Geelong vs St Kilda
Absolutely crucial game between these two sides heading into finals Geelong needs to win to keep itself on track for fifth or sixth on the ladder, as the last thing they want is an interstate elimination final. They’re currently being kept out of sixth by North Melbourne by 1.2%.
St Kilda, if it wants to make the finals, simply cannot lose. They are a game out of the eight at the moment and have a far greater percentage than the four teams above them. These games have earned a reputation for being tight andGeelongshould get up in a close one.
Geelong by 12
SC – Jimmy Bartel (Geel), Nick Riewoldt (St K)
Essendon vs Carlton
Essendon’s loss to North Melbourne last week, when the Kangaroos had a restricted bench due to injuries, was one of the worst of their season. They should have finished full of running but instead ended with a whimper.
Meanwhile Carlton kept its slim finals hopes alive with a win over Brisbane but with St Kilda, Fremantle and the Bombers fighting for that solitary eighth spot it’s not looking good for Ratten and the boys. Expect Essendon to be hell-bent on survival.
Essendon by 24
SC – Michael Hurley (Ess), Mitch Robinson (Carl)
GWS vs Melbourne
Yet another game that will struggle to capture the attention of more than a few thousand. Greater Western Sydney were a novelty earlier in the year but with an awesome finals series ahead of us these games seem more pointless than ever.
The Giants kept fighting Gold Coast last week but weren’t quite good enough in the end, while Melbourne was gallant but also never good enough against St Kilda. Can the Demons end this season with a fight? We’re all hoping so. They need a big victory here.
Melbourne by 21
SC – Luke Power (GWS), Jeremy Howe (Melb)
Fremantle vs Richmond
Haven’t Fremantle found some fire over the past month? A side that has been devoid of finals football, they are in danger of missing out with so many sides fighting for eighth spot. But they’d be pleased with the fixture this week, as they could very easily swap with the Bombers by Saturday night.
Richmond’s season is over but here they have a chance to have an effect on the makeup of the top eight. They’ll need to keep Matthew Pavlich in line whilst finding enough avenues to goal.
Fremantle by 25
SC – Matthew Pavlich (Frem), Dustin Martin (Rich)
Collingwood vs North Melbourne
I vividly remember just a few years ago that whenever these sides met,North Melbourne seemed to be on the end of an absolute belting. How things have changed over the past two months though, with the Kangaroos playing with more hunger and spirit than most of the sides in the competition.
One of Collingwood’s best wins of the season came against Sydney last week. It was crucial in that it has put the two teams on a level playing field – if the Magpies win one more game than the Swans do in the next three weeks they’ll finish top two.
Collingwood by 32
SC – Dayne Beams (Coll), Brent Harvey (NM)
Brisbane vs Adelaide
Slight danger game here for Brisbane, who have been better at home than they have been away. The Lions have some impressive kids who are playing for strong contract extensions and increases and it has been them, rather than the Simon Blacks and Jonathan Browns of the world, who have been consistently stellar this year.
Adelaideknows it can finish top two this year and a win here – with games against Melbourne and Gold Coast to come – will all but ensure that. Hard to believe they’ve flown under everyone’s radar despite losing only four games so far this year.
Adelaide by 36
SC – Simon Black (Bris), Patrick Dangerfield (Adel)
Port Adelaide vs West Coast
Garry Hocking has earned himself a decent reputation as a coach in his time in charge of Peel Thunder and the Geelong Falcons. He will be hoping for significant improvement over the final few rounds of the season and knows they are not without their chances in this match.
West Coast, so eroded by injury, are now next to no chance of making the top four given they are a game and significant percentage behind Hawthorn. Their win against Geelong suggested they were finding some form again though and if they can nail down a home elimination final, who knows what will happen?
West Coast by 34
SC – Travis Boak (Port), Daniel Kerr (WC)
Western Bulldogs vs Sydney
Many people predicted that the Western Bulldogs would finish the season with just five wins, and with away games against Geelong and Brisbane to come, it’s not looking pretty. A strong start is the key here against Sydney, who have had their measure of late.
The Swans need to be mindful of their ladder position over the coming rounds, as they don’t want to lose a top two spot. Thankfully their percentage is far superior toAdelaide’s and Collingwood’s and they should score an easy victory over the Bulldogs to hold onto top spot.
Sydney by 44
SC – Matthew Boyd (WB), Kieran Jack (Syd)
Hawthorn vs Gold Coast
How cruel that a week after Gold Coast’s second win of the season, a win that elevated them above Greater Western Sydney and may have ensured they won’t finish last, the Suns are drawn to play Hawthorn, the team that has scored almost 300 points more than any other team in the competition.
Alastair Clarkson and the management team will no doubt see this as an opportunity to rest some players with the dreaded “general soreness” to get them primed for competition before finals time, but this will be an absolute riot for the Hawks.
Hawthorn by 120
SC – Sam Mitchell (Haw), Gary Ablett (GC)
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