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Dogs v Dockers – NAB Challenge (26th February)

In a game that should be deleted from the history books, Matt has taken a look at what little we can scrounge from the latest NAB Challenge clash at the Etihad.


Western Bulldogs v Fremantle Dockers.
Etihad Stadium. Wednesday 26th February, 2013.
Click here for AFL Match Centre.

We’re now closing in on the end of pre-season, so team selection is becoming even more vital. Unfortunately Fuller was missing again, so this is concerning. We might have to wait until Jeppa’s next rookie wrap for another D8! Fyfe was left out, nothing to worry about there. There was however a couple of new faces that needed to be watched closely. Both squads went in with strong line-ups, so there was plenty to learn.

As I do not believe anyone could stay awake for more than half of that game, I’ve done the painful research for us. Here are the key players that stood out!


Honeychurch – I’m left on the fence after his performance. Unfortunately he was subbed in the final quarter, but I saw enough of him to be encouraged. His 10 point first half wasn’t great, however he showed some good signs in the third term. I wouldn’t be brave enough to start him, however if he gets a run in the Bulldogs final practice match then don’t write him off for a position at F8. He ended up with 30 from 40% TOG.

Minson – Wilbur left me a little bit disappointed. After Lobbe’s disaster yesterday I had brought in Minson, however he was dominated by a rather large talking point which I will get to soon. Yes it’s pre-season and I’m sure Big Will is in for a huge season, however 65 from 77% TOG doesn’t match the 490k price tag. He remains a safe, bankable option.

Boyd – 95 from 84% game time, not bad from Boydy but my stance remains the same from last week. Avoid.

Liberatore – He recovered his score in the second half to end up with 87 from 76% game time. I think we will have to get used to his inconsistencies this season. His performance was nothing to scoff at, however his big scores will be matched by some poor ones. To increase his average to above 105 (which would make his value worth it) requires extreme consistency, and at 21 that’s a big ask. Very risky.

Jong – Jong will be restricted to a tagging role this season, and that will mean inconsistent scoring. Possibly worth the 155k in RDT if he can get in the first team but you would think Picken has the edge there. 39 from 61% TOG doesn’t get me too excited.

Higgins – 58 from 49% TOG, why did this have to happen! I will never even consider him, however if you’re willing to take the risk on his brittle body then he showed enough scoring potential to warrant selection.


Sandilands – BOOM! Lock him away behind the steel vault, I honestly reckon he has to be in our teams in both formats. However he certainly doesn’t have to be starting, he’s sitting at R3 for me and I’m happy to have him there. With a lack of ruck rookies he is the perfect cash cow whilst providing great back-up. If he goes down with injury, it’s not a massive issue. If you want to start him however, you’re playing Russian Roulette with your season. Getting rid of an injured Sandilands for another starting ruck requires 2 trades, plus a lot of time and points lost. Either way his value is too good to ignore, he dominated one of the League’s best ruckman in Minson. 122 from 74% TOG says it all.

Barlow – If Hussey can be called Mr Cricket, then Barlow should be called Mr Dream Team. Consistency personified, a safe bet for a solid 105+ average. 93 from just 74% game time was a great hit out.

Pavlich – Quite a few people are rightly considering the Pav after an injury interrupted season last year. He’s had a strong pre-season and looks to be in fine form, albeit with some wayward kicking. He scored 95 playing 86% of the game, around the same mark you can expect him to play throughout the season. An option more suited to Fantasy, his 393k price tag makes him a strong contender as a POD in our forward lines. I see no reason he can’t return to an average of 90, at least high 80’s, even though his best scoring days are behind him.

Duffield – 72 from 88% TOG is not surprising from the Duffman. He will have the same role as he has in past seasons, and I can’t see him adding to his average. Avoid.

Walters – A lot of people are considering these midpriced blokes, and fair enough to. Walters score of 105 from 81% TOG showed that he is capable of scoring big enough to warrant his 400k price tag. It’s just such a risky pick at that price, and if you go picking too many gambles simply because “We have 44 trades” then I’m not sure you’re doing it right, you need to make the most of them! His score was inflated by 4 goals and he will have his down games, just like any small forward. I can’t see him reaching the heights of guys like Stokes just yet, so personally I would be avoiding. If you play it safe elsewhere then maybe it’s worth the gamble!

Crozier – I think some people have been considering Crozier as a midpriced forward option. You can abruptly stop this consideration as his 24 in 57% TOG shows how up and down he will be, regardless of the talent.

Dawson – Finally, I can confirm to any newcomers that Zac Dawson IS NOT good value at 182k. In fact you could pay me 182k and I still wouldn’t start him in my team. Glad to clear that up.

In the best of the rest, Macrae stood out with 30 disposals, 10 marks and 5 tackles leading to 129 points in just 74% TOG. He looked great and will get a run through the midfield this year, but we must remember it’s only pre-season. Griffen is still to return and he is only 19, sure he could breakout like Wingard but those talents are few and far between. It all depends what you want him to average, he would be a shout to average 85 and make you 100k, but that next step to premium territory is still a big one. Koby Stevens had a big game with 120 points from just 73% game time, however he showed us last year he’s capable of the occasional big score. Consistency is his next step, and that can’t be guaranteed. Cooney had a good game but I wouldn’t even consider him at over 500k in midfield. Wallis netted a nice 102 from 73% TOG, however I wouldn’t be seen dead with a tagger in my team. If he breaks that role then certainly take a closer look, 11 tackles inflated his score. Dahlhaus had yet another good game, finishing with 92 from 73% TOG. Another 20 touches and 6 tackles has him right up the top of my breakout contenders, and at 380k up forward we should at least have him on the watchlist. Mundy strolled around and collected 27 touches and 89 points in 68% game time. Not sure he will lift his average enough to warrant selection.

In other news from the game, you’ll be shocked to hear that Gumbleton has once again done his hammy. May this serve as a warning to all Higgins suitors. No other notable injuries were sustained.

There was a lot to learn in the ruck department, however there won’t be many big re-shuffles elsewhere. Lyon remains a fantasy wildcard, and without any form of confidence in him I would be getting a 10-foot pole and avoiding most Dockers with it. Keep an eye out for the last few pre-season reviews of NAB’s 18 games in 18 days, the boys are doing a great job!



  1. James Stocker

    February 27, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I completely disagree with avoiding Fremantle. They have some out and out guns and some players who will break out this season – Barlow, Fyfe, Sandilands, Mayne and Walters to name a few. I realise he will rest some players on Melbourne trips towards the business end – that’s why i will be keeping trades up my sleeve.

    • Matt

      February 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      I said most! Mayne?

  2. James Stocker

    February 27, 2014 at 8:34 am

    And I’m willing to take a risk on Jackson Macrae.

  3. Henry

    February 27, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Like your work Matt, but I think you were a bit tough on Macrae. His first outing was 92 from 75%. A 2 game average of 110.5 from 74.5%gt is as compelling a case as anyone across the comp has made. Definitely worth a look.

    • If the Shuey Fits

      February 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Agreed. With the same bye rd as Daisy, being slightly cheaper and no injury cloud hanging over him he may provide that mid priced alternative in the midfield.

    • Matt

      February 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      I know and they are great stats, but you have to think his midfield time might get reduced when Griffin returns? What are you guys hoping him to average? I think to take a gamble at that price you’d want to him get up towards 90, and there are very few 19 year olds to ever do that. I can see him averaging low 80’s if all goes well, but just can’t take the plunge without seeing Griffen in the team. Happy to be proven wrong

      • james_10

        February 27, 2014 at 5:53 pm

        So you can see him averaging 85 but not 90??

        That’s only a tackle and a free kick a game, not hard to do..

        You write good articles mate, but some things you come out with just don’t make sense

        • Matt

          February 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm

          Haha, I can definitely over complicate things… I think you’ll find there’s a big difference though, should probably make it low 80’s and you get my point. To keep it simple, I wouldn’t pick Macrae!

          • james_10

            February 27, 2014 at 6:43 pm

            Yeah fair call mate haha! I’m thinking of taking a punt on him but feel he could be pushed out to a wing/half back when Griff returns!

  4. Mick

    February 27, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Top write up Matt. I’m a bit left blank now who I can put in as F8, as like yourself and assuming many readers, were disappointed with Honeychurch. Also doesn’t help that Kerstan hasn’t played a game, I’m assuming still due to his back injury, and Melbournes JKH was left out of the squad. I would go Rohan but have buddy and Mitchell in the foreward line.

    • Matt

      February 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Cheers Mick, it’s tough going for rookies this pre-season, so much potential yet no first years have really stood out. Kersten’s back is frustrating, and I didn’t realise JKH was left out. Still happy to back him in, but he’ll need to play Melbourne’s next game. Rohan is a safe F8 regardless.

  5. johnny fontane

    February 27, 2014 at 9:44 am

    macrae was very good last week too. he’s a high draft pick so you know WB will give him every chance to show what he can do. he’s never gonna even get close to a tag. this years wingard in dt terms.

    • Matt

      February 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      He is indeed a great talent, but Wingard is a special player. Once again I would love to see what he can do with Griffen in the side, if he plays Round 1 and Macrae still smashes it then I’m seriously considering! To make 100k he has to average almost 85, so the pressure is right on.

  6. samdiatmh

    February 27, 2014 at 10:30 am

    going the same mentality as you with Sandi as R3 (HMac R2), but he’ll be damn tempting to play if he keeps knocking those out

    as the F8 looks a bit worrying, I’ve currently got Thurlow there to swap when either of those 2 get injured (was hoping to switch with Tex, but recent reports kinda put that to shame)

    was also considering Duffield, but no overly convinced, so may look elsewhere (a lovely DEF/FWD that plays for the Dees might get a start witha good performance)

    Higgins also looks tempting, but RDT with limited trades -ahhhhh

    • Matt

      February 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Hopefully one pops up for F8, however I’m getting a feeling it may have to sit and wait until Round 3 or 4. Guys like Bock to come back and save the day. I’m looking at picking both Hmac and Sandi as well, surely both can’t go down!

  7. Drew Davey

    February 27, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Sandi as R3? the risk of not playing him while their is 230,000 sitting on your bench is ridiculous, he is going to be one of the best Ruckman this year, you can’t assume that he will get injured, I’d rather bite the bullet and play him than having to look at an expensive bench option, thurlow/Naismith/Curry are all great bench options, (two for the price of sandi)Sandilands shouldn’t even be seen as a cash cow if he plays most games without being injured or subbed.

    • samdiatmh

      February 27, 2014 at 11:22 am

      highly doubt that Naismith will get a game
      also Currie’s scoring rate is woeful, but then I’m not expecting much as a second ruckman for a club (NicNat aside)
      and Thurlow will onl;y play till Bellchambers is out, and he’s sitting on my FWD bench incase of injury (which still leaves me with 2 recognised ruckman if one does get injured)

      and is it any more ridiculous than the likes of Longer? (who many people were considering, is only 10k less than Sandi in RDT)

      • Hook

        February 27, 2014 at 1:58 pm

        The lack of an r3 has changed my strategy this year. There is no way I want to have Sandi sitting on my bench at 270k, same with Longer/Hickey/Macintosh. Too much money and scoring ability wasted on the bench imo.

        Theres not a lot of good forward rookies either so my plan will be to play Hale in the fwd line (instead of having an expensive r3) Might do well without Buddy anyway. Then have Thurlow as r4. That way If Sandi or McIntosh/Hickey get injured I have a reliable r3 to swing in and I dont have the massive $ sitting on the bench. It means I have an extra fwd MP than I wanted but it is still better then having the $ on the bench and replaces one of the dodgy Rohan/Blease/Lamb chumps that currently take up my last two fwd spots. Pity there is not any better fwd/rucks tho

        • Drew Davey

          February 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm

          Hook you are a champion, nice strategy! were you the bloke that won last year?

          • Hook

            February 27, 2014 at 2:49 pm

            yeah mate

        • If the Shuey Fits

          February 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm

          What about holding onto 20k in the bank and trade in Hickey if Sandi goes down? I think Hickey is a bit over 30k more expensive in Fantasy but Sandi should close that gap in just a few rounds you would expect.

          • Hook

            February 27, 2014 at 3:04 pm

            Could do.

            It’s Probably a good idea in fantasy but RDT with limited trades might be a waste of a trade. Especially if its just a one week rest it would suck to have to trade him out.

        • Clint

          February 27, 2014 at 3:22 pm

          Was having similar thoughts, nice when last years champ comes up with similar ideas! Currently have HMac and Sandi as my starting rucks and was looking through Ruck/Fwd options to slot in…

          Hale the obvious, Dixon overpiced given runs hot and cold… was briefly tempted by the Crows McKernan given his 77 the other day and cheaper than Hale… and might get some game time til Walker comes back… will watch in their final practice game but even though cheaper than Hale, prob worh the extra cash for the guaranteed starter and solid scorer

    • johnny fontane

      February 27, 2014 at 11:33 am

      he said he has limited trades so it’s not easy to take out a cheaper player, and rob peter to pay for a better ruckman. that’s 2-3 valuable trades that could be avoided. risk management.

    • Matt

      February 27, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      Fair point, but I don’t think Currie/Naismith/Thurlow will get any game time come the real stuff, which would leave you with no back-up for a man who hasn’t played over 13 games since 2010 and is now 31. I’m just not willing to take that risk, things change if we get a reliable rookie!

      • Drew Davey

        February 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

        Yeah Matt I understand what you’re saying, but for a gun ruckman like Sandilands you just have to bite the bullet, and because I’m playing Fantasy, trades don’t scare me as much as “RDT”, but hopefully Sandilands can play a decent amount of games or atleast make decent cash before he get’s turf toe again haha!

  8. Kirk Mackintosh

    February 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I am glad i have Sandi on the field. I am worried about my rucks i went Lobbe to Minson and now Minson flops. Maybe against Sandi only we will soon see.

    Had Pav locked and loaded from the get go glad i had him

  9. colesy

    February 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Nice write up, lots of valuable information.

    Im actually locking Boyd in as a POD. Has a good bye round and has averaged over 110 past 3 of 4 years. Centrebet has him down on pretty short odds to get most points in a DT season too, so cant be that bad!

  10. roxredsox

    February 28, 2014 at 1:18 am


    • roxredsox

      February 28, 2014 at 1:20 am


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