GWS has won just once in seven trips to Canberra. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Rohan Kelly/The Daily Telegraph
GWS v WESTERN BULLDOGS
Startrack Oval, Saturday April 12, 4:40pm (AEST)
Two of the best up-and-coming sides in the AFL going head-to-head, why wouldn't you watch? The Bulldogs finished last year with a bang and showed they could be real contenders this season, while the Giants have already won twice, with their opening-round win over the Swans one of the season's great moments. Last time they played, the Dogs only won by four points in a dramatic final term and one imagines GWS will be looking for payback now. This shapes as a genuinely thrilling match and a preview to many quality clashes between the sides to come.
- The Bulldogs have suffered a big blow ahead of this encounter, losing Jordan Roughead for at least two months as he has surgery on his AC Joint.
- Coming up against his old side, GWS skipper Callan Ward has done it tough, averaging just 18 and 14 possessions. That's a far cry from the 29 possessions he's averaged in three games so far for 2014.
- Devon Smith will miss this week for the Giants through suspension but GWS may have a handy replacement in the wings in Lachie Whitfield, who could return from injury if he gets through training.
- Jon Patton had 28 defensive acts in the Giants win over Melbourne.
- Giants coach Leon Cameron remains a life member of the Dogs after his playing heroics there.
- Dogs coach Brendan McCartney read the riot act to his side after their loss to North Melbourne in Round 2 and they responded with last week's explosive first half against Richmond. McCartney will be looking for that intensity to continue this week.
For the first time since joining the competition, GWS coach Leon Cameron has been asked about his side's finals prospects!
Last 5 games (includes 2013 season)
L 121 Richmond
L 83 Gold Coast
W 32 Sydney
L 7 St Kilda
W 32 Melbourne
L 7 Brisbane
W 20 Melbourne
L 65 West Coast
L 29 North Melbourne
W 2 Richmond
Giants midfielder Adam Treloar may even be a smokey for the Brownlow as he picked up 33 possessions and laid 14 tackles last week. Jack Macrae's 30 possessions and a goal were more than handy for the Dogs as well.
Cold hard fact
The Giants have the stats on their side in terms of averages so far this season compared to the Dogs. The Giants average more clearances (51-40), inside-50s (54-41), contested possessions (158-125) and tackles (91-70). It's no wonder the Dogs are bracing for a tough day at the office.
Despite the stats, the gut says it's the Doggies that are going to take this one. The Western Bulldogs have been building their game for two years and while they weren't at their best in the first two rounds, it all clicked in the first half against Richmond last week. This will still be ferocious and close, however, but it's the Bulldogs by 10 points.
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