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AFL Round 12 Preview: Teams depend on a win

Round 12 proves to be a big challenge for sides wanting to answer their critics. Jake D'Amato previews the weekend's action.

Adelaide vs St. Kilda: Friday 8.40pm at Aami Stadium

Fresh from a week off, the Crows will look to pick up where they left off tonight – they have been one of the competitions best of late, winning six of their last seven with only a loss to ladder leaders Collingwood along the way.

St. Kilda, on the other hand, has had an up and down season and whilst it currently sits in the eight, the Saints need to muster a winning streak to become a threat later in the year.

This game shapes to be an interesting battle all around the ground, but particularly in the midfield. Lenny Hayes, Leigh Montagna and Nick Dal Santo will go head-to-head with Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Thompson and Rory Sloane; it will be a tough task for either midfield to gain ascendency. But with Dangerfield in scintillating (and possibly Brownlow Medal) form he may prove to be the difference.

Nick Riewoldt may prove to be a handful for Adelaide’s defence after booting seven goals last week. The Crows backline will have to fight jubilantly to keep out the likes of Milne, Saad and Milera who have become a deadly combination in recent weeks.

But with Adelaide playing at home and in form the Crows should down the Saints…just.

Prediction: Adelaide by 16.

GWS vs Richmond: Saturday, 2.10pm at Skoda Stadium

After an unexpected loss to Fremantle last week, the Tigers need an improved performance so they can bounce back. Richmond now sits at five wins and six losses in 11th place, and so it can’t afford to drop too many more games if it wants to play finals.

The main issue last week was the Tigers willingness to attack the football.  Maybe Tigers don’t enjoy playing in the wet, but they need to be tougher. Their opponents on the other hand, Greater Western Sydney, has proven itself as a team who will be relentless at the ball. Even in the Giants’ loss to Geelong last week, they were able to win the contested ball and put Geelong under pressure.

GWS will also welcome Jonathon Patton into its side, as the number one draft pick will make his long awaited and highly anticipated debut. Can he show the potential he promises in the reserves? Kevin Sheedy certainly hopes so.  If Patton can become effective perhaps the Giants can finally start posting some winning scores.

Richmond should win and win comfortably, but for Damien Hardwick’s side it’s all about their intent on the ball.

Prediction: Richmond by 53.

Gold Coast vs North Melbourne: Saturday 7.40pm at Gold Coast Stadium

Gold Coast, it must be said, is used to losing game. But for the first time in the Suns’ short history, their ability to bounce back will be severely tested. Guy McKenna’s criticism of his team during the week has to fire up the young Suns, or they could be in for a longer year than expected.

North Melbourne also needs to regain its pre-season form that led to many expecting a top eight finish. The Kangaroos have lost four of their past five and find themselves a long way from the top eight sides.

Although the Kangaroos are expecting to win, it won’t be easy for them. When these two sides met in round five, an Ablett-less Gold Coast side led North Melbourne at half time, and that was in Melbourne!

Levi Greenwood is expected to have a run-with role with Ablett, and it may prove to be a harrowing task. Ablett was kept to 20 touches last week, and he doesn’t typically have two quiet games in a row, he will be raring to play himself back into form.

Unfortunately for Gold Coast, the Kangaroos might just be too strong for them, but as the past two weeks have shown, footy can be a funny game.

Prediction: North Melbourne by 25.

Hawthorn vs Brisbane: Sunday, 1.10pm at MCG

It seems as though Hawthorn is starting to find its stride; the Hawks have won five of their past six games with their only hiccup against a buoyant Richmond side. But they won’t be the only ones heading into the clash full of confidence, after the Lions stole a last gasp victory over West Coast two weeks ago.

Michael Voss touted it as the turning point for his side’s season, and perhaps they will go on to bigger and better things.  Just don’t expect it this week.

Although the Lions are well rested they don’t have enough depth in their list to go with the Hawks.  Who will play on Lance Franklin? This is a man who has booted 17 (13 & 4) goals in his past two games.

Another issue is whether or not the Lions can post a winning score themselves. Perhaps with Merrett playing forward they could score enough to become a threat. But then Brisbane loses a large piece of their defensive puzzle. It’s a tough call for Voss, but it’s positive when he does play forward.  One senses that the Lions fancy themselves when he does.

Alongside Franklin, Brad Sewell has been in career pest form, and his effect on the game cannot be understated. Unfortunately it doesn’t look as though Brisbane has the cattle just yet.

Prediction: Hawthorn by 46.

Western Bulldogs vs Port Adelaide: Sunday 4.40pm at Etihad Stadium

Prior to their 46-point loss to Hawthorn, Port Adelaide had made significant in-roads to where it needs to be as a club. The Power had won three games in a row and were playing an exciting brand of football; they were desperate and it paid off.

Likewise, the Bulldogs had a solid six weeks, winning four games and having two respectable losses against both of last years’ grand finalists, until they met a Sydney side hell-bent on dismantling them.

The game should be fairly even, and might be won in the respective forward lines. Western Bulldogs enter its forward-50 often, but have not found a forward combination that works just yet.

Port Adelaide, however, has limited entries inside-50 but when the Power does attack, they look threatening, if Jay Schulz, Chad Wingard and Justin Westhoff receive a constant supply they may cause a boil over.

Both sides will be looking to get back on track with a win, especially the Bulldogs who will honour the passing of the only premiership captain in their history, Charlie Sutton, this may prove to be the difference.

Prediction: Bulldogs by 17

Jake D’Amato is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe.  Follow him on Twitter @jdamato32.

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