Geelong v Carlton
Friday 20 August, 7:40pm AEST at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne (Channel 7)
Anyone who doubted the Cats after their loss to Collingwood two weeks ago was quickly shut down last weekend. They slammed on ten goals to nothing during a blistering second term as they embarrassed the Bulldogs to the tune of 101 points. Players such as Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood and Corey Enright were all back to their best form, especially Ablett who kicked three goals from 39 possessions in a best-on-ground performance.
Carlton is somewhat back on track after two big wins over Essendon and Richmond over the past two weeks. Chris Judd has pulled out two consecutive best-on-ground performances and looks to be fit and firing once again. He still needs more support from his other midfielders though if the Blues want to be considered contenders for the premiership.
They have a lot riding on this game. A win could send them as high as fifth but if with a loss they could go as low as eighth. However, the Cats looked like a team on a mission last weekend and despite the fact Carlton has won the last two encounters between the two sides, Geelong should be too classy under the Friday night lights.
St Kilda v Richmond
Saturday 21 August, 2:10pm AEST at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne (Channel 10)
The Saints started slow but charged home against the Kangaroos last weekend, eventually running out comfortable 52-point winners. Nick Riewoldt was phenomenal, booting 7.5 from 19 touches and ten marks. It’s safe to say that the skipper is now well over his injury. Brendon Goddard and Jason Gram were also outstanding, gathering over 30 possessions each.
The Tigers are doing all they can to make sure they finish their season on a high note. Their ladder position doesn’t truly reflect how much they’ve improved this year. Individually, Brett Deledio is in All-Australian form across the half-back line, Chris Newman continues to lead the club well on and off the field and the retiring Ben Cousins is still in great form as well.
This one’s pretty easy though. You wouldn’t expect St Kilda to drop a game like this with the finals only two weeks away.
Winner: St Kilda
Hawthorn v Fremantle
Saturday 21 August, 2:10pm AEST at Aurora Stadium, Launceston (Fox Sports 1)
Hawthorn is very close to sealing a spot in the finals after a solid victory over Melbourne last weekend. The most encouraging sign for the Hawks was the game of star recruit Shaun Burgoyne, who gathered 23 touches, eight clearances, five inside 50’s and seven tackles in his best game for the club so far.
Nothing seems to be going right for the Dockers at the moment. Injuries to Aaron Sandilands, Hayden Ballantyne and Chris Tarrant at the crucial stage of the season and two losses in the past two weeks to North Melbourne and Sydney now mean their chances of a home final are in jeopardy.
But in a perplexing move by their selection committee, Fremantle have basically said to Hawthorn that they have no intention of winning this game. Skipper Matthew Pavlich leads a long list of seven outs due to ‘general soreness’, a cover up excuse to say that they don’t want to take players over to Launceston and risk any injury to key players. The Hawks will also be keen to continue their good form against Melbourne last week and will be too strong at ‘home’.
Collingwood v Adelaide
Saturday 21 August, 7:10pm AEST at MCG, Melbourne (Channel 10)
The Magpies continue to go from strength. They had another percentage boosting victory over Essendon last weekend; Dane Swan once again having another outstanding game with 32 possessions and two goals. But the most encouraging sign for coach Mick Malthouse and Collingwood supporters at the moment is that there are 26 to 28 players who are all capable of making solid contributions if picked in the senior team. It’s a handy headache to have.
Adelaide supporters must be so frustrated with how their team has performed this year. Inconsistency has been the Crows’ biggest issue, with the difference between their best and worst football being far too great. They will have to bring their best and only their best if they are to have any chance on Saturday night.
It won’t happen though – Collingwood by a lot.
Sydney v Western Bulldogs
Saturday 21 August, 7:10pm AEST at SCG, Sydney (Fox Sports 1)
Sydney has discovered some excellent form over the past fortnight with surprise victories over Hawthorn and Fremantle. Two men who really stood up against the Dockers last weekend were Shane Mumford, who controlled the ruck battle in the absence of Aaron Sandilands, and Daniel Hannebery, who did his NAB Rising Star chances no harm with 38 possessions.
After five wins on the trot, the Dogs came thumping back down to reality last weekend with a 101-point loss to a fired-up Geelong outfit. Going into the game, it was well documented that they were severely hampered by a virus and it showed on the night as they were completely outplayed by a much classier team. However the Dogs won’t dwell on the game too much and will treat it as just an ‘off night’.
The Swans will be determined to finish either fifth or sixth so they can host a final. They will make it extremely difficult for the Dogs on the small SCG parameters. But the Western Bulldogs’ top four chances aren’t totally sealed yet and surely coach Rodney Eade will have his players motivated for the match and should respond accordingly on Saturday night.
Winner: Western Bulldogs
Port Adelaide v Melbourne
Sunday 22 August, 1:10pm AEST at AAMI Stadium, Adelaide (Fox Sports 1)
Port Adelaide defeated West Coast by one point last weekend in one of the most terrible games of football you will ever see. They do seem to be more motivated ever since Matthew Primus took charge of the coaching reigns and it will be interesting to see if he keeps the job.
Melbourne’s slim finals hopes were ripped to shreds last week after losing to Hawthorn by 29 points at the MCG. In hindsight it probably left its finals run too late after only winning one game between rounds six and 16. The Demons have improved a lot this year and even though its likely they will miss the finals this year, they can proudly say that they started to show signs of a team that can win a flag in four or five years time.
There’s nothing but pride to play for here but the Demons have a wonderful opportunity to beat the Power in Adelaide for the first time in ten years. At its best, Melbourne is a much better outfit and should be well and truly motivated to notch up a win on Sunday.
Essendon v Brisbane
Sunday 22 August, 2:10pm AEST at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne (Channel 7)
Try and figure the Bombers out! A few weeks back, they defeated third-placed St.Kilda by five goals but then lost their next two games to Carlton and Collingwood by a total of 174 points. Yes, they are still a young team but Bombers fans must be extremely disappointed with how this season has panned out after making the eight last year.
Speaking of disappointing, the Lions have been the most disappointing team in the AFL this season. They have won two of their past 15 games and the end of the season can’t come any quicker.
To make matters worse, this weekend they play at Etihad Stadium, where they have lost every game this season by an average of 40 points. Essendon will be very confident about this game and should win reasonably comfortably.
West Coast v North Melbourne
Sunday 22 August, 4:40pm AEST at Subiaco Oval, Perth (Fox Sports 1)
West Coast is on the verge of winning its first wooden spoon in club history. The Eagles have had two great opportunities in the last two weeks to move up the ladder but have fallen just short against Brisbane and Port Adelaide. Unless a miracle happens in the next two weeks, they will be sitting in 16th spot by the end of round 22.
Compared to their ladder position last year, the Kangaroos have improved significantly this season. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that while they are able beat the teams they are expected to win against; they can’t seem to find the right formula to defeat the teams that sit above them on the ladder.
North Melbourne is still a mathematical chance to make the finals but need to gain a ridiculous amount of percentage and also need a few other results to fall their way. But while they are a still a chance to feature in September, they will be trying as hard as they can and this game against the Eagles is the perfect opportunity to increase their poor percentage.
Winner: North Melbourne
Ben’s Tip Tally: 103 (Last round: 6)
Ben Waterworth is a regular contributor to upstart and a Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can read more of his work at his blog, A Short Sport Thought. This article also appears on Sportingbet Australia’s website.