Geelong vs Essendon
Huge match for both teams here. Geelong’s loss to Collingwood last Saturday night was somewhat lessened after quarter time; but the result was already a formality with the Pies kicking eight goals to two in the first term.
Essendon’s victory against Port Adelaide put them back on the right track, and while they are sixth, they are still only a win and significant percentage off top spot of the ladder.
A win here for the Bombers could potentially put them back in the top four, depending on results, and a loss for the Cats will drop them back to the chasing pack, possibly out of the top eight and finals contention.
Essendon by 12
SC – James Kelly (Geel), Brent Stanton (Ess)
Collingwood vs Hawthorn
This should be an epic game of football. Hawthorn finally moved into the top four with their 72-point smashing of the Western Bulldogs. More importantly, they boosted their percentage to 157, nine per cent greater than the next best, Sydney.
Collingwood continue to impress, and their emphatic win over Geelong on Friday night was one of their best of the season. They should be concerned with their percentage however. At 121.6 it is by far the worst in the top six.
In such an even season – Sydney, West Coast, Adelaide, Collingwood and Essendon all seem to have been inseparable for weeks and now Hawthorn have joined them – percentage will make a massive difference come season’s end.
Hawthorn by 15
SC – Dayne Beams (Coll), Sam Mitchell (Haw)
Adelaide vs West Coast
A clash of high importance in Adelaide on Saturday afternoon. West Coast’s 52-point loss toSydney– at home – was disastrous. Their horror run with injuries finally caught up with them and they fielded possibly their weakest side for the year.
Such is the evenness of the competition the loss dropped them out of the top four for the first time this season. The Eagles need to reassert themselves quickly or else face losing an easy path to a home preliminary final.
No such problems atAdelaide, who monstered Greater Western Sydney by 119 points at Skoda Stadium last week. The real good sides beat up on the poor ones, and the big victory away from home will give them supreme confidence this week.
Adelaide by 33
SC – Kurt Tippett (Adel), Dean Cox (WC)
Gold Coast vs Brisbane
What a sight at Cazaly Stadium last Saturday night when Gold Coast finally shook off their last quarter blues to snatch their first win of the year over Richmond. Karmichael Hunt’s goal after the siren was one of the great football moments of the season.
And while Richmond has generally played better football than Brisbane this season, this match will be a much tougher prospect for the Suns, who broke their 21-game losing streak.
The Lions have looked better with every passing week and Michael Voss was suitably impressed with their performance against St Kilda last week. Aside from the regular contributors they have unveiled a wealth of talented young kids.
Brisbane by 26
SC – Gary Ablett (GC), Dayne Zorko (Bris)
Western Bulldogs vs Carlton
It’s really quite hard to believe the way Carlton’s season has fallen apart. We all remember Brett Ratten’s “top four or it’s a failure” proclamation at the start of the season but now they are a game more than 15 percent out of the eight.
Things are also going from bad to worse for the Western Bulldogs. Aside from the bottom three they have the worst percentage in the league and were never in the contest against a rampaging Hawthorn last week.
The Bulldogs will head into this contest confident after the Blues’ utter capitulation against North Melbourne, and they will also be buoyed by Chris Judd’s absence. They will smell blood and if they win they will only be a game behind them, but Carlton should bounce back. Hate to imagine what will happen to the Blues if they don’t.
Carlton by 25
SC – Matthew Boyd (WB), Marc Murphy (Carl)
Melbourne vs Port Adelaide
Another sold home game that could end up proving costly for the home side. If this game were to be played in Melbourne, you’d happily tip the Demons but the fact it is up in Darwin throws the result up in the air. Port Adelaide has traditionally played well at the venue.
Melbourne was leading Fremantle for quite a period of the game last week but weren’t able to run it out, resulting in another frustrating loss for the Demons. The Power was gallant at home against Essendon but was always going to fall behind.
With only six rounds of competition left after this round the Demons will be determined to try and get themselves out of the bottom four. They need to start well, control Port’s rising midfield and finish strongly.
Melbourne by 14
SC – Jack Trengove (Melb), Hamish Hartlett (Port)
Sydney vs St Kilda
Another tantalising opportunity for Sydney. Whilst they won’t go a game clear on the top of the ladder unless West Coast and Hawthorn can knock off Adelaide and Collingwood respectively, they have a terrific percentage and can nail down top spot.
They need to be worried about Hawthorn now though. The Hawks are going to be ruthless in the final two months of the home and away season. St Kilda fought bravely on against a tough Brisbane outfit last week to get a win that put them into eighth place – their percentage of 120.8 is also healthy compared to the clubs around them which will hold them in good stead come finals time.
The Swans have been great all year aside from a few head-scratching last quarter fade-outs and provided they start well again should beat the Saints here.
Sydney by 30
SC – Shane Mumford (Syd), Nick Riewoldt (St K)
Richmond vs North Melbourne
Last week’s two point loss to Gold Coast was catastrophic for Richmond at such a crucial point of the season. Weakened by Ivan Maric missing from the side, the Tigers looked a long way from the team that was so impressive mid-season.
The picture couldn’t have looked any different at North Melbourne, who has now won four or their past five since the huge loss to Hawthorn, the only loss being by two points against a determined, Dean Cox-inspired West Coast.
A few weeks ago this would have been a moral for the Tigers but the Kangaroos have leapfrogged them on the ladder and are pressing hard for seventh or eighth place on the ladder. If they are still in that rich vein of form they should win easily.
North Melbourne by 26
SC – Shaun Grigg (Rich), Brent Harvey (NM)
Fremantle vs Greater Western Sydney
This match couldn’t have come at a better possible time for Fremantle. They are 8-7 and equal on points with St Kilda the week the Saints are playing Sydney at theSCG. And withNorth Melbourneup against what will be a fired-up Richmond, the Dockers have every chance to jump into eighth spot.
Of particular concern to the Dockers is their percentage. At 97.6, it is the worst and the only one sub-100 in the top 12, which will prove costly come finals time. They will win this contest against an ailing GWS outfit, but they need to win big to assert themselves on the battle for eighth place.
The Giants have been gallant but recent results – they’ve lost their past four games by a whopping combined 453 points – show they are losing steam fast. Huge chance for Fremantle here.
Fremantle by 75
SC – Matthew Pavlich (Frem), James McDonald (GWS)
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