The return, part one
‘Joe Dirt’ is back.
It’s been a long wait for Roarke Smith, who last wore the red, white and blue in Round 18 last year (which is over a year ago, now).
The man named after the famous movie character played by David Spade, for his tremendous flowing blonde locks, has earned his recall for the Bulldogs.
Smith is as honest as the day is long. He’s the ultimate professional, a model team-mate and he’ll leave nothing left in the tank.
Welcome back, Roarke.
2. The return, part two
Josh Dunkley is still only 23 years of age, but he’s already a blue-chip midfielder in the AFL.
The Bulldogs have fielded a strong midfield brigade in 2020, including the likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Bailey Smith and Tom Liberatore, but ‘Dunks’ has been missed.
Dunkley was cruelly hurt in the final seconds of the Round 3 win over GWS, and has missed the last six games.
Going by last year’s numbers, that’s an average of 28 disposals, six tackles and five clearances per game. It’ll be nice to have the number five back.
3. Remembering Adelaide Oval
When the bus squeaks to a stop on its arrival tonight, the sight of Adelaide Oval will hold no fears for the Bulldogs players.
It was the last time at that venue, against the same opponent, that the Dogs scored arguably their most important win of the 2019 season.
With a 5-9 record, they scrapped their way to a 25-point win in soggy conditions to kick-start a late-season run which ended with a spot in the top eight.
The Bulldogs have actually won two of their last three games at Adelaide Oval, including a thrilling three-point triumph in 2016.
4. Stopping the supply
It’s an easy thing to say that the midfield battle is crucial to the outcome of the game. But for the Dogs to win, their engine room will need to be on song.
Port has recorded the most inside 50s of any team in the competition after Round 9, and they’ve kicked the third most goals.
Charlie Dixon has benefited the most from that forward half dominance, kicking 17 majors so far this year. The big man has also kicked 13 in his last four games against the Bulldogs.
If they can limit the quality of Port’s entries, the Dogs’ in-form defence can neutralise the threat.