The Bullies are starting to put it together with wins from their last two while Geelong slide further away from the eight after losing to Collingwood in the final minute last Friday night.
The Bulldogs receive Adam Cooney back into what has become a fairly respectable midfield while Cats veteran defender Matthew Scarlett jumps back into their lineup.
Geelong were great for parts last week but really squandered their opportunities in front of goal when it mattered most. They won’t make the same mistakes this week.
Both teams have been great over the past three weeks but Hawthorn will be in slightly better shape after thrashing the Dockers in Launceston while Richmond couldn’t upset Essendon.
Richmond are a team that is easy to love; they feature a great midfield and exciting personalities around the ground, but the Hawks have the stars and the pedigree to take this one despite learning Ludge Hodge will spend more time with a troublesome knee.
Gold Coast-Port Adelaide
Port produced one of the wins of the season last week, coming back in the fourth from a 27-point deficit. What was more impressive was that they did it with their backs against the wall. Primus and his club hadn’t won a game since Round 1 and were feeling the media sting. Their courageous victory saved the coach but unfortunately won’t save the season.
The Gold Coast were miserable last week and need a win in the worst sort of way.
After claiming one of those season defining victories against the Blues in Round 7, the Saints came out flat last Sunday against the Eagles from just a six-day break, eventually falling by 30 points. The Saints aren’t an elite team this season, in fact they’re not even in the eight, but Sydney may as well be. They recovered from a rough two week run without Goodes and Mumford to slay the Demons last week and will feast on a Saint Kilda side without a real ruck despite being without their number one man themselves.
Easily the pick of the round, if you watch one game of footy this weekend, watch this one.
Collingwood’s win over the Cats last week was impressive but it came at a cost. Pendlebury is banged up while Swan and Reid will miss due to leg injuries. The Crows on the other hand are in the best of form. Their midfield might be the league’s best and they were still potent last week despite not having the league’s top goal kicker.
Home advantage and great form have the Crows outlasting the Pies in this one.
Greater Western Sydney-Essendon
The GWS rotation policy has Bugg, Shiel, Smith, Kennedy and McDonald all returning to the first team while Palmer, Greene and a bunch of hacks take a week to recover. GWS are barely an AFL side, that’s to be expected, and their chances of win No.2 are improved with Heppell, Fletcher and Jetta all missing for the Bombers. But realistically, the Bombers will win comfortably.
Brisbane are just average and the Kangaroos looked like a top-8 side early before crumbling over the past three weeks. A must win game for the Roos may I add.
Even with Marc Murphy out until after the bye-rounds (he wasn’t playing well at all with a tag anyway) this will be a no contest. Melbourne have been so bad in 2012 that coach Neeld was receiving media scrutiny after Round 1. Two months later and he’s really under the pump.
Coach Ratten isn’t clear of criticism himself. There have been a few rumblings in the past two weeks about his own ability to lead the Blues to a premiership and their recent form has been far from impressive. Injuries are a concern, yes, but this presents the perfect opportunity for Carlton to right the ship. For a week at least.
This could be a great game. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell because the Dockers are all over the shop. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes disgusting, the Dockers need to rebound badly from last week’s demolition courtesy of Hawthorn.
Ross Lyon wielded the awe and sent Ibbotson and Roberton down to the WAFL while Nick Suban, Alex Silvagni and Jon Griffin will all get their chances to play. Matthew Priddis is the big name inclusion into the Eagles side who will also receive Ashton Hams back into the squad.
Eagles should win, I mean they are on top of the table, but the Dockers have been known to pull out the upset every now and then. All it takes is one win to define a season.