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Aussie Rules: Fremantle v Melbourne preview

Friday night throws up another huge game in the AFL with fifth-placed Fremantle set to face second-placed Melbourne under the lights at Optus Stadium.

Just two points separate the two sides and there is plenty riding on the game as we approach the business end of the season.

The final standings will have a huge impact on their chances of doing well in the finals and a spot in the top two is up for grabs for both sides.

With Brisbane, Collingwood, Carlton and Sydney also sniffing around it is tight at the top as everyone tries to chase down ladder-leaders Geelong.

However both Fremantle and Melbourne have the chance to put down a marker in the opening game of round 20 and the stakes are high.

So let’s take a closer look at the team news and form in both camps heading into such a big game.

What: Fremantle v Melbourne
Where: Optus Stadium, Perth
When: 20:10 (AEST), Friday 29th July 2022
How to watch: 7Mate, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Fremantle 11/10, Melbourne 3/4

Lobb back in for Dockers

Freo have already shown they can beat the Demons this season. Indeed it was the Dockers that snapped Melbourne’s 17-game winning streak that included the 2021 grand final in Perth.

That victory also started a poor run of form for the Demons who have since gone on to lose a further four games this season. They are not quite the force they were are the start of the season but will still represent a huge test for Freo.

The Dockers have also lost five games this season, while they have also picked up a very rare draw.

That was against the Richmond Tigers in Melbourne last week and only time will tell whether it is a case of two points won or two points dropped.

Either way Justin Longmuir’s side do need a response against Melbourne to get their season back on track.

The men from the west looked to be in with a great shout of making the top two, but the last two results have put a bit of a spanner in the works.

Before the draw against Richmond, Fremantle slipped to a home defeat against the Sydney Swans. It is fair to say that Optus Stadium has hardly been a fortress this season and that is a bit of a concern.

As well as losing to Sydney, Freo have also slipped to defeats against St Kilda and Collingwood on home soil. Melbourne will take heart from that.

There is some great news for the Dockers though as leading goal-kicker Rory Lobb returns to the side after missing the Richmond draw with a shoulder injury. The forward will be a big inclusion for the Dockers.

However there is no Nat Fyfe as the Freo skipper is nursing a hamstring niggle and will not be risked against the Demons.

The jury is out on the Demons

Melbourne sit second on the ladder but the jury is still out regards their chances of going on to win  back-to-back grand finals following some patchy form of late.

In their latest outing against the Western Bulldogs they went down to a 10-point loss, which came just a couple of weeks after a heavy loss to Geelong, so all is not rosy in the Demons garden.

The jury was also out on Melbourne last season until they finished the season strongly to go on and win the minor premiership and grand final in impressive style.

In 2021 they did not lose a game from round 17 onwards. In 2022 they have already lost in round 17 and round 19 so it is fair to assume they are not in the same groove.

It is way too early to right the Demons off but they will need to rediscover their best if they are to go on and win back-to-back flags, and there is no better place to start than at Optus Stadium.

The place will have happy memories for the Demons after Perth held last year’s AFL grand final. It could be just what they need to spark them back into life.

The Demons receive a huge boost ahead of the game with the news that both Jake Lever and Jayden Hunt are back available for head coach Simon Goodwin.

Melbourne have also been handed a boost on the eve of the game with the news that star defender Angus Brayshaw, who averages 8.6 marks per game this season, has penned a new long-term deal.

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