Richmond vs Essendon
Essendon’s nosedive from a position of power to complete and utter capitulation has been one of the strangest things to witness in what has been a pretty strange season. Their 16-goal loss to Carlton last week was abominable.
Richmond meanwhile lost to Fremantle for the second time this season, not strong enough to win in Perth against a side very keen for finals. This match-up should result in a win for the Tigers if they’re committed enough, and put paid to the Bombers’ finals hopes if they weren’t already dashed.
Richmond by 21
SC – Robin Nahas (Rich), Dyson Heppell (Ess)
St Kilda vs Greater Western Sydney
With Fremantle playing North Melbourne at Etihad this weekend Scott Watters will be letting his troops know that this is their final chance. But the loss to Geelong last weekend all but extinguished St Kilda’s finals hopes, and with Fremantle two games ahead and with a home game against Melbourne in the final round, 2012 appears over for the Saints.
Greater Western Sydney will be trying desperately to get off the bottom of the ladder but that too appears unlikely. They’ve got the in-form North Melbourne in the last round and so will surely finish with a 2-18 record.
A big win here will give the Saints a bit of hope but they are relying on unlikely results to fall their way to make the eight.
St Kilda by 72
SC – Brendon Goddard (St K), Luke Power (GWS)
Port Adelaide vs Brisbane
Two more games for Garry Buddha/Whiskas Hocking to make an impression on the Port Adelaide board for the full coaching role in season 2013. The heavy 48-point loss to West Coast last weekend won’t help things but there is some improvement to be made.
This game is certainly a winnable contest though Brisbane will go in favourites after their remarkable win over Adelaide at the Gabba last week. Eight wins for the season is surely a pass mark for the Lions, who can push for finals next season.
With this game and one against the Western Bulldogs next week Brisbane can finish the year with 10 wins; possibly leap frogging Richmond if they stay with nine wins.
Brisbane by 22
SC – Travis Boak (Port), Jack Redden (Bris)
Sydney vs Hawthorn
It’s first versus second in this tantalising and season-defining clash. Sydney seemed almost untouchable until their shock loss to Collingwood two weeks ago, though their extraordinary 16-goal second half against the Western Bulldogs last week warned the competition they were still very much not making up the numbers.
Hawthorn recorded its 10th win in 11 weeks with a less-than-impressive 64-point belting of Gold Coast last week. They did what they had to do and still have a couple of players to come back. Expect Sydney to get up in a close one but it will be much tougher for the Swans if Lance Franklin plays.
Sydney by 10
SC – Adam Goodes (Syd), Brad Sewell (Haw)
West Coast vs Collingwood
This is an absolutely crucial clash for both sides. Just when West Coast’s top four aspirations appeared all but dashed, they have a chance to get back in – win this and they will replace Collingwood in the top four due to their superior percentage.
It may not matter however, because West Coast play Hawthorn at the MCG next week, and Collingwood plays Essendon, and it would take a brave man to pick an upset in either of those games.
Whatever the results, the Eagles seem to play at least one home final, be it a home elimination final or a home semi final. The Magpies want a top four spot and are confident knowing it can topple Sydneyif they play them in the qualifying finals.
West Coast by 15
SC –Daniel Kerr (WC), Scott Pendlebury (Coll)
Gold Coast vs Carlton
This clash could hardly have come at a better time for Carlton with Fremantle playing North Melbourne in Melbourne this weekend. Provided the Dockers lose, all the Blues need to do is win, by any margin, and they will replace Fremantle in the top eight.
Gold Coast should be comfortable in keeping Greater Western Sydney off the bottom of the ladder considering their percentage is far superior, and neither side has any realistic chance of winning either of their final two games.
The Suns will hope to be competitive and they should be, but will find themselves outclassed by the resurgent Blues.
Carlton by 45
SC – Gary Ablett (GC), Chris Judd (Carl)
Geelong vs Western Bulldogs
Surely we should have learnt from last year not to write off Geelong. With the exception of a five-point loss to West Coast in Perth two weeks ago the Cats have won four of their past five matches, and last week’s seven-goal belting, while far from perfect, will have given them even more confidence heading towards the finals.
Other sides should beware. If there is any team that is going to win the premiership from outside the top four it will be Geelong and they can rise to sixth on the ladder with a big win here against the struggling Western Bulldogs.
Geelong by 65
SC – Joel Corey (Geel), Matthew Boyd (WB)
North Melbourne vs Fremantle
Since that 115-point loss to Hawthorn back in round 10, North Melbourne has lost just one game – by two points to West Coast. Hawthorn and Sydney are the only other two sides to have as good a record as that, and the Kangaroos have deserved every second of it.
Fremantle have kept themselves in the hunt for the eight by performing better outside Perth, but face a must-win game this weekend. Carlton will beat Gold Coast and should beat St Kilda in the final round, so if Fremantle lose here, they will miss the eight by four points. Hard to see them getting the win.
North Melbourne by 25
SC – Brent Harvey (NM), Matthew Pavlich (Frem)
Melbourne vs Adelaide
Adelaide will have been incredibly frustrated with their loss to Brisbane last weekend; had they won they would be sitting second right now and in with a very good chance of finishing on the top of the ladder given they play Gold Coast next week.
As it stands, the Crows should win their final two games easily, and if Sydney manage to beat Hawthorn this week then that will guarantee them a top two spot and home preliminary final.
Jim Stynes’ autobiography has just been released and the Melbourne players would do well to flick through it before this match. Four wins is unacceptable but the horror season is nearly over for the Demons.
Adelaide by 36
SC – Nathan Jones (Melb), Scott Thompson (Adel)
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