What a horrible round is was for AFL tipsters last weekend. You would’ve been lucky to get more than four winners as teams such as Fremantle, St Kilda, Hawthorn and Adelaide won against the odds. Before we look ahead to Round 10, let’s reflect on what turned out to be a highly unpredictable round nine.
Five things we learnt from Round 9:
- If you continue to harass and annoy Western Bulldogs forward Barry Hall, you’re going to cop it.
- Hawthorn are alive and are back playing merciless football again.
- Collingwood still have plenty of room for improvement.
- No Jonathon Brown, no Brisbane Lions.
- Essendon ruckman David Hille is back to his best.
Round 10 Matches:
Western Bulldogs v Essendon: Tonight- 7.40pm at Etihad Stadium
Round 10 kicks off tonight with a fascinating contest between the Bulldogs and the Bombers. Both teams now seem settled and are starting to head in the right direction after unconvincing starts to the season.
During their last two weeks, the Western Bulldogs have hit that form which saw them rise to premiership favouritism before the season began. The 2008 Brownlow medallist, Adam Cooney, was at his scintillating best against the Kangaroos last Saturday with 36 touches and two goals. If he can continue that form for the duration of the season, expect the Bulldogs to go deep in September. The Bombers’ ruck combination of David Hille and Patrick Ryder is in lovely harmony at the moment and they are complimenting each other beautifully. Hille has been especially impressive in recent weeks. Everyone forgets how good he was back in 2008 before he ruptured his ACL last year.
The WESTERN BULLDOGS are starting to look menacing though. They have beaten Essendon the last six times these two sides have played and should make it seven tonight.
Melbourne v Geelong: Saturday- 2.10pm at Skilled Stadium
It’s the ultimate challenge for any AFL team- venture down to Skilled Stadium in Geelong and play against one of the greatest teams of the modern era. That’s the task that lies ahead for the Demons this Saturday as they verse the Cats in a season defining match.
After a round one thrashing at the hands of Hawthorn, Melbourne has won four out of their last eight games, a feat very few would’ve expected before the season began. They proved in their one point win against Port Adelaide last week that they have developed into a mature side that can handle intense pressure when games are tight. Geelong’s six-goal win over Collingwood last Friday night was arguably its best performance of the season so far. They are now deservedly premiership favourites and will be tough to beat once again. Every Geelong player knows their role in the team and that one bad game could see them instantly demoted to Geelong’s VFL side.
Melbourne needs to move the ball quickly and apply ferocious defensive pressure if they are to win. But they played in tiring and awful conditions in Darwin last week which will affect them dearly late in the game. The Demons will be competitive, but GEELONG should run over the top of them in the second half.
Port Adelaide v Richmond: Saturday- 3.10pm at AAMI Stadium
Surprisingly, these two teams normally produce close contests. The last time they met was a fabulous game of football with Port Adelaide sneaking home by three points last year.
Port Adelaide is another team that has surprised many this season. They have a great balance between youth and experience and find themselves sitting in the eight after nine rounds. The Power almost won the impossible game against Melbourne last week after coming back from a 33 point deficit at three-quarter time, only to go down by a solitary point in the end. Let’s just focus on the positives for Richmond. Jack Riewoldt has been fantastic, booting 25 goals for the season and he currently sits sixth on the goal kicking table. The young midfield of Brett Deledio, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin are beginning to gel and the more games they play together the better.
The Tigers do lose a key midfielder in Nathan Foley this week to a leg injury and the Power are pushing for top eight spot. Surely PORT ADELAIDE won’t let this one slip. Surely…
Brisbane v Collingwood: Saturday- 7.10pm at Gabba
Five weeks ago this match would’ve been categorised as the match of the round. But due to the Lions’ dwindling form, it doesn’t have quite that status anymore.
Brisbane have now lost their last five games in a row and are now in danger of missing the finals. Why? Their injury list continues to grow with three of their best defenders all missing. Star full-forward Jonathon Brown is also carrying an injury at the moment and shouldn’t be playing. The Lions also have little pace through the midfield and new recruit Amon Buchanan isn’t performing well as a small forward. Collingwood were brought back down to earth against the Cats last week. They were in the game for the majority of it, but were plagued by inaccuracy and fell behind when Geelong lifted their output in the second half. The loss raised the issue that the Magpies don’t have the ability to win matches against quality opposition.
However they travel better than any other team, winning 12 out of their last 17 road trips. And with the Lions decimated by injury, COLLINGWOOD should win comfortably.
St Kilda vs Adelaide: Saturday- 7.10pm at Etihad Stadium
This is probably a match I won’t be going out of my way to see on Saturday night.
St Kilda returned to form against West Coast last weekend with a tough and hard-fought victory at Subiaco Oval. It was the kind of performance that saw the Saints progress into a grand final last year. Lenny Hayes was simply outstanding gathering 35 possessions in a best-on-ground performance and Raphael Clarke repaid coach Ross Lyon for showing faith in him with his best game for the season. The Crows produced a great final term last week and ran over the top of the injury-depleted Lions to win by 12 points. A man who really impressed for Adelaide was Richard Douglas who has moved into the midfield this year and his improved fitness levels have seen him find more of the footy.
Both of these sides like to play with a defensive attitude. So expect a tedious and low-scoring encounter. But also expect ST KILDA to have a higher score than Adelaide when the final siren sounds.
Hawthorn v Sydney: Sunday- 1.10pm at MCG
The Swans venture down to the MCG this Sunday to take on Hawthorn. The Hawks will wear a special commemorative Kokoda jersey to pay tribute to all those who gave their services for their country in Kokoda.
After seven weeks of just going through the motions, the Hawks returned to that ruthless and unsociable style of football which saw them win a premiership back in 2008. They had 155 interchange rotations and applied wonderful defensive pressure, meaning coach Alistair Clarkson must have changed his game plan. Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin was back to his best with five goals, while Luke Hodge announced himself as a contender for the Brownlow Medal with a best-on-ground performance. Sydney are another side hampered by injuries to key players with six out of their best 22 players currently named on their official injury list. They lose both key forward Daniel Bradshaw and running half back Tadgh Kennelly to knee injuries for this game.
The Swans are underdone and run into an inspired Hawk outfit. It will be a tough day for Sydney and HAWTHORN should win easily.
Carlton v West Coast: Sunday- 2.10pm at Etihad Stadium
Looking at where these two teams currently sit on the ladder, the Blues should win easily. But if there is going to be an upset this round, this game is the one most likely to produce one.
Carlton looked flat against the rejuvenated Hawks last Sunday. They had more of the ball than Hawthorn, but they were nowhere near as affective with it then their opposition. Even captain Chris Judd uncharacteristically turned the ball over on a couple of occasions. The Eagles ran into a determined Saints outfit last week and were simply beaten by a more gritty side in the second half. Matt Priddis is an underrated player and continued his great season with nine clearances and 16 contested possessions.
This is a massive danger game for the Blues. If the game was in Perth the Eagles would win. But only because it’s in Melbourne, CARLTON should win in a very close tussle.
Fremantle v North Melbourne: Sunday- 4.40pm at Subiaco Oval
Kangaroos defender Scott Thompson awoke the sleeping giant in Barry Hall last week. But he may face an even more daunting task as he and his team take on Matthew Pavlich and the Dockers.
Fremantle are hot, hot, hot! They had a magnificent win against Sydney at the SCG last weekend and further proved that they are heading for finals this year. It is their team-orientated attitude that makes them such an attractive team to watch. North Melbourne had a shocker last week against the Bulldogs. They had enough of the ball and enough entrances inside their forward 50, but they just couldn’t convert their good work around the ground onto the scoreboard. However they will be boosted by the return of three key big men in Hamish McIntosh, David Hale and their best forward Drew Petrie this week.
But the Dockers are a different side than what they were 12 months ago. Pavlich is also in outstanding form and currently sits atop of the goal kicking table. He loves playing against the Kangaroos, so watch out for a big game from him this week. FREMANTLE will continue their winning ways.
And my tipping tally? (Thanks for asking!) 41 out of 72.