With a spot in the final eight all secured, the Western Bulldogs go into Etihad Stadium tonight against Collingwood with hopes of a much-needed percentage boost as well as another four points to bank. Last Saturday night, the Dogs came back onto the winners' list after two straight defeats with a win over North Melbourne in a low-scoring, but spiteful clash.
Remarkably, the Dogs still remain a huge chance for top four, only sitting a game and percentage outside of fourth-placed Greater Western Sydney, and with a win over the Pies, they should be able to secure wins over lowly-placed teams in Essendon and Fremantle in the coming weeks and hope that other results fall in their favour if they are to look at a potential top four finish.
For the Pies, they were utterly disappointing last Friday night in their final three quarters against fellow strugglers in Richmond, eventually going down to the Tigers by 15 points, but like the Dogs, Collingwood have had their own sort of injury problems this year, the end of the season couldn't come quicker for Collingwood and their supporters, but they'll be looking to end a three-game losing streak against the Bulldogs.
IN: Matthew Suckling
OUT: Dale Morris (Hamstring)
B: Shane Biggs, Fletcher Roberts, Easton Wood
HB: Jason Johannisen, Joel Hamling, Matthew Boyd
C: Lachie Hunter, Marcus Bontempelli, Liam Picken
HF: Lin Jong, Jake Stringer, Clay Smith
F: Tory Dickson, Tom Boyd, Caleb Daniel
FOL: Jordan Roughead, Luke Dahlhaus, Josh Dunkley
INT: Matthew Suckling, Zaine Cordy, Nathan Hrovat, Lukas Webb
EMG: Toby McLean, Will Minson, Jed Adcock
Only the one change for Dogs sees Matthew Suckling come back into the line-up as we expected after recovering from an achilles complaint, with Dale Morris' omission coming in as a bit of a shocker, with the club citing his omission from the team as 'hamstring soreness'. This comes after the veteran defender, who had played another spectacular game in defence last week, had signed a one-year contract extension until the end of 2017.
IN: Tyson Goldsack, Darcy Moore, Adam Oxley, Jordan De Goey, Tom Phillips
OUT: Mason Cox (Shoulder), Ben Crocker (Concussion), Ben Reid (Knee), Marley Williams, Travis Cloke (Both Omitted)
B: Jonathon Marsh, Nathan Brown, Jeremy Howe
HB: Josh Smith, Tyson Goldsack, Brayden Maynard
C: Steele Sidebottom, Adam Treloar, James Aish
HF: Rupert Wills, Darcy Moore, Travis Varcoe
F: Adam Oxley, Jesse White, Jarryd Blair
FOL: Brodie Grundy, Scott Pendlebury, Taylor Adams
INT: Jordan De Goey, Levi Greenwood, Tom Phillips, Jack Crisp
EMG: Brent Macaffer, Travis Cloke, Alan Toovey
Whilst the Dogs have made only one change, Collingwood have made five changes to the side that lost to Richmond last Friday night, with three of them being forced changes. Their American import Mason Cox will sit out with a shoulder complaint sustained from last week's loss, Ben Crocker sits out after suffering a concussion during the week at training and injury-prone defender Ben Reid could potentially miss the rest of the year with knee soreness. The other two to be dropped from the line-up are Marley Williams and Travis Cloke who has been axed for the third time this season, suggesting that his time at Collingwood may be up.
Headlining the list of inclusions for the Pies is second-year sensation Darcy Moore, who looks set to take Cloke's place as the number one key forward for the Pies, after bagging 21 goals in 15 games this season. Others to be included into the side tonight will be veteran Tyson Goldsack, promising midfielder Jordan De Goey and fringe players Tom Phillips and Adam Oxley.
Last Time They Met – Round 10, 2016
Western Bulldogs: 11.8.74
Many expected the Western Bulldogs to walk over Collingwood in their previous meeting at the MCG, but Collingwood took the fight right up to the Bulldogs for three quarters before the Bulldogs pulled away in the last term, kicking five goals to one for a 21-point win.
For the Pies, it wasn't entirely their fault that they stumbled in the last term. Injuries to Darcy Moore, Alex Fasolo, Taylor Adams and Alan Toovey during the match meant that the Pies were reduced to no one on the bench, but you got to give credit where it's due, the Pies were gallant in defeat.
Jeremy Howe had one of his best games since crossing over to Collingwood from Melbourne, and had 28 disposals, with 11 marks and 11 rebound 50s from the Pies' defensive half. Scott Pendlebury (32 disposals, six tackles, one goal) and Adam Treloar (31 disposals, six tackles, one goal) were once again prolific in Collingwood's engine room, whilst Darcy Moore was Collingwood's only multiple goalscorer with two majors and looked a huge threat before being cut down with injury.
Easton Wood had one of his best games of season 2016, as he had 21 disposals and took a number of intercept marks in the back-half and he also managed to kick a superb goal in the last quarter from outside 50. Luke Dahlhaus had equalled a career-high 37 disposals and was terrific, as was Jack Macrae, who had 32 disposals and 10 tackles, whilst the trio of Josh Dunkley, Tory Dickson and Jack Redpath kicked two goals each and were the Doggies' only multiple goalscorers.
Players To Watch
After breaking through for one of his better AFL games in his short-lived career, Boyd is now facing more scrutiny after hardly being sighted in last week's win over North Melbourne, only having registered four disposals and held goal-less. He did have a good game against the Pies in a pre-season encounter this year, one can only hope that he can replicate it tonight.
Has struggled at times since arriving from Brisbane at the end of last year, but he's starting to find some form that had him selected in the top 10 in the AFL draft a few years ago, he's averaged 20 disposals in the past month, and is able to kick a goal or two, with four goals in the past fortnight. He would want to carry that good form into tonight.
I'd like to say the Bulldogs by a fair margin, but I can't rule out the possibility of Collingwood coming here to make a statement on the Bulldogs. They nearly toppled them the last time they met and on the back of playing some horrific footy against mediocre opposition, they'll be primed to bounce back to some form tonight, even with the number of outs this side has. Dane Swan, Alex Fasolo and Jamie Elliott only just headline the players that they are missing tonight.
However I expect the Bulldogs to win, even with all of their injuries, they should be gunning for a top four berth and are in one of the more better positions to do it. They looked more hungrier for the ball than North Melbourne last week and if they can continue that sort of form into tonight, then they should beat Collingwood.
Western Bulldogs By 32 Points