Geelong v Essendon
Essendon was impressive in defeating Port Adelaide last week, especially with a playing list decimated by injuries. It needs to back that performance up against a much better team this week though. Crucial inclusions are Stewart Crameri and Angus Monfries.
Geelong is definitely not as good as it has been for the last five years – it won’t finish top four or win the Premiership, but is still a dangerous wild card. Geelong has a great record against Essendon, having won nine of the last 11 meetings.
Prediction: Geelong by 8
Collingwood v Hawthorn
Hawthorn’s loss to Richmond in Round 9 was the wake-up call it needed – a blessing in disguise if you like. Since then, the Hawks have been in red hot form, stringing six wins in a row. But Collingwood should snap that streak.
In such a mouth-watering round of match-ups, this match is probably the game of the round. At the MCG on a Saturday afternoon, there will be a massive crowd of around 80,000 and the atmosphere will be intense. In their Round 1 blockbuster, the Hawks capitalised on a vulnerable Collingwood, who had many first choice players missing due to injury.
The absence of Lance Franklin with a hamstring injury is significant but Jarryd Roughead has found some of his form from a couple of years ago. Jack Gunton was also impressive, kicking four goals last week.
Prediction: Collingwood by 19
Adelaide v West Coast
In last week’s top of the table clash, Sydney were responsible for ending West Coast’s 18-match winning streak at Paterson’s Stadium. The depth of West Coast playing roster is being tested with injuries and suspensions a factor last week.
Adelaide demolished GWS last week by 119 points to record its third consecutive win and moved to second on the ladder. Some corners feel the Crows aren’t deserving of second because they haven’t beaten enough top sides, but they have impressive this season and deserve their place at the top.
The home ground advantage should help the Crows, as too will the return of Kurt Tippett and Graham Johncock. A win for the Crows in these sort of matches will help their chances of finishing top two and host a qualifying final.
Prediction: Adelaide by 16
Gold Coast v Brisbane
This match is not the most appealing of the round, but there is a lot of pride on the line – bragging rights for the better team in the ‘Sunshine State’.
Gold Coast stole the match against Richmond last week, kicking two goals in the last 40 seconds. That win ended a miserable 21 losses in a row, stretching back into last season.
Of course, the rivalry doesn’t quite match the spite of a South Australian Showdown or Western Derby but Brisbane will not want to lose this. Gold Coast won the first edition of the Q-clash, but Brisbane hit back winning the next two quite easily.
Brisbane lose Daniel Rich to suspension and were lucky Daniel Merrett didn’t follow suit. Gold Coast will be at full strength. Most of the match to be an even affair, but Brisbane will dominate one quarter to slip away from Gold Coast.
Prediction: Brisbane by 32
Western Bulldogs v Carlton
Carlton and most of the football world are probably sick of the Chris Judd saga that dominated the agenda mid-week. But considering he was best-on-ground last week in a losing cause, he’s a big loss.
A win for the Blues would effectively bring them back in the conversation for top eight. Crucially, Matthew Kreuzer will miss because of injury and with Matthew Warnock and Shaun Hampson also unavailable, Carlton’s ruck stocks are almost bone dry. They’ve been forced to play rookie ruckman Levi Casboult, who will debut. Additionally, they lose Lauchie Henderson and Andrew Walker.
Western Bulldogs are not without a chance here, especially if a forward steps up and has a day out. But their recent scores of 56, 56, 57 and 44 show they are unlikely to kick a winning score.
Prediction: Carlton by 25
Melbourne v Port Adelaide
Saturday night is the lowlight of an otherwise fantastic round. This game is actually a great choice to be played in Darwin, since the atmosphere will be much livelier there than if played at AAMI Stadium or the MCG.
Last week, both Port Adelaide’s and Melbourne’s matches followed similar patterns. They were quite competitive before fading away badly in the second half – Port Adelaide conceding the last eight goals of the game to Essendon and Melbourne the last nine to Fremantle.
Port Adelaide’s best has been better than Melbourne’s best this season. And for that reason, the Power should be favourites.
Prediction: Port Adelaide by 6
Sydney v St Kilda
Jack Steven and Brendon Goddard come back into the Saints’ 22 that won a tough, sea-sawing match against Brisbane last week. Expect a similar match this week. The venue will not be that important when these two teams meet. Recent meeting have been grinding, yet high-quality affairs.
The Saints, after a poor start, have improved dramatically with some good wins mid-season including a upset win over the Swans at Etihad Stadium in Round 9. They are fighting with North Melbourne and three other teams for that last spot in the top eight. This is very much an ‘eight point game’.
The Swans didn’t just beat West Coast last week, they smashed the Eagles by 52 points to really make a statement to the competition. Previously, they were underrated or ‘flying under the radar’.
Prediction: Sydney by 22
Richmond v North Melbourne
North Melbourne’s story is pretty similar to the Saints. It started the season poorly but is now one of the in-form teams in the competition. The Kangaroos have won four of their last five and it’s more who they have beaten and how they won that is really telling. They’re playing a more daring and highly entertaining brand of football and should really have knocked over West Coast a fortnight ago – that would have been a massive scalp.
After Richmond’s humiliating loss to Gold Coast last week, most would react by thinking North Melbourne are comfortable winners here. The Tigers will definitely be competitive and this should be an entertaining game but Drew Petrie will impose himself up forward and be the difference. Even if he is stopped, they have Robbie Tarrant, Lachie Hansen and Lindsay Thomas – a great, balanced forward-line.
Prediction: North Melbourne by 12
Fremantle v GWS
This is not just a must-win match for Fremantle, but it needs to win by plenty to boost percentage and catch up to the other teams vying a spot in the top eight.
Early on in the season, GWS were competitive in most matches. Some were more impressed with first year GWS than Gold Coast in their second season. But the season is long for a team packed with teenagers and now they are losing by over 80 points almost week-in week-out.
Matthew Pavlich is on fire for the Dockers this season. He could kick five or six to lead the team to an easy win.
Prediction: Fremantle by 72