KEY MATCH-UPS FOR 1ST AFL QUALIFYING FINAL BETWEEN FREMANTLE AND SYDNEY
* Aaron Sandilands and Zac Clarke (Dockers) v Mike Pyke and Kurt Tippett (Swans)
Sandilands would have been left stunned after being snubbed from the preliminary 40-man All-Australian squad. The Dockers giant has averaged a whopping 43.5 taps per game this season, and Fremantle will rely heavily on him, given Clarke’s horrible form of late. Pyke was struggling badly with a knee complaint last month, but he seems to have regained his mojo in the lead-up to the finals. Tippett looms as a potential match-winner for the Swans, with his ability to score a big bag of goals set to be crucial to Sydney’s chances of winning.
* Sam Reid (Swans) v Luke McPharlin/Zac Dawson (Dockers)
With Lance Franklin missing from the forward line, a huge responsibility now lies on the shoulders of swingman Reid. The 23-year-old has booted just 15 goals in 21 games this season, but nine of those majors have come in the past four games. If the Swans are to win, they will likely need a big return from Reid. Dawson is a spoiling machine who is likely to spend considerable time on Reid. McPharlin, whose rebound from defence will be crucial for the Dockers, is also a candidate.
* Nat Fyfe (Dockers) v Josh Kennedy (Swans)
These two players won’t necessarily go head-to-head, but the impact they have for their respective sides will go a long way towards deciding the result. Fyfe has struggled since copping a knee to the thigh in round 15. Groin and leg injuries mean the Brownlow Medal favourite has played only twice in the past six weeks – potentially leaving him short on touch heading into Saturday’s blockbuster. Kennedy hasn’t dipped below 30 disposals in his past 10 games and has averaged a goal per game during that stretch.