It was billed as the clash of the titans, but in the end Geelong proved much too strong at the MCG last night. What else can we expect this weekend. But let’s have a very quick look back at round eight before heading returning to Round 9.
Five things we learnt from Round 8:
- Collingwood and Geelong are the two best teams in the competition at the moment after thrashing Fremantle and Brisbane respectively.
- Richmond have got some ticker, despite losing to Hawthorn by three points.
- Carlton are good enough to make the finals after beating Port Adelaide.
- St.Kilda can’t win a premiership with their current team.
- Melbourne have stalled since their three-game winning streak and must go back to basics.
The rest of Round 9:
North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: Saturday- Etihad Stadium at 2:10pm
The Kangaroos are starting to look ok and seem to be functioning well across the ground. They will be disappointed with their final quarter last week against the Crows when they allowed them to kick seven unanswered goals. But before three-quarter time, North Melbourne did as they pleased. The Bulldogs are also beginning to click into gear. Barry Hall kicked five against the Swans last week and their best midfielders are finally all on the park, with Ryan Griffen and Liam Picken returning this week. These two teams normally produce tight contests, but the Kangaroos only have one ruckman and the Bulldogs are starting to hit some form. Despite the loss of stars Shaun Higgins and Rob Murphy to injury, the Bulldogs should be too good.
Winner: Western Bulldogs
Sydney v Fremantle: Saturday- SCG at 2.10pm
These two teams have surprised everyone with how successful they’ve been so far this year. But both have also suffered convincing defeats in the past few weeks to quality teams such as Geelong, Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs. However, the Swans are back at the SCG this week, a ground they play better than anyone else. Fremantle haven’t won there since 1996, which was when they were in their second year in the AFL. The Dockers will need to bring their very best and put Michael Johnson’s drug issue behind them. But Sydney’s running half-back line of Tadhg Kennelly, Rhyce Shaw and Nick Malceski, along with Adam Goodes up forward and a massive home ground advantage, should see them win comfortably.
Essendon v Richmond: Saturday- MCG at 7.45pm
The traditional ‘Dreamtime at the G’ game is the mastermind of former Bombers coach Kevin Sheedy, and is an event where Australian Indigenous culture is celebrated before the game. It is a magnificent spectacle and something definitely worth watching on Channel 10 this Saturday night. Essendon will field five indigenous players and Richmond will field just the one in Shane Edwards. This is a danger game for the Bombers. Richmond showed some serious fight against the Hawks last week and really should have won the game in the end. The Tigers will get a massive boost with Ben Cousins returning from injury, but Essendon also regain key defender Tayte Pears. The Bombers are a much better side on paper and should win, but don’t be surprised if the Tigers play with plenty of venom and give Essendon a massive fright.
Melbourne v Port Adelaide: Saturday- TIO Stadium at 7.40pm
AFL football heads to Darwin as the Power take on the Demons in what should be another close game. This match will feature some of the best indigenous players in the competition. Port Adelaide’s Daniel Motlop is the ultimate enigma because he has freakish talent and you never know what he’s going to do next. Melbourne’s Aaron Davey is one of the best kicks in the competition and has electric speed across the ground. For the Demons, they regain cult figure Austin Wonaeamirri, a local Northern Territory boy himself. Both teams are pushing the top eight and a win here will put them in good stead. I’m going for Port Adelaide based on the fact that the Demons have lost their past 16 games away from home.
Winner: Port Adelaide
Adelaide v Brisbane: Sunday- AAMI Stadium at 1.10pm
Most of the talk about this match during the week has been about the fitness of Brisbane stars Jonathon Brown and Brendan Fevola. Both were flown to Adelaide on Monday to have second opinions on their groin injuries and have spent the week training there. However the Crows have been in the news as well with Bernie Vince, Graham Johncock and Matthew Jaensch all suspended for a week by the club for disciplinary reasons. On the field, they were thumped by the Kangaroos last week despite a solid final term. Yet while the Crows are by far the most disappointing side of the year, the Lions have also been struggling in recent weeks, losing their last four games in a row. I’m tipping the Lions because they are desperate for a win. But I’m tipping them with very little confidence.
Carlton v Hawthorn: Sunday- Etihad Stadium at 2.10pm
The Blues were super impressive against Port Adelaide last weekend. They have found a suitable replacement for Brendan Fevola in Setanta O’hAilpin, who has kicked 21 goals so far this year and has had fantastic help from the team’s indigenous small forwards in Eddie Betts, Chris Yarran and Jeff Garlett. But perhaps the most exciting thing about the Blues at the moment is Chris Judd. The captain is showing glimpses of his 2004 Brownlow medal form when he was almost unstoppable.
I’ve been asked a fair bit recently why Hawthorn is performing so poorly. I honestly don’t know why and only the personnel at the club can answer that. But if I were to have a guess, I believe it’s a combination of injuries and a lack of enjoyment from playing. Despite the fantastic form of Luke Hodge, Lance Franklin and their captain Sam Mitchell, the team is not firing like its fans had hoped it would. Carlton should win this week, closing the door on any of Hawthorn’s remaining finals aspirations.
West Coast vs St.Kilda: Sunday- Subiaco Oval at 4.40pm
It’s pretty simple – St.Kilda are nowhere near their 2009 form. There seems to be no confidence at all when they kick forward, probably due to the fact that skipper Nick Riewoldt is not on the field. They also seem to have lost that drive from their half-back line and have resorted to playing an ugly ‘keepings-off’ style of football. Rhys Stanley is a young tall forward with lots of potential and must play for the Saints if they want to have a potent forward line. The Eagles aren’t a great side on paper, but they are always much more difficult to beat at Subiaco Oval. One thing that West Coast will be thrilled about is the return to form of All-Australian ruckman Dean Cox, who seems to be well over any injury concerns he previously had. West Coast for mine, only because it is at home.
Winner: West Coast
Ben’s Tip Tally: 39 from 64