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JLT storylines: Does pre-season form really matter?

Dinny Navaratnam and Nathan Schmook  February 16, 2017 7:00 AM

AFL 2017 Training - Western Bulldogs 070217

How will Travis Cloke go with the reigning premiers

AFTER the Western Bulldogs broke a 62-year premiership drought last year, the question is whether they can repeat the effort?

A look to the Dogs' form in the JLT Community Series could be an indicator of what to expect from them in the season proper, although then again, it might not. 

Essendon in 2000 and Geelong in 2009 were the two teams this millenium to win the pre-season competition/premiership double. In 2014, Hawthorn went undefeated in that pre-season competition before going on to defeat Sydney in the Grand Final. 

On the other hand, Geelong won the NAB Cup (as it was known then) in 2006 but finished 10th in the home and away season, while the Brisbane Lions were champions in 2013 but finished 12th. 

Carlton was the pre-season premier in 2005 and 2007 but finished last and second-last in those years.

The Dogs will face Melbourne, the Lions and Gold Coast in the next month.

Can Adelaide break its own record?
The highest score ever registered in the pre-season competition against a fellow AFL team was by Adelaide, which booted 27.21 (183) versus North Melbourne at Football Park in 1993. 

That's a tough mark to beat but if it was to happen, it makes sense that it would be when the side that finished No.1 in points scored last year comes up against the team that leaked the most points. 

It is a situation that will occur in the final week of the JLT Community Series, when Adelaide faces the Brisbane Lions at Hickinbotham Oval in South Australia.

Being the last match of the pre-season, both teams will want to field strong line-ups. While the Lions will look different under new coach Chris Fagan, they might struggle to contain the likes of Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins.

For the record, the highest ever score in a pre-season competition or night series was by Richmond, which booted 33.16 (214) against WAFL side Swan Districts in 1982. 

(Pre-season) games record holder
West Coast recruit Drew Petrie and Essendon veteran James Kelly have both played 34 career pre-season games to share the lead, when only considering current players.

It would take an extraordinary effort from either to break the all-time mark though – Brent Harvey with 46.

Harvey is also the games record holder, with 432. 

What we're looking forward to:
- Hawthorn and Geelong square off in a pre-season game for the first time since 1992, this year with a number of key storylines. Hawks skipper Jarryd Roughead returns from cancer treatment, Jaeger O'Meara plays his first game for the Hawks, and star Cat Patrick Dangerfield runs out for the first time as a Brownlow medallist.  

- New coach Simon Goodwin will again lead Melbourne in the pre-season competition, putting his stamp on his young team. After moving towards a more attacking style in 2016, what will the Demons look like this year under Goodwin?

- West Coast and Fremantle meet in the pre-season competition for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, this year in Geraldton on February 25. The Eagles hold the advantage 7-4 from 11 pre-season derbies and will likely unveil Sam Mitchell against the Dockers. 

- Competitive football returns to Arden Street for the first time since 1985, with North Melbourne to host Hawthorn on February 26. The nostalgic return to North Melbourne's former playing home is a sellout.

- Port Adelaide and Richmond square off 12 months after their last pre-season clash, which is best remembered for Damien Hardwick's attempt to call off the match early. After an overhaul in the coaching ranks and aggressive recruiting, the Tigers will be one of the team's to watch ahead of round one. 

- Football will return to Domain Stadium in week four of the JLT Community Series, with West Coast hosting Melbourne and Fremantle facing Carlton. The venue has an uncertain future beyond 2017 as construction of the new Perth Stadium accelerates.