Where and when: Marvel Stadium, Sunday April 7, 2:20pm AEST
Last time they met: Mars Stadium, round seven, 2018: Western Bulldogs 11.15 (81) defeated Gold Coast 10.12 (72)
The Bulldogs managed to overcome a stubborn Suns outfit in a Ballarat arm wrestle without captain Easton Wood and star Marcus Bontempelli. The home side trailed at each change but Jack Macrae’s 40 touches helped them over the line. Former Gold Coast co-captains Tom Lynch and Steven May were also notable absentees.
What it means for Western Bulldogs: Two nail-biting wins, the latest a barnstorming fightback over the Hawks, has the Dogs brimming with belief. Another win would take them to 3-0 to start the season for the first time since 2009, a year they made the preliminary final.
What it means for Gold Coast: A combined margin of four points in the first two rounds for the 1-1 Suns says how competitive they’ve been. They took down the Dockers last Sunday and a repeat of that against the Bulldogs would be quite a statement, particularly on the road.
How the Western Bulldogs win: More of the same. They’re No.1 in the competition for clearances differential and inside 50s, which is giving them the opportunities to kick a winning score.
How Gold Coast wins: Make the most of Jarrod Witts. The Suns are second for hitouts and the Dogs are 18th, so the co-captain should give his side first use. Improved goalkicking accuracy is vital too, as Gold Coast almost cost itself against Fremantle with 0.8 in the third quarter.
The stat: Western Bulldogs have beaten Gold Coast five times in row by an average of 32.2 points.
The match-up: Alex Sexton v Easton Wood
Sexton has kicked four goals in each game to emerge as an early leader in the Coleman Medal race and looks the biggest threat at either end. Ranked the fifth-best Sun in the Schick AFL Player Ratings and set to reach the 100-game milestone, the 25-year-old is likely to be shadowed by the athletic and disciplined Wood.
It’s a big week for: Liam Picken
The 32-year-old called time on his career on Monday, with ongoing concussion symptoms preventing him from adding to his 198 games since last playing in the 2018 JLT Series. Saying farewell to a much-loved figure at Whitten Oval should only further fuel the Dogs.
Father Dougals’s Tip: Bulldogs by 14. If they won the last two weeks they can win this week. High confidence in this pick
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