Round 12 AFL preview – Tigers to make it win number two?

11 June 2010

Written by: Evan Harding

We’ve reached the halfway mark of the 2010 AFL season and it has been action-packed both, on and off the field. Before we preview this weekend’s matches, let’s quickly look back at the season so far and some of the things we’ve learned along the way.

Premiership favourites: Geelong (still!)

Biggest surprise: Fremantle

Biggest disappointment: Adelaide

Brownlow Medal contenders: Luke Hodge (Hawthorn), Gary Ablett (Geelong), Chris Judd (Carlton), Michael Barlow (Fremantle), Brendon Goddard (St.Kilda), Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle) and Joel Selwood (Geelong).

Five things we have learned so far this season:

  1. The success of both Fremantle’s Michael Barlow and Geelong’s James Podsiadly in the AFL means clubs should seriously consider recruiting more players from the VFL in future years.
  2. There’s another Riewoldt… and he too can play.
  3. The longer Gary Ablett leaves his decision to either stay with the Cats or head north to the Gold Coast next year, the more pressure will be mounted upon him and his team.
  4. Interchange rotations are at an all-time high.
  5. Geelong is still as dominant as ever.


Round 12 Matches:

North Melbourne v Carlton: Tonight- 7.40pm at Etihad Stadium

It’s been 25 years since the first ever game of Friday Night Football took place between North Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG. These days, Friday night is when the people prefer to watch AFL and, like Monday Night NFL in America, has become an integral part of weekend’s schedule. Tonight North Melbourne again will feature on the big stage when they take on Carlton at Etihad Stadium.

The Kangaroos need a big crowd after last week’s poor turnout against Brisbane when just over 19,000 made their way through the turnstiles. After a blistering start, North Melbourne was lucky not to lose that game against the Lions, eventually winning by a solitary point. Their fadeouts during the second half of a few games this year will have been a big concern for Brad Scott and his coaching staff. Carlton has looked very solid in the last two weeks with convincing wins against Melbourne and West Coast. Almost all of their top-ten draft picks – Andrew Walker, Bryce Gibbs, Marc Murphy, Matthew Kreuzer and Jordan Russell – are playing consistent football and causing headaches for a lot of opposition teams, while Chris Yarran looks set to return from injury next week.

Despite their wonderful first half performance against the Lions last week, North Melbourne has been far from convincing this season. They might be able to stick with the Blues for the first half, but Carlton will run over the top of them in the second.

Hawthorn v Adelaide: Saturday- 2.10pm at Aurora Stadium (Launceston)

Two of the most disappointing teams of 2010 will meet in Tasmania – of all places – to try and regain some of the respect they had earned over the past few years.

The Hawks have won their past four games, but three of those wins have been far from encouraging. It’s true that they have had a fair few injuries and suspensions to players, but some of the efforts from their 2008 premiership players have been ordinary to say the least. The Crows had an emotional victory over Fremantle last week as they farewelled club champion Tyson Edwards in his final AFL game. Graham Johncock came back into the side after a shoulder injury and was outstanding. The more possessions he gathers in the backline, the more likely the ball will safely end up in an Adelaide forward’s hands.

It’s hard to see the Hawks losing at Aurora Stadium though. It’s their ‘home away from home’ and they play the large ground better than any other side in the competition. With Lance Franklin back in the side after suspension, Hawthorn should win comfortably. 

Essendon v Geelong: Saturday- 7.10pm at Etihad Stadium

A huge crowd is expected to pack Etihad Stadium this Saturday night as the ever-improving Bombers host the all-conquering Geelong.

The Cats had a tough battle against West Coast last Saturday night but they did enough to win without shifting from a low gear. Paul Chapman was a clear best-on-ground though and has now become one of Geelong’s most important players because of his ability to play in multiple positions. Essendon had a tough game against Swans, with the lead not exceeding nine points for the entire game. But despite the loss, the Bombers would’ve gained a lot out of that game, more mentally than physically.

However, Essendon will be without key big man David Hille for at least three weeks and Angus Monfries is out for at least two weeks as well. The Bombers will be competitive, but Geelong should have too many winners over the ground.

Port Adelaide v Sydney: Saturday- 7.40pm at AAMI Stadium

A tough and scrappy contest is expected on Saturday night when the Swans travel over to Adelaide to play the Power.

It’s safe to say that Port Adelaide is currently the most out-of-form side in the competition. They have lost their last four games in a row; albeit close to winning a few of those. The Swans seem to be back on track after two great performances against Hawthorn and Essendon. Jude Bolton played one of the great individual matches last week, gathering 26 contested possessions – a new AFL record – and probably earning himself three Brownlow votes in the process.

The Swans’ recent record over Port Adelaide is excellent, winning every game against them since 2004. They also regain Tadgh Kennelly and Ben McGlynn for this Saturday’s game as well. Sydney, just.

Richmond v West Coast: Sunday- 1.10pm at MCG

Can you believe it? Richmond is going into a match as favourites on the betting markets. And honestly, on the strength of recent performances, why wouldn’t you put money on them against an inconsistent Eagles outfit?

The Tigers were decent against St.Kilda last week even though they lost by 38 points. Their midfield of Brett Deledio, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin are starting to bond together nicely and Jack Riewoldt’s form is almost worthy of All-Australian selection. Like the Tigers, West Coast was also superb last week despite losingto Geelong. Beau Waters has been riddled by injury over the past two years, but his form this year – and especially last week – must be encouraging for coach John Worsfold.

This is a magnificent opportunity for the Tigers to register their second win for the season. However the Eagles will realise that a lot of pressure will be on them and they will want to win in Worsfold’s his 200th game as a coach. But West Coast are a different side away from home and with the majority of the football world behind them, it should be Richmond’s day.

Western Bulldogs v Brisbane: Sunday- 2.10pm at Etihad Stadium

Two sides will be trying to rediscover their form from earlier in the season as Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs meet at Etihad Stadium this Sunday.

The Bulldogs were all the rage a few weeks ago, but consecutive losses to Essendon and Collingwood have quickly put that talk to one side. They allowed the Magpies to get too far ahead during the game last week and their comeback was left far too late. However Brisbane isn’t going much better. The Lions have now lost six of their past seven games and like the Bulldogs, they would’ve been disappointed with last week’s efforts. The Lions came back from a 44-point deficit – thanks to Jonathon Brown and Brendan Fevola once again – to hit the front late in the last quarter. But Levi Greenwood had the last laugh with a goal to put the Kangaroos back in front with a minute remaining.

This is a must-win game for both clubs. But the Western Bulldogs simply need it more if they want any chance of finishing in the top four.

Fremantle v St Kilda: Sunday- 4.40pm at Subiaco Oval

The last time the Dockers and the Saints met earlier this year, they put on a magnificent spectacle for the neutral football supporter. St Kilda proved that they can win without Nick Riewoldt, whereas Fremantle announced themselves as serious competitors for the season. This Sunday, these two skilful sides will go at it once again in what should be the match of the round.

The Dockers had a lapse against Adelaide last week, going down by 23 points at AAMI Stadium. But from the looks of their performances so far this year, they seem to have become a side that is mature enough to bounce back from a below par performance. The Saints keep winning and are going about their business as usual with ultimate ease, and can look forward to Riewoldt perhaps coming back a little earlier than expected. Stephen Milne will play his 200th game this weekend and whether you love him or hate him, his record is of the highest class for a small forward.

This game should be very tight, but this is the kind of game St Kilda needs to win to prove to the football world that they have what it takes to win a premiership.

Melbourne v Collingwood: Monday- 2.10pm at MCG

The traditional Queen’s Birthday match between the Demons and the Magpies is a great spectacle and always draws a great crowd. And this Monday is a wonderful opportunity for Melbourne to show the football world how much they’ve improved.

The Demons were dealt a reality check against Carlton last week, going down by 41 points, making it just one win from their past six games. Like any young side, they have been inconsistent over that time but will only improve with every game they play as a group. It was an important and confidence-boosting win for the Magpies over the Bulldogs last week. Leon Davis has had a quiet first half of the year, but was back to his best last Sunday while booting three crucial goals.

Melbourne seems to lift every time they play the Magpies, probably because they realise that this is their biggest game for the season if they don’t make the finals. But Collingwood are a far better outfit than Melbourne and should win comfortably. Also watch out for Scott Pendlebury – one of the best players to watch in the competition – to have a day out.

Ben’s Tip Tally: 52 (Last week: 5)

Ben Waterworth is a regular contributor to upstart and upcast and you can read more of his work at his blog, A Short Sport Thought.