-up: Jack Steele v Nat Fyfe
Steele is the equal competition leader for tackles (17) after two rounds and, importantly, has the ability to hurt Fyfe the other way if the Freo skipper doesn’t pay him enough attention. If Steele can’t restrict Fyfe, it’s hard to see St Kilda winning.
It’s a big week for: Ross Lyon
He was toasted for bringing Fremantle’s style up to date with the modern game after round one but a week is a long time in football and Lyon will be under the pump if the Dockers don’t play with that freedom again and beat the Saints at home.
Father Dougals’s Tip: Fremantle by 7. I want to pick the Saints as a surprise upset, but I can’t do it away at Optus. Who do the Saints have to match Fyfe? Well, Jack Steele. Enough said. I have medium confidence in this pick.
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