FN’s roving reporter DANIEL PAPROTH previews all the action in the AFL for Round 12. He also takes a look at who should be your last minute changes for your Dreamteam and Supercoach teams for this round.
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs, Friday 7:40, Etihad Stadium
Some have described this clash as an “elimination final in June”, and that is quite apt. If either of these sides, both among flag fancies for most pundits at the start of the season, are to finish in the finals then a strong win will be needed here.
The edge has to go to St Kilda, who have displayed some of the form that has seen them move late into September in the past few years in recent weeks, whereas the Bulldogs have looked down on form and spirit.
The emphatic win against Fremantle two weeks was as good as the Saints have looked this year. Anything can happen for them despite their poor start if their superstars can get fit and firing. Bulldogs fans just want a spirited performance.
St Kilda by 35
Supercoach – Brendon Goddard (St K), Ryan Griffen (WB)
Adelaide vs West Coast, Saturday 2:40, AAMI Stadium
Another depressing loss for Adelaide last week, they never led the match against North Melbourne. Neil Craig has been emphatically backed by the board, and the players will be determined to respond to the pressure.
They come up against a fired-up West Coast however, who came away with only an 18-point win at home against the fledgling Gold Coast. If the Eagles are to remain in strong contention for a good position in the eight they need to be at their efficient best.
The Eagles enjoy a relatively good record at AAMI, but did lose there to Port Adelaide in round two. If the Crows can pull themselves out of their slump they can post a victory, but it will be hard work.
West Coast by 13
Supercoach – Bernie Vince (Adel), Matt Priddis (WC)
Gold Coast vs North Melbourne, Saturday 7:10, Metricon Stadium
Many people are giving Gold Coast every chance of scoring their third win here – and they deserve that praise. Halfway through the season, the Suns have probably exceeded most people’s expectations.
North Melbourne are never easybeats however, and with Brent Harvey breaking the club’s games record this week with 312, and with tough on-baller Ryan Bastinac back in the side, they won’t be pushed over by the fleet-footed Suns.
This writer is yet to tip Gold Coast this season, and that won’t change this week. Expect a spirited performance from the Roos.
North Melbourne by 14
Supercoach – Michael Rischitelli (GC), Brent Harvey (NM)
Geelong vs Hawthorn, Saturday 7:10, MCG
It was only round five the last time these two teams met – a quirk of the draw that is hard to figure out. At any rate, it will be another huge clash, and again it is hard to accurately pick a winner.
Chris Scott last week equalled the record for most consecutive wins from debut for a rookie coach, but his men will be tested here, particularly if Lance Franklin, who is named in the side, plays.
If the Cats’ defenders can continue their hot streak of form – Matthew Scarlett was literally everywhere last week – then it will be an uphill battle for the Hawks. But they absolutely have the personnel and the form to snare a victory.
Geelong by 3
Supercoach – James Kelly (Geel), Cyril Rioli (Haw)
Carlton vs Brisbane, Sunday 1:10, Etihad Stadium
Few will give Brisbane much of a hope here. This has been Carlton’s best first half of a season since the 1995 premiership year – perhaps an ominous sign. Chris Judd and Marc Murphy are dominating week-in, week-out.
Brisbane were bitterly disappointing last week against Sydney. They could manage just two goals for the first half before winning the second, but by then it hardly mattered.
Blues fans have been waiting a long time for this return to the right end of the ladder, a return that a few years ago seemed a long, long way off. Good sides beat bad sides by big margins.
Carlton by 62
Supercoach – Andrew Walker (Carl), Daniel Rich (Bris)
Sydney vs Richmond, Sunday 2:10, SCG
Sydney’s fluctuating fortunes continued last week, with a mammoth 65-point win at the Gabba that few could have predicted. Richmond meanwhile finally got their bye, and unlike most other sides this year, it could benefit them, as some players were looking tired against Port Adelaide.
Yet again it was the experienced heads that led the way for the Swans, Adam Goodes, Ryan O’Keefe, and Jude Bolton. When they play well Sydney make a contest of most games.
A good chance for the Tigers to bounce back here, but expect the SCG to be just too tough an assignment.
Sydney by 21
Supercoach – Ryan O’Keefe (Syd), Brett Deledio (Rich)
Fremantle vs Essendon, Sunday 4:40, Patersons Stadium
Fremantle were better last week – until the final quarter. They blew a four-goal lead to lose by 22 points in downright frustrating scenes. Such is their desperation, Michael Barlow’s name has been floated, despite him only playing for Peel’s reserves in the WAFL.
Essendon’s fortunes too seem to have nosedived a little, with consecutive losses to Richmond and Melbourne dropping them to seventh place on the ladder.
The Dockers need the big man back – and Matthew Pavlich won’t miss two weeks in a row – but if the Saints can come to Perth and smash Freo, then the Bombers can too.
Essendon by 25
Supercoach – Matthew Pavlich (Frem), Andrew Lovett (Ess)
Melbourne vs Collingwood, Monday 2:10, MCG
With a number of Collingwood’s players off to Arizona for a mid-season fitness boost, and Dale Thomas sidelined through suspension, Melbourne are not without their chances. They will have gained significant confidence through their dismantling of Essendon last week.
Keeping Tom Scully is essential for the Demons – he was electric last week. A solitary point separated these sides in two games last year, but it will be a much tougher ask this time around.
Expect the Magpies to have too much class and depth across the ground to be troubled here.
Collingwood by 31
Supercoach – Tom Scully (Melb), Scott Pendlebury (Coll)