Adelaide vs Essendon, Friday 8:40, AAMI Stadium
It was Richmond that started Essendon’s “downfall”, and despite a period last week where they appeared well on top, they failed to hold off the rampaging Bombers, who ran out comfortable winners and they have looked much better in the past fortnight.
The Crows will be refreshed from their bye last week but one has to wonder if it came at a bad time – they finally got their fourth win against Sydney the week previous.
Adelaide won this corresponding match by 84 points last year, but it is very hard to see the result reflecting that, let alone Adelaide winning. James Hird has his men back on track, it appears, and they deserve to be favourites.
Essendon by 25
Supercoach – Bernie Vince (Adel), Angus Monfries (Ess)
Richmond vs Gold Coast, Saturday 2:10, Cazaly Stadium, Cairns
Plenty of people giving Gold Coast a chance here in a rare AFL exhibition in far north Queensland. They have regularly been competitive for a half of football before dropping off, and will need to be at their absolute best for four quarters to knock off Richmond.
Tigers supporters continue to be frustrated by their side’s continued fluctuating results. It’s obvious they have plenty of talent on the park but some heavy losses has tested the resolve off the AFL’s most committed fan base.
What has been most worrying for the Tigers has been Dustin Martin’s form dip; he has averaged just 63 Supercoach points in the past three games. Expect they yellow and black to get up, but don’t discount the Suns, particularly with Ablett still in the side.
Richmond by 16
Supercoach – Trent Cotchin (Rich), David Swallow (GC)
Carlton vs Collingwood, Saturday 2:10, MCG
A traditional Saturday afternoon clash at the ‘G showcasing the longest and most genuine rivalry in the league’s history. Carlton were gallant when these two sides met in round three; they lost by 28 but had only one bad quarter.
The rest of the competition all took collective, worried gulps when they smashed North Melbourne to the tune of 20 goals last week and the Blues’ recent form struggles will have them nervous. If the Malthouse-Buckley coaching saga is worrying the players, they certainly aren’t letting on out on the field.
Hard to find deficiencies in the Magpies outfit and a lot of this game will rest on how well Carlton puts up a fight.
Collingwood by 40
Supercoach – Mitch Robinson (Carl), Scott Pendlebury (Coll)
St Kilda vs West Coast, Saturday 7:10, Etihad Stadium
The toughest match to pick this round. Both sides had huge wins last week – though the significance of West Coast’s was much greater – and that the Eagles beat Carlton in Melbourne a few weeks ago gives them a huge chance to slide into the top four.
The good news for St Kilda is more of their players are finding form. Nick Dal Santo has averaged 149 points in the past month, and Ben McEvoy 139. This will be perhaps the most important game of the year for both McEvoy, as he comes up against the Cox/Naitanui powerhouse, and the club, who are still pushing for finals.
A result that could go either way, but West Coast might just get over the line, given their recent form is scintillating.
West Coast by 7
Supercoach – Jason Gram (St K), Dean Cox (WC)
Melbourne vs Port Adelaide, Saturday 8:40, TIO Stadium, Darwin
Another sold home game for a Melbourne club and Port Adelaide will come in to this game with plenty of confidence given they beat Richmond at this venue earlier in the year, and they lost by just a point in this game last year.
The Power however were awful last week against St Kilda, and aside from a few kids there hasn’t been much to get excited about for fans. This is in direct contrast with the Demons who, despite a number of destroying losses, remain in contention for finals.
Addam Maric and Luke Tapscott both return to the side this week for Melbourne and while they will be tested they have more than enough talent to win.
Melbourne by 22
Supercoach – Mark Jamar (Melb), Kane Cornes (Port)
Sydney vs Fremantle, Sunday 1:10, SCG
Hugely important game for both sides. Sydney sits two points above Fremantle on the ladder but both have eight wins and are in danger of falling out of finals contention with Essendon, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and St Kilda hot on their heels.
The Dockers have welcomed back Kepler Bradley, Adam McPhee and Michael Barlow in an extended squad, but their struggles away from home have hurt them significantly and the Swans have been largely good at the SCG this season.
Sydney pummelled Gold Coast last week and though the Dockers had the bye should record a strong victory.
Sydney by 30
Supercoach – Kieren Jack (Syd), Jonathon Griffin (Frem)
Brisbane vs Geelong, Sunday 2:10, Gabba
Brisbane were better patches last week against Hawthorn, and most pleasing for Lions fans was a return to form for Jonathon Brown, who had 110 points and three goals. But Geelong will be up and about in this game after two consecutive losses.
The past two weeks have shown that sides can really hurt they Cats if they maintain possession. Essendon adopted its keepings-off style, and West Coast slammed home nine straight goals before the Cats almost stole it.
The good signs for Cats fans have been their comebacks at the death; they could have beaten both the Bombers and the Eagles, though they didn’t deserve to, and that will hold them in good stead. Welcoming back Joel Selwood, they shouldn’t be troubled here.
Geelong by 45
Supercoach – Andrew Raines (Bris), Joel Selwood (Geel)
North Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs, Sunday 4:40, Etihad Stadium
Expect a steely resolve from North Melbourne this week as they set about atoning for the horrific loss to Collingwood last week. Coach Brad Scott admitted they were nowhere near the level of the competition’s better sides, and what a few weeks ago seemed like a very winnable game against the Bulldogs becomes a lot tougher to pick.
Remarkably, after such a poor start to the season, the Bulldogs now sit ninth with seven wins and are playing their absolute best football in the face of critics. Last week’s 27-point win over Carlton was rightly described as their best, and they will prove a handful to most sides if this form continues.
With the Bulldogs midfield up and running again, Ryan Griffen, Adam Cooney, Matthew Boyd and others dominating and Daniel Giansircusa kicking goals from everywhere, the Kangaroos might find themselves well out of the finals race.
Bulldogs by 32
Supercoach – Daniel Wells (NM), Ryan Griffen (WB)