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Final look: Freo v GWS

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Read about some of the key stats and stories heading into Fremantle’s clash with GWS at UNSW Canberra Oval on Saturday.

Freo: Unchanged
GWS in: Toby Greene, Dawson Simpson, Ryan Griffen
GWS out: Rory Lobb, Harry Perryman, Josh Kelly

The ladder
GWS: 2-1, 135.2% (2nd)
Freo: 2-1, 97.8% (10th) 

It’s been a while
Saturday’s clash will be Fremantle’s first game in Canberra in 16 years and only the second in the club’s history. In 2002, Fremantle faced North Melbourne at the ground and fell short by a point in a thriller. The Giants have an impressive record at UNSW Canberra Oval, winning their past seven games at the ground.

Unfinished business
Fremantle will take some confidence from last time around with Freo giving GWS a scare in round 19, 2017.
Freo held a 15-point lead at three quarter time at Spotless Stadium but were overrun by the Giants in the final term in their 12-point loss.

A new place to recover
To refresh after Thursday night’s flight, Freo headed to the AIS where they shared the recovery facilities with NRL team the Canberra Raiders. All but one member of Freo’s starting 22 attended recovery, with Aaron Sandilands still en route to Canberra via Melbourne in business class to better aid the 211cm ruckman’s preparations. 

Sandi vs Simpson
With Rory Lobb a withdrawal from the Giants lineup through injury, GWS have called up Dawson Simpson to face Freo’s Aaron Sandilands. The Giants have opted to fight fire with fire, with the big-bodied Simpson standing just 1cm shorter than Sandilands at 210cm. The 109kg ruckman played two games in 2017, including one against Freo in round 19, where he collected 44 hitouts against Sean Darcy.

Banfield to tag, but who?
Freo faces a difficult task of limiting the GWS midfield but they hold a young ace in their pack in Bailey Banfield. The 20-year-old has shone as a tagger in the past fortnight and he has a number of options to go to including midfielders Stephen Coniglio, Callan Ward and Dylan Shiel, forward Toby Greene and Lachie Whitfield off half-back.
One name Banfield can cross off his list is GWS star Josh Kelly, with the midfielder a surprise omission due to a groin injury. 

Accurate Giants
GWS lead the league for scoring accuracy in 2018, averaging the most goals per game at 15.7 while sitting 15th for behinds with 7.7 per game.
Freo is 11th for goals per game with 12.7 and eighth for behinds with 10 per game.

Effective Freo
An off-season push to improve the club’s kicking is showing on the stats sheet, with Freo sitting fifth in the league for effective kicks per game at 152.7 and fifth for marks at 101.7 per game.
The Giants are fourth in the league in both categories but are also more likely to spray a kick than Fremantle, with GWS third in the competition for clanger kicks with 25 per game while Fremantle are 12th with 21.3.

Not the umpires’ pets
GWS has been the least disciplined team in the league according to the umpires, with the Giants giving away the most free kicks per game at 25.7 while earning the second-fewest free kicks with 17.7 per game. Jeremy Cameron is the worst culprit for GWS, leading the league with four free kicks against per game.

On the up
Fremantle is averaging almost three goals more per game in 2018, increasing the team’s scoring average from 73.0 in 2017 to 87.3 in 2018.
Fremantle is also conceding approximately nine points less per game, going from 98.2 points conceded per game in 2017 to 89.3 points conceded per game in 2018.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs