Western Bulldogs v Collingwood
Little has been made of the on-field aspirations of either of these sides in the lead up to our sole Sunday clash in Round 14 of the 2019 AFL men’s season.
The Bulldogs and Magpies do, however, prepare to collide at Marvel Stadium and the country enthusiastically waves goodbye to a set of bye rounds littered with off-field controversies that overshadowed practically anything of importance between the sirens.
Luke Beveridge’s side looks to again push on the fringes of finals contention after last-gasp survival against the Blues while Collingwood seek to continue a hot run of form having won nine of their last ten, and attempting to keep pace with the roaring Cats…a task that has already eluded so many.
Jesse Robertson previews this Sunday clash in a weekend full of top-eight versus bottom-ten clashes as this week’s Featured Game for Play On Radio:
Both sides rebounded from defeats two games prior by reclaiming a place in the winners’ circle in their last outing, but the Bulldogs needed it more than most as they snapped a three-game losing streak in a desperately savoured nail-biter over the Blues. Though they lose Tom Liberatore to injury as one of four changes, young ruckman Tim English’s presence in the centre was immense and Marcus Bontempelli was his usual influential self in stemming the Carlton flurry, though he takes a place in the forward pocket on this week’s teamsheet.
Morale will be boosted further as premiership stand-in captain Easton Wood brings up his 150th game.
Collingwood’s fortunes have mostly been strong on the field but their greatest concern to date was handed down by the AFL themselves, as 2018 Rising Star Jaidyn Stephenson was handed a significant penalty for gambling that rules him out for the remainder of the home and away season. The team as a whole was impressive in its Queen’s Birthday win over Melbourne and return to cement a top-four place fresh from a week off.
Josh Dunkley stole the show last week as the Bulldogs started hot against Carlton, racking up 15 disposals and a classy goal in the opening term alone on his way to a career-best 41 touches and 10 tackles in a huge night. Tim English was unsuccessful in the direct ruck duel with Matthew Kreuzer but was important around the ground with six clearances and 2.2. While English faces a gruelling task against Brodie Grundy and Dunkley lines up with Adam Treloar, a repeat of these performances would do the Dogs a world of good.
The Magpies are the leading disposal side in the competition and typically a possession-hungry mindset prevails but they still picked up a seven-goal victory despite recording ten less touches than the Dees. As mentioned above, though, Grundy remains perhaps the elite ruck competitor and as the Pies lead for hitouts, facing a Bulldogs side ranked a distant last, the Pies can potentially expect an immediate advantage in the middle if English can’t replicate his efforts.
In looking to keep touch with Geelong at the top of the table, Collingwood have sufficient motivation not to merely take it easy against the 14th-placed Bulldogs, who may be deemed an also-ran if significant defeat befalls them Sunday.
Collingwood by 32.