Hawthorn vs Geelong
This is shaping up to be a very interesting clash. Can Hawthorn break the hoodoo? They haven’t beaten Geelong since the 2008 grand final. We all thought it might have happened in round two this year but the Cats got over the line.
The difference here, of course, is that the Hawks are probably in better form than they were when they won that grand final four years ago. That they have been smashing sides without Lance Franklin and Luke Hodge speaks volumes about their form.
The Cats aren’t quite done yet though. Big wins over Essendon and Adelaide in the past fortnight have shown they still have the belief – and remarkably they not sit sixth, above the Bombers. This will be their toughest game of the year however.
Hawthorn by 9
SC – Luke Hodge (Haw), Jimmy Bartel (Geel)
Western Bulldogs vs North Melbourne
With the Western Bulldogs crappy draw meaning Dogs fans are just waiting for the season to end, hope in this contest seems relatively low. North Melbourne has a chance to solidify eighth position this week with Fremantle playing West Coast.
The Kangaroos have now won six of their past seven matches since the 115-point loss to Hawthorn, the only loss in that time coming against the Eagles, who got two points clear in junk time down in Tasmania.
Their midfield has taken a step and they have a man in Drew Petrie, currently fourth on the goalkicking table, who can kick bags like the best of them. The Dogs scored a win against North back in round seven but it’s tough to see them making it two from two here.
North Melbourne by 27
SC – Mitch Wallis (WB), Daniel Wells (NM)
Greater Western Sydney vs Port Adelaide
Luckily for these two teams, Gold Coast is playing Melbourne this weekend, which probably just eclipses this game for lack of interest. Greater Western Sydney now has the ignominious stat of having lost their past six games by a combined 668 points. They remain the only team in the competition not to have cracked the 1,000 points far mark and are haemorrhaging to the line.
Port Adelaide was very disappointing in losing to Fremantle at home last week in a fairly insipid game of football. It ensured they remained two games behind Richmond and Brisbane.
The Giants will fancy themselves more than they have in the past six games, particularly playing away from Adelaide, but should still lose.
Port Adelaide by 25
SC – Adam Treloar (GWS), Kane Cornes (Port)
Fremantle vs West Coast
West Coast has had the measure of Fremantle in the derbies in recent times and were clear favourites in their round nine clash earlier this year, which they won decisively by 48 points.
This time around though, the picture is a little less clear. West Coast has been crippled by injuries and has dropped to fifth on the table. Crucially they are now two games behind Sydney, and with Adelaide, Collingwood and Hawthorn all big chances to win this weekend, they might just be losing their grip on the top two.
The Dockers need to fight hard to make the finals. They’ve got North Melbourne in the spot at the moment and St Kilda and Carlton snapping at their heels just a game behind.
West Coast by 22
SC – Nathan Fyfe (Frem), Dean Cox (WC)
Collingwood vs St Kilda
Could this be the game where St Kilda’s finals chances are killed off? It sure seems that way. Should the Saints lose this game, and North Melbourne beat Western Bulldogs, which seems like a foregone conclusion, they will drop two games out of touch with the top eight.
Collingwood absolutely obliterated Greater Western Sydney last week. So far ahead did they get there were rumours the Collingwood boys were giving tips to GWS’ youngsters. Travis Cloke kicked six and whilst it was against lowly opposition it may have got his juices flowing again.
St Kilda will need to shut down the Magpies’ undeniable midfield to be any chance.
Collingwood by 26
SC – Dane Swan (Coll), Brendon Goddard (St K)
Brisbane vs Richmond
It seems cruel, doesn’t it? Richmond has had one of their best seasons in more than a decade, and yet they are still destined to miss the finals. What’s more is they won’t even rise to their cursed position of ninth.
It truly has been an all-round improvement though. Damien Hardwick’s biggest problem is that his young charges can’t finish off games. They’ve lost three consecutive games by less than a kick, and six games by less than two goals.
West Coast got its revenge on Brisbane last week with a 98-point victory evening out the two-point loss they suffered at the Gabba earlier this year. Lions need to regroup but will back themselves against the Tigers.
Brisbane by 10
SC – Simon Black (Bris), Dustin Martin (Rich)
Melbourne vs Gold Coast
Melbourne will head into this game as favourites for just the third time this year against the Gold Coast Suns, but as coach Mark Neeld intimated, they won’t head into it feeling supremely confident. Excepting two big losses to West Coast and Sydney the Suns have been much better over the past month.
The Demons 64-point loss to North Melbourne last week hurt and it has been a facet for Melbourne nearly all season – a lack of competitiveness. The Suns were even less competitive in getting smashed by Sydney.
This game is of very little consequence but both teams will be extremely keen to win. If the Suns get up there is a chance they can take 16th off the Demons before the year is out.
Melbourne by 23
SC – Jeremy Howe (Melb), Gary Ablett (GC)
Carlton vs Sydney
Just when it seemed like it was going to go from bad to worse for Carlton they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Richmond last week to get their ninth win of the season.
It will give them renewed confidence heading into this clash against Sydney, but the Swans know they can win home and away, and win strongly – that is why they hold a 14-3 record.
With such an even spread across the ground the Blues will have to be at their attacking, speedy best to match the Swans here, but with Sydney finding it easy to kick goals at the moment they could be in trouble.
Sydney by 34
SC – Marc Murphy (Carl), Adam Goodes (Syd)
Adelaide vs Essendon
Adelaide didn’t play its best of games against Geelong last week, but after getting beaten early the positive was that they fought back and got within two points. It’s that resolve, even if they ultimately lost, which will help them in September.
Essendon’s season reached nightmare levels last week following a 94-point loss to Hawthorn. No one could have predicted it, and the Bombers have now slumped to seventh, and their percentage has slipped to 113.3 – less than Geelong’s, something that seemed unfathomable for a while.
The Crows are nearly untouchable at home and will look at this game as an opportunity to boost their percentage – at 129.4 it’s better than Collingwood’s but well behind Sydney’s and Hawthorn’s and could be telling come the final rounds.
Adelaide by 34
SC – Patrick Dangerfield (Adel), Jobe Watson (Ess)
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