WHERE AND WHEN: University of Tasmania Stadium, Saturday July 13, 2.10pm (AEST)
HISTORY: The Hawks have dominated the Dockers over an extended period, having won nine of the past 10 meetings between the two teams. Fremantle have an abysmal record in Launceston, winning just one of its 11 games at the venue.
SUMMARY: Hawthorn kept their slim finals hopes alive with a nail-biting four-point win over Collingwood, but with a challenging run home September action looks a distant prospect for Alastair Clarkson’s men. A season that promised so much is starting to slip away for Fremantle, with losses to strugglers Melbourne and Carlton followed by a 91-point hammering at the hands of cross-town rival West Coast. At 7-8 on the season, the Dockers are in desperate need of a win to re-establish some momentum in their campaign.
KEY PLAYERS: Mitch Lewis (Hawthorn)
Lewis produced his best game of the season to date in the last-start win over the Magpies, filling the stat sheet with 16 possessions, seven marks – three of which were inside 50 – and two goals. With experienced campaigner Jack Gunston sidelined by a leg injury, the Hawks will be looking for Lewis to produce another well-rounded effort.
Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle)
Fyfe was held to a season-low 21 disposals by Eagles star Elliot Yeo last week and will be keen to bounce back with a strong performance in what is a season-defining game for Fremantle. Nullifying Fyfe’s impact at the coalface will be key to Hawthorn securing the win, with Daniel Howe – who curbed Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury’s influence last round – set to be assigned the monumental task of taking the Dockers superstar out of the contest.
Jaeger O’Meara (Hawthorn)
O’Meara was central to Hawthorn’s last-quarter surge against Collingwood, leading from the front at the clearances. The 25-year-old is one of the League’s best clearance players and more often than not makes the right decision with ball in hand. Negating the smooth-moving midfielder will go a long way toward denying the Hawks’ forwards of sufficient quality ball to kick a winning score. Expect Darcy Tucker – who is a strong ball-winner in his own right – having averaged 20.3 possessions per game in 2019 – to be given a run-with role on O’Meara.
Brandon Matera (Fremantle)
Matera is on track for his best return in terms of goals in a season, but has been below his best in the past fortnight, backing up a one-goal effort in the round 15 loss to Carlton with 0.3 against the Eagles. Fremantle will need the 27-year-old to be firing on all cylinders if they’re to register a score that will see them claim a much-needed four premiership points.
PREDICTION: While Fremantle’s form in the Apple Isle isn’t anything to write home about, the Dockers of 2019 have demonstrated that they’re capable of getting the job done on the road having accounted for Greater Western Sydney in Canberra and Collingwood in Melbourne. With a clear edge in terms of winning the football in the clinches – Fremantle are ranked second for contested possessions while Hawthorn place 16th in this category – the Dockers should scrape home in what shapes as being a titanic struggle. Dockers by 10 points.