Essendon vs Hawthorn
Danger game for Essendon with Hawthorn in scintillating form. Last week’s 47-point win over Collingwood – still without Luke Hodge and no Lance Franklin – showed just how dangerous the Hawks are at the moment.
Meanwhile on Friday night the vagaries of season 2012 continued with Geelong beating the Bombers by 67 points. Essendon won the corresponding fixture last year, when the Cats were undefeated, not in something of a slump.
Hodge is rumoured to return to the Hawks team this week but it won’t be a big celebration as they are tracking well enough without him. Must-win game for the Bombers, who could slip to seventh if they lose, but hard to see them getting up.
Hawthorn by 34
SC – Jobe Watson (Ess), Luke Hodge (Haw)
Geelong vs Adelaide
Crucial game for Geelong, who rebounded from their ugly loss to Collingwood by belting Essendon. It wasn’t so much that they won that surprised people – though this tipster – a Cats fan – tipped the Bombers with confidence – it was the margin.
You would have to say that Geelong winning the premiership from would be unlikely, but if they can run into some hot form over the final few rounds you never know what could happen.
Adelaide dominated the Cats earlier in the year at AAMI Stadium but travelling to Kardinia Park is a tough ask for any team. Expect the Crows forward line to have their impact lessened with one end being reconstructed.
Geelong by 27
SC – Steve Johnson (Geel), Scott Thompson (Adel)
North Melbourne vs Melbourne
What a turnaround North Melbourne has made.
After being destroyed by Hawthorn and capitulating to Port Adelaide and almost to Brisbane, the Kangaroos have all of a sudden come good and are posing a dangerous threat at the right time.
This is terrible news for Melbourne, who are just waiting for the season to end. They have two wins from 16 games, and were embarrassing in losing to Port by 28 points in Darwin last weekend.
Drew Petrie has kicked 14 goals in the past two games to become one of the competition’s premier forwards. He will be licking his lips, as the Demons backline won’t pose more of a threat than Carlton’s or Richmond’s.
North Melbourne by 40
SC – Drew Petrie (NM), Nathan Jones (Melb)
Greater Western Sydney vs Collingwood
About halfway through this season, we were vilifying Gold Coast, observing how much worse they were than Greater Western Sydney. But what we have quickly forgotten is that the Suns won three games in their first season; the Giants are limping to the line.
A 95-point loss to Fremantle last week has taken to 548 the total points GWS have lost their past five games by. They’re out of legs, which has hampered their ability to remain competitive.
Collingwood slipped to fourth on the ladder following their 47-point loss to Hawthorn. What’s troubling them most is their forwards. Dane Swan racked up 49 touches with ease while Dayne Beams was sensational. But Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes aren’t firing at all. Maybe this week.
Collingwood by 110
SC – Tom Scully (GWS), Dane Swan (Coll)
Carlton vs Richmond
It was all looking so rosy for these two teams a month or so ago. But they are now 11th and 12th respectively, and two games out of the eight. It’s not curtains just yet, but with North Melbourne, Fremantle and St Kilda currently fighting for eighth spot, it’s not looking too good.
Carlton eventually got up over the Western Bulldogs last week, but it was hardly impressive. Many pundits are thinking the Carltonof 2012 is reminiscent of the Geelong of 2006 – an unexpected annus horribilis ahead of a great season the next year.
The Tigers have broken fans hearts again, after such a promising mid-season. There will be no discarding of memberships, like in the bad old days of the noughties, but they need to show some fight over the final few weeks – it was there against North.
Richmond by 12
SC – Andrew Carrazzo (Carl), Dustin Martin (Rich)
Gold Coast vs Sydney
Gold Coast may only end season 2012 with a couple of wins, but there have been some positive signs over the past month. Aside from holding on to beat Richmond, they have been competitive against a few sides, and had they not kicked 18 behinds from 23 scoring shots last week, they would have beaten Brisbane.
Sydney, though, just continues to go from strength to strength. After knocking off West Coast in Perth, they overcame St Kilda at the SCG by 29 points to hold on to top spot, some 13.6% ahead ofAdelaide. Oddly enough, many pundits still aren’t convinced they can go all the way – despite a top two finish all but guaranteeing them a place in the grand final.
It’s not a matter of if here, it’s a matter of how much. Another percentage-booster for the Swans unless Gold Coast plays the best game of its season.
Sydney by 55
SC – Gary Ablett (GC), Ryan O’Keefe (Syd)
Port Adelaide vs Fremantle
Fremantle’s clash against Greater Western Sydney last week could not possibly have come at a better time. It allowed them to get a game clear on St Kilda and Richmond, and improved their percentage to 105.1.
One cannot easily tip them this weekend however. Notoriously unpredictable travellers, the Dockers cannot afford to let their guard down against a Port Adelaide side buoyed by its fifth win of the season.
If Fremantle is ever going to be able to brake the shackles of mediocrity, they need to start winning decisively games such as this.
Fremantle by 20
SC – Travis Boak (Port), Matthew Pavlich (Frem)
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs
Hugely important clash for St Kilda. Their loss to Sydney last week put them a game outside the eight, at a time when it seems Geelong may not drop out and North Melbourne and Fremantle are in good form.
Western Bulldogs were again gallant last week against Carlton but it’s not enough, and their season is drawing to a miserable close, with few winnable games left. The Doggies have shown glimpses of good football but will need all of it this weekend.
You have to wonder if there have been any chats in the St Kilda camp about a premiership. Twice in the past three years they have come so close to glory, and with their stars getting older, the window is slowly closing.
St Kilda by 40
SC – Brendon Goddard (St K), Matthew Boyd (WB)
West Coast vs Brisbane
Brisbane will head into this game with confidence, having knocked off West Coast at the Gabba in a result that surprised nearly everyone. And whilst a win is unlikely at Subiaco the Eagles are still hurt by injury and susceptible.
A 49-point loss to Adelaide last weekend hurt for West Coast. It dropped them to 11-5, meaning they are now a game out of the top four, and further from a home qualifying/preliminary final.
Brisbane, odd as it may seem, has the opportunity to overtake Richmond this weekend. Both sides are 7-9, though Richmond’s percentage is far superior. 12th would be a good result for the Lions this season but hard to see them winning here.
West Coast by 42
SC – Matt Priddis (WC), Jonathan Brown (Bris)
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