WHERE AND WHEN: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Friday April 11, 7.50pm (AEST)
HISTORY: The Bulldogs have had the better of the Magpies of late, claiming the points in five of the last six encounters between these two teams.
SUMMARY: Having suffered losses to premiership contenders in Geelong and West Coast, the 1-2 Magpies will be looking to square the ledger on their season on Friday night. The Western Bulldogs’ unbeaten start to 2019 came to an end last week, Luke Beveridge’s men suffering an unexpected loss to Gold Coast.
KEY PLAYERS: Adam Treloar (Collingwood)
Treloar starred the last time these two clubs met in round 10 last year with a game-high 40 possessions, two goals and six inside 50s in a performance that garnered three Brownlow medal votes. Treloar’s ability to break the lines and either impact the scoreboard or create scoring chances for his teammates means he is one the Bulldogs must contain if they’re to stop a Collingwood side that can score heavily when at the top of its game. Expect Josh Dunkley – who has excelled as a run-with player – to be assigned the task of curtailing Treloar’s influence.
Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)
Macrae has enjoyed a stellar start to 2019, the 24-year-old averaging a career-best 33.7 possessions. The Bulldogs young gun ranks sixth in the AFL for uncontested possessions per game, and his ability to execute with ball in hand is central to the Western Bulldogs kicking a winning score. Nullifying Macrae’s effectiveness will surely be a focus for Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, with captain Scott Pendlebury – who has shown a preparedness in recent times to sacrifice his own game to curb the opposition’s most damaging midfielder – likely to go head-to-head with Macrae.
Jamie Elliott (Collingwood)
Elliott had a quiet night at the office in last week’s loss to West Coast, managing one goal from just six possessions. With three games under his belt after a lengthy stint on the sidelines due to injury, Elliott should be ready to start hitting his straps. The 26-year-old is a dangerous prospect because he is able to impact the contest in the air and at ground level. Hayden Crozier is capable of matching Elliott in both aspects and will most likely be given first crack at the Magpies star. Key to the Bulldogs’ strong start this season has been their manic pressure around the contest. They will need to bring their A-game in terms of defensive pressure, otherwise Elliott will dine out on quality supply from his star-studded midfield.
Josh Schache (Western Bulldogs)
Schache was instrumental in the Dogs’ come-from-behind win over Hawthorn with four goals but didn’t to back it up the following week, the 21-year-old failing to trouble the scorers against the Suns. If the Western Bulldogs are to go places this season, they need greater consistency from the likes of Schache who is set for a tough assignment with emerging defender Darcy Moore bound to be his direct opponent.
PREDICTION: This clash could easily go either way given that both teams are loaded with midfield talent. However, Collingwood have more reliable performers forward of centre and should get over the line in what shapes as being a high-scoring encounter. Magpies by 19 points.