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Match preview: Collingwood v Western Bulldogs

Pick a Winner: Coll v WB Duck and Browny preview the Magpies v Bulldogs
AFL 2017 JLT Community Series - Western Bulldogs v Melbourne
A Dogs debut against his old club will be huge for Travis Cloke

As much as the Bulldogs insist they are as hungry as ever after their phenomenal premiership, it'll be interesting to gauge their motivation levels in what should be an entertaining clash between what Champion Data rates as two of the top-three midfields in the AFL. Adding further edge to the contest, it will be new Bulldogs forward Travis Cloke's first game against his former club. The Dogs will also be excited by the inclusion of skipper Bob Murphy after a knee reconstruction and forward Stewart Crameri after a season-long doping suspension. Meanwhile, the Pies are desperate for an early scalp after missing the finals in each of the past three seasons and will welcome some newcomers of their own, the candidates including ex-Docker Chris Mayne, former Giant Will Hoskin-Elliott, ex-Demon Lynden Dunn and former Sun Henry Schade. 

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Friday, March 24, 7.50pm AEDT 

TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

R21, 2016, Western Bulldogs 14.11 (95) d Collingwood 14.8 (92) at Etihad Stadium
R10, 2016, Western Bulldogs 11.8 (74) d Collingwood 7.11 (53) at the MCG
R17, 2015, Western Bulldogs 15.14 (104) d Collingwood 13.8 (86) at Etihad Stadium
R13, 2014, Western Bulldogs 16.10 (106) d Collingwood 15.8 (98) at Etihad Stadium
R12, 2013, Collingwood 15.9 (99) d Western Bulldogs 9.11 (65) at Etihad Stadium 

1. The Bulldogs have the chance to win five in a row against the Magpies for the first time since 1946. The first of their current four successive wins ended a Collingwood streak of six victories.

2. The Bulldogs were last year undefeated in four games at the MCG, including the Grand Final, while Collingwood won just six of 14 games – the first time since 2005 the Pies finished with more losses than wins in a season on the hallowed turf.

3. The Pies ran the Bulldogs close twice last year, leading at three-quarter time in round 10 before being crippled by injuries, and holding a three-goal advantage in the third term before succumbing by three points in round 21.

4. No team had more disposals last year than the Bulldogs, who averaged 412 a game – the only team to average more than 400. They also ranked No. 1 for uncontested possessions with 149.7 a game.

5. Collingwood was the No. 1 tackling side last year, averaging 78 a game while, surprisingly, the Bulldogs were 13th. Adam Treloar was the Pies' leading tackler with 139, equal 12th in the AFL. 

6. The Bulldogs' renowned team ethic is evidenced by the fact they have just two players (Marcus Bontempelli at No. 5 and Jake Stringer at 35) in the top 50 in the Official AFL Player Ratings, while the lower-ranked Pies have three (Scott Pendlebury at No. 4, Adam Treloar at 18 and Steele Sidebottom at 49).

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Travis Cloke
The footy gods work in mysterious ways, with the 30-year-old's first game for his new club just happening to be against his old club, which basically threw him on the scrapheap at the end of last year. As a Pie, Cloke kicked 441 goals in 246 games and won a flag, a best and fairest and two All Australian selections, and Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge believes the big left-footer – who has streamlined his physique considerably – still has plenty of good footy left in him. Here's his first chance to show it in front of a packed house at the MCG. 

PREDICTION: Western Bulldogs by 15 points


2017 AFL Tipping

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