Two popular picks to climb up the ladder in 2021 collide in an intriguing opening round clash as Melbourne hosts Fremantle at the MCG.
The Demons (9-8, 107.8% last year) arguably should’ve played finals last year but an awful five days in Cairns, which included upset losses to these Dockers and the Swans, cost them a spot in the top eight. Coach Simon Goodwin is under pressure to claim one in 2021.
The Dockers (7-10, 93.7% last year) impressed in their first year under coach Justin Longmuir, including some big improvement in the second half of the season. The main question is simply whether they can score enough to end their five-year finals drought.
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For the 2021 season, both teams will name 23 players, with the 23rd being the medical substitute. That player, who comes from the four listed emergencies, can be brought into the game mid-match if a player is deemed medically unfit to continue by the club doctor.
This game gets underway at 1:45pm AEDT at the MCG.
Watch live on Fox Footy (channel 504), or streaming on Kayo, from 1:30pm AEDT.
Follow Melbourne v Fremantle in our live blog below!
Veteran AFL journalist Caroline Wilson has yet again come under fire for pushing an agenda over plans for a team in Tasmania.
Wilson wrote a column in The Age, explaining how it was appearing more likely an AFL team would be forced to relocate rather than a brand-new side coming into the competition in Tasmania.
Two-time premiership Roo David King weighed in on the matter in Fox Footy’s Wreck It Ralph.
“Are you sick of the people from the cheap seats with their clickbait headlines talking about relocating? We‘ve had two relocation stories, two merger stories in the last year alone,” Herald Sun AFL reporter Jon Ralph asked.
When pressed by Garry Lyon where the clickbait was coming from, Ralph said “The clickbait always comes from Caroline Wilson and she‘s written multiple stories about that. This is a club with 10 consecutive profits, this is a club that has built itself up with elite facilities … to me it’s extremely frustrating but it’s not about me, it’s about a shinboner and a premiership player (Kingy).”
King explained he was frustrated by the continued linking of the club despite a firm stance.
“It‘s the same story every year. Unless it comes from the Kangaroos and unless they decide to change tact, which they keep saying every year at this same stage we’re going nowhere,” he said.
“I don‘t know why it has changed.”
On Friday the AFL formally announced former Geelong president Colin Carter would review a business case for a 19th license in Tasmania.
Carter will complete his review of the Taskforce submission by mid-year, but it won’t be considered by the AFL Commission until the end of the season when there was a clearer picture of any COVID-19 impacts.
Skipper Max Gawn says Melbourne’s pre-season has been fuelled in part by anger after his side’s near finals miss last year. “Ninth’s the worst spot to finish on the ladder,” Gawn said. “You leave with a horrible taste in your mouth.” With that in mind, expect the Demons to hit the ground running against the young and inexperienced Dockers.
In a twist of fate, last year Melbourne needed Fremantle to beat the Western Bulldogs on the final weekend of the regular season for the Dees to make the finals. It never happened and the Dees start from scratch again.
When is Melbourne Demons vs Fremantle Dockers?
Melbourne vs Fremantle gets underway at 1:45pm AEDT at the MCG in Melbourne on Saturday 20 March.
How to watch Melbourne vs Fremantle
Channel 7 and Foxtel have rights to broadcast AFL matches in Australia this season and it varies from state to state. In Western Australia, you can watch the Dockers on free-to-air on Channel 7. If you are anywhere else in the country, including Victoria, you can only access it on Fox Footy.
That means Foxtel iQ, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports are your options outside WA for this round one clash. For access to every game in every round in 2021, you need Foxtel or Kayo Sports. There is also Watch AFL if you are overseas. We have a full guide to the AFL season here.
Stream Demons vs Dockers on Kayo Sports
You can watch Melbourne vs Freo for free using Kayo’s 14-day free trial for new users. After the trial period, a Basic subscription is $25 a month to watch on two screens or $35 a month for a third screen. You can check it all out in our Kayo review.
Kayo also has a range of special features you won’t find anywhere else. SplitView, Interactive Stats, No Spoilers, Key Moments and more are among the options.
In total Kayo broadcasts more than 50 sports. It is compatible with Macs and PCs, plus iOS and Android devices, Chromecast, Apple TV, Android TV, Telstra TV, Sony Bravia TV and Samsung TV (2017 or later).
Melbourne vs Fremantle prediction
The Dees are clearly burning inside from narrowly missing out on the 2020 finals. They will be itching to start this year with a bang. We’ll know soon enough whether they have the talent and composure in big moments to make the finals for only the second time in 15 years.
The Dockers go into their season opener missing four starting players in big man Rory Lobb (knee), All-Australian forward Michael Walters (hamstring) and youngsters Bailey Banfield (ankle) and Mitch Crowden (calf). These key injuries will severely test Freo’s depth. We’ll lean towards the Demons to win at home.