Carlton vs. Collingwood:
Only 12 weeks prior to tonight’s blockbuster clash, these two sides met and Carlton ran away with a 60-point win.
But a lot has changed since their last battle.
Carlton is but a shadow of the side that demolished the Magpies, it has now slumped to tenth spot on the ladder, and doesn’t look like playing finals. On their way from first to tenth, the Blues have lost their past four games, and six of their last seven.
Collingwood on the other hand, has not lost a game since perishing to Carlton. The Magpies now sit a game clear on top of the ladder as they begin to ready their troops for September action.
One thing will be on Collingwood’s mind leading into tonight; revenge. Carlton humiliated the Magpies in round three, and Nathan Buckley’s men will want to repay the favour.
A belting looks likely, with Carlton still struggling to post a winning score. They have averaged only 67 points a game in their past four matches, and they will need to have a few players step up if they are to be competitive.
It looks as though Collingwood will notch its tenth consecutive victory tonight.
Prediction: Pies by 43
North Melbourne vs. West Coast
On the back of two impressive victories over Adelaide and St. Kilda, North Melbourne will be looking to erase the memories of their last trip to Tasmania.
Only five weeks ago North Melbourne were disgraced by Hawthorn to the tune of 115 points. Now it faces an Eagles side coming off a massive thumping from the Gold Coast, but it doesn’t look like an entirely bleak task for North Melbourne.
Whilst West Coast comfortably occupies third spot, it has lost its past three interstate games against Essendon, Brisbane and Collingwood respectively. If the Eagles are to finish top two and gain a home final advantage, they need to start winning outside of Perth.
But with the Kangaroos running their opponents off their feet in the past two weeks this game becomes more interesting.
Todd Goldstein will have his hands full against the Naitanui and Cox ruck combination, but if he can hold his own this will be a close one.
One thing that John Worsfold must enforce on Saturday is taggers. In the past two weeks Daniel Wells and Brent Harvey have been left to run free, and when these two are playing well the Kangaroos will be close to their best. If the Eagles can tag these two out of the game, the four points will be theirs.
Prediction: Eagles by 15
Melbourne vs. Richmond
You really have to feel for the Demons. They are currently playing their best football of the season, and are beginning to look like a unit. The only problem is that they are undermanned.
With the loss of Clark and Jurrah as targets up forward, each forward 50 entry looks hapless and usually ends with a kick in hope. But at least Melbourne doesn’t look as helpless out on the field as it did two months ago.
Richmond has put itself in quite a predicament. Its loss against the Crows last week after holding a 33-point lead was disappointing. The Tigers need to be able to put opposition teams away when they have the chance, if they are to play finals football.
With the media concentrating on the off-field adventures of the Tigers, Hardwick’s men will want to make sure it is their on-field performance being talked about next week.
The Demons can go with the Tigers if they can close down the game. A low scoring affair would suit Melbourne. They have more chance of winning a slog then a free flowing game.
The Tigers need to start rising now, before it’s too late, and they finish ninth… again.
Prediction: Richmond by 45
Sydney vs. Brisbane
A few weeks ago this match-up would not have received much attention, but Brisbane are a new look team. The Lions have won four of their past six to move within one win of the eighth-placed North Melbourne.
The Swans, however, are very difficult to beat on their home soil and Brisbane will need to lift their game to another level if they want to prevail.
This one might come down to a pivotal midfield battle, where the likes of Jack, Kennedy and Bolton will lock horns with Brisbane trio Rich, Redden and Rockliff.
The youthful Lions midfield has been impressive, and if they are on their game the Lions could be in the drivers’ seat.
Sydney has been the best defensive outfit this season. This will put Brisbane to the test. In their past two victories, the Lions have posted 18 goals in both games, and a similar score would probably see them home.
If the Lions can play at their best, they will test the Swans, but the Swans home ground advantage might see them home.
Prediction: Swans by 21.
St. Kilda vs. Essendon
The roller-coaster ride that has been St. Kilda’s 2012 season continued last week with a somewhat unexpected loss to North Melbourne. All year long, consistency has been lacking from the Saints game, and now they find themselves in an exceedingly tough battle for a spot in the eight.
This week they come up against Essendon, a side that has rekindled their early season form. The Bombers’ 84-point demolition of the Bulldogs last week was both clinical and unforgiving. They look like they have their mojo back, and it looks like a daunting task for the Saints.
The Saints may have paid the price for failing to run with playmakers Wells and Harvey, and this week the trend will continue if Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton aren’t made accountable.
As was witnessed last week, the Bombers in full flight play a pulsating brand of football that is irresistible to watch. They are flying too high for the saints this week.
Prediction: Bombers by 26
Port Adelaide vs. Adelaide
A depleted Port Adelaide side takes on its cross-town rival, Adelaide, in Showdown XXXIII. When looking at the two sides on paper it seems as though the Power are punching above its weight, but the best thing about rivalry matches is that anything can happen.
It’s already been a tough year for the Power, considering how its improvements were met harshly with a number of untimely injuries to important players. There’s not much Matthew Primus can do with his side, except getting game time into the club’s younger players.
The Adelaide Crows should look like men amongst boys on Saturday night, but during recent performances cracks have been starting to appear in the Crows’ game.
Against the Saints three weeks ago, they panicked and conceded late goals in a flourish. Then they were run into the ground by North Melbourne, a side they should have beaten, and last week they allowed Richmond to jump to a 39-point lead.
Adelaide needs to begin playing four quarters of good footy if they want to be contenders this year. Unfortunately for Port Adelaide they don’t have the goal-scoring power to take advantage of Adelaide if it does switch off.
Prediction: Crows by 52
Hawthorn vs. GWS
In the past four weeks, Hawthorn has been scoring relentlessly against its opposition, averaging 134 points a game. This week it has an opportunity to increase its scoring even further against the exhausted Giants.
The Hawks have started proving that they are strong premiership contenders this season. Their form has been superb, and they enter Sunday’s clash aiming for their fifth win in a row.
The Giants are on the other end of the scale, having suffered two heavy losses to Melbourne and Sydney in recent weeks. The young Giants seem to be seeking a break, and it would be unfortunate to see them drop off after a pretty competitive start to the year.
The Hawks should give them a hiding.
Prediction: Hawks by 74
Gold Coast vs. Geelong
The Gold Coast Suns will be looking to produce a hugely improved brand of football this week after a dismal showing in Perth. The Suns were smashed by the Eagles and simply did not look up to scratch.
The Suns still are winless this season, and are yet to record a victory at home since their induction last season, and on recent form it will remain this way.
The Cats managed a comfortable win over Port Adelaide last weekend, and would love to cruise to another win here before their tough weeks ahead. It is also an opportunity for the Cats to try and play themselves into form.
Gary Ablett will be eager to have another hit out against his old side, and he has to be the man who gets his side going. If he plays at his best he can give them a chance, but he’ll need some mates.
Geelong should be too good for the battling Suns.
Prediction: Cats by 37
Fremantle vs. Western Bulldogs
If the Western Bulldogs produce a repeat of their last two outings this game could turn into a snoozer quickly. The Bulldogs have been insipid with hopeless forward 50 entries costing them dearly.
When the Bulldogs have been put under pressure in the past two they have panicked and bombed away, rather than keeping possession.
Fremantle’s lockdown style of play might suit the Bulldogs if Ross Lyon implements it. But it seems more likely that they will play an attacking game and back their forward line to be more potent than the doggies.
Despite poor efforts recently, the Bulldogs have been resilient for most of the season. If they bring their pressure game back into play, they could upset Fremantle.
The Dockers were competitive last week and controlled long parts of their game against Collingwood. But as per usual, the Dockers had a long scoring lapse and it took them until the 18th minute of the second quarter to score their first goal. Fremantle cannot afford to keep having goalless patches if it wants to become a better side.
A scoring lapse against the Bulldogs could cost them if the doggies are on their game.
On recent form Fremantle should win comfortably.
Prediction: Fremantle by 40.