CARLTON vs COLLINGWOOD
It doesn’t get much bigger than this. Football’s greatest rivalry. Malthouse versus Buckley, take 2. A blues team on the cusp of the eight versus a Pies team struggling to remain in the eight. In what is one of the matches of the round, both teams have a lot to prove after coming off losses in round 14. The pies are under a huge amount of pressure, with most of their top-tier players turning in poor individual performances against a surprisingly confident power team last week. Marc Murphy’s return is a major boost to the Blues’ midfield whilst Harry O’Brien’s absence for the Pies exacerbates the Carlton’s midfield in the middle of the park
PREDICTION: Boasting stronger, more experienced players around the ground, Malthouse should notch his first win against the Pies, who again rely too heavily on the performance of their stars. Blues by 20.
GWS vs BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs are somewhat lucky that they are able to likely rebound with a victory against the struggling Giants after their pitiful performance last weekend. If the Giants have any chance of victory, once again they will have to lean heavily upon the shoulders of Jeremy Cameron who has accounted for ¼ of their goals this year. Despite the Dogs’ performances, Ryan Griffen is in career-best form and should wreak havoc across the wide spaces at Star-Track Oval against inexperienced opponents.
PREDICTION: In what is to be the final match in the Canberra for 2013, expect the Bulldogs to rebound with a resounding win. Dogs by 40.
KANGAROOS vs RICHMOND
2013’s most disappointing team comes up against this year’s most promising one. If the Roos drop this game, their finals hopes will be all but gone, whilst the Tigers are presented with a chance to push for a position in the top four. After their relentless display of pressure against the Saints last week, they will have to nullify the run of key Kangaroo playmakers Harvey and Wells. Perhaps Morris or Jackson will take a leaf out of Mr. Crowley’s book and resort to primary school tactics? Much of the Roos’ attack now relies upon Drew Petrie and his performance will go a long way towards determining the outcome this Saturday.
PREDICTION: The suspension of in-form forward Lindsay Thomas is crucial and should be the nail in the coffin for the Kangaroos 2013 season. Richmond by 20.
BRISBANE vs GOLD COAST
A win in the 6th and arguably most anticipated Q-Clash will give the Sun’s bragging rights, as well as keep them with a chance for sneaking into the finals come September. With Dion Prestia turning in one of the performances of the season last week, the Suns midfield is in fine form and looking for scalps with the help from Ablett and O’Meara. Backing up from the historical comeback against the Cats, Brisbane displayed the necessary effort against Hawthorn but was annihilated in defense. The pressure of losing to their growing neighbours will be immense and the spotlight will once again be upon Michael Voss to see whether he is the right person to take the lions forward.
PREDICTION: In a fiery affair, expect the Suns to stamp their mark upon the competition with their midfield sparking a narrow victory. Suns by 10.
HAWTHORN vs GEELONG
Despite the Blues-Pies match’s best efforts, there is currently no better match up of recent years than between these two powerhouses. Since 2009 five games between these sides have been decided by less than a goal, with the Cats famously winning the last 10 clashes. The Hawks are in sublime form, with their forward line firing on all cylinders last week in Launceston. This is their best chance of late to end the cats winning run that has remained since their 2008 grand final upset. The Cats responded after a horror loss to the Lions by demolishing fellow top four contender Fremantle in a ruthless fashion. If they are able to replicate that effort defensively, they will be a strong chance to continue their run against the Hawks.
PREDICTION: The Cats winning streak to finally come to an end, with the game oddly going beyond a 10 point barrier due to the form of Hawthorn’s key forwards. Hawks by 18.
ADELAIDE vs WEST COAST
A year ago these two teams were positioned in the top four and expected to be a great chance of playing in a premiership. Fast-forward 10 months and it is 11th against 10th, in what has been obviously disappointing campaigns for both clubs. A loss would put finals all but out of the equation, so the stakes are high. As usual, the performance of ruck tandem Cox and Naitanui against a struggling Sam Jacobs will be a facet of the game that the Eagles must capitalize on. Last week Patrick Dangerfield again showed why he is currently ranked #2 in the contentious AFL player ratings by being withdrawn from his forward post to dominate at stoppages in the midfield. Being played at AAMI, this is the defining game of the season for the Crows where they must show that last season was not a fluke and aim for a second consecutive finals berth.
PREDICTION: West Coast to overcome the hostile AAMI crowd and finally deliver the performance expected of them. Eagles by 12.
MELBOURNE vs SYDNEY
Coming off their second win of the season, Demons supporters will once again have to quickly tone down their expectations (if even needed) this week as they come up against the 2012 premiers. Despite showing promising signs last week, the Demons were completely overrun in the
final quarter and simply cannot reproduce a quarter of similar quality against a team like Sydney. Eyes will be on Jack Watts to see if he can back up arguably his best performance in the AFL, which will be no easy feat against the league’s 2nd best defense.
PREDICTION: The Swans will get the job done despite some sore bodies from last week’s tough encounter, as they are a class above their opponents. Swans by 50.
FREMANTLE vs ST.KILDA
In what is undoubtedly the easiest game to predict this week, the most interesting storyline will be seeing which key players (Sandilands, Pavlich, Mundy, Barlow) Lyon chooses to recall against the struggling Saints. The fizzle of Lyon coaching against his former team has certainly dulled, considering St.Kilda’s current state of transition. In what was one of the more disappointing recent performances last week, the Saints will again be up against quality opposition that applies relentless pressure on the ball. The Dawson/McPharlin matchup on Riewoldt was shaping up as a sub-plot in what should otherwise be a non-event, however with the Saint’s inspirational skipper absent this week, the sole draw-card of this match won’t even be on offer.
PREDICTION: Fremantle coast to a comfortable win whilst giving some older players a much needed tune-up game returning from injuries. Dockers by 50.
ESSENDON vs PORT ADELAIDE
After last week’s impressive victory against the Pies, the Power have to back it up and take their game to Etihad against the in-form Bombers. Also coming off an against the odds victory at Subiaco lead by under-fire skipper Watson, the Bombers will be keen to deflate an up and running Power side who are susceptible to poor early starts. Losing Crameri last week was a setback, however Essendon possess enough firepower to cover for him until his return. Travis Boak’s return last week from a broken thumb was instrumental in their victory and much of the Power’s hope of another upset, this time interstate will depend on his ability to overcome the tag that is likely to come his way
PREDICTION: Essendon to stamp out the Power’s challenge early with their midfield providing plenty of their goals. Bombers by 30.