Blindside Sports’ Official AFL Predictions for Round 17 of the 2013 Premiership season are in!
(11) Kangaroos vs Carlton (9) Etihad Stadium
Last time they met: (R16 2012) Roos by 53
Friday night offers up one of the games of the round, with the loser likely tarnishing their chances of making the final eight. The last time these two met proved to be a spiteful encounter (chicken-wing incident anyone?) with the Roos belting the Blues despite only possessing three more scoring shots. Twelve months and a new coach later, the blues inefficiency in front of goal still remains, as they continue to trial new key forwards in the wake of more Jarrad Waite absences. The likes of Henderson and Rowe, coming off solid 4 goal performances last week will be tested against a hardened Roo defence, with Scott Thompson continuing his strong season down-back that surely warrants All-Australian consideration. Lindsay Thomas is an important inclusion for North Melbourne and could be the game winner that they sorely need, especially come the final quarter. After a solid job on Nick Riewoldt last week, Michael Jamison will have be on his game as big Drew Petrie kicked 7 against the blues last time they met.
PREDICTION: Another close one but this time the Roos come up in crunch time and break their hoodoo. Kangaroos by 11.
(1) Hawthorn vs (15) Bulldogs Aurora Stadium
Last time they met: (R16 2012) Hawks by 72
The Hawks again will be without Lance Franklin from in their forward line, however (as it has been noted previously on Talking Points) this is no major issue as Hawthorn’s remaining forwards are firing on all cylinders. The inroads made by Hawthorn’s younger players has been so significant that longtime fan-favourite Brad Sewell continues to remain out of the side, named as an emergency for the second week in a row. From a statistical perspective, the Bulldogs interestingly average more key indicators such as clearances, tackles and contested possessions over the current ladder leaders. A career-best season from Ruckmen Will Minson is a major factor for their centre clearance dominance, also creating further opportunities for the likes of Liberatore and Griffen. What remains the key issue for the Bulldogs is how they will convert these chances created by their centre dominance, as a heavy workload again will fall upon the likes of Dalhaus and the aging Giansiracusa. Perhaps the most interesting facet of this game will be seeing Brian Lake match up for the first time against his old team.
PREDICTION: Hawks to come quick off the blocks and cruise the rest of the way. Hawks by 40.
(18) GWS vs (3) Essendon Skoda Stadium
Last time they met: (R6 2013) Ess by 39
The last time these two met the Giants put in a fantastic effort, shocking the Bombers early only to fade out after half time. Another strong effort must be shown by the young lads at home, as their recent form has perhaps been among the worst period in the clubs existence to date. The Bombers main concern will be nullifying Jeremy Cameron who booted 6 goals the previous encounter, so expect Carlisle or Hooker to perform a shutdown role on him. Whilst they continue to miss Watson in the middle, the return of Crameri across half forward is significant as he is their main link-man in the forward half and should free up the likes of Hurley or the resting forward ruckmen. Boasting mature bodies all across the ground, particularly at both key defensive and forward posts, the Bombers should be able to stamp out any Giants challenge.
PREDICTION: Can’t see a repeat of last time, with the Bombers posting a resounding percentage boosting win. Bombers by 70.
(14) Gold Coast vs (7) Collingwood Metricon Stadium
Last time they met: (R10 2012) Pies by 97
After flirting with the idea of a maiden finals appearance, 4 successive losses to the Suns has effectively ruled out that possibility as they gear for another bottom 8 placing. The Suns will hope that Ablett won’t need to pull out another astonishing 53 disposal performance like last year against these teams, as they will be banking upon his other midfield compatriots Prestia and O’Meara to continue to even his workload so he can push forward. On the contrary, Collingwood put in a solid display against a spirited Crows side and appear to be back on track after their shock loss to the Power. The return of one of their most important players Luke Ball has freed up the likes of Pendlebury and Swan, whilst 2012 Best & Fairest winner Dayne Beams continues to work his way back into form. Provided they stay healthy, this quartet of players will go a long way towards determining the Pies position in 2013. On a side note, this is a massive game for fantasy football, with arguably the top 3 captaincy choices (Ablett, Swan, Pendlebury) going head to head. I’ll be the one of many hoping Ablett can replicate his ridiculous match last year.
PREDICTION: Collingwood to continue to gain momentum, but don’t expect it to be as one-sided as last years match. Pies by 35.
(16) St.Kilda vs (8) Port Adelaide Etihad Stadium
Last time they met: (R1 2012) Power by 4
This would be penciled in for a win in the Powers remaining schedule, however recent encouraging performances from the young Saints should make this a close affair. If the Power are to hold on to eighth spot this game would give them further breathing space over the cluster of teams below them and is certainly a must-win match for them. The loss of Kane Cornes in the engine room is a major blow, especially since the Saints have regained talisman Lenny Hayes in their midfield. Cornes’ shutdown ability will be sorely missed, meaning one of the likes of Dal Santo, Montagna or Steven could be let loose, however the power will back their young brigade to outwork a slower, less damaging midfield. One of the Saints’ Achilles heel all year has been an inability to shut down key forwards and expect the trend to continue as Jay Schulz presents another marking target that should feast on his undersized opponents.
PREDICTION: A shootout at the Dome, with the Power to overcome a big game from Nick Riewoldt. Power by 12.
(17) Melbourne vs (13) Brisbane TIO Stadium
Last time they met: (R5 2013) Lions by 28
The final match of the year in Darwin pits a resurgent Lions team against a more competitive Demons outfit playing a far different brand of football under Neil Craig. Brisbane simply needs to stamp their authority on this match early and display that their recent performances are no joke, much to which we have got used to of late under coach Voss. The spotlight again will be on the emerging Pearce Hanley to perform against an inexperienced Demons side, with his eye-catching display last week earning some calls of a potential All-Australian smoky. It has been well documented that Nathan Jones desperately needs more support and the Demons must get something from their underperforming mature-aged players such as Sylvia, Byrnes and Frawley. In what has been likely Jack Watts’ most consistent month of football, he again needs to take some strides in his career and finish the season consistently, starting this week by leading his younger teammates against a more experienced, tough Brisbane outfit.
PREDICTION: Lions to show they’re the real deal of late in a dominating display. Lions by 40.
(6) Richmond vs (5) Fremantle MCG
Last time they met: (R5 2013) Dockers by 1
Along with Friday night’s match, this 5th v 6th game is clearly on paper the games of the round. The Tigers will be looking to avenge their heartbreaking loss last time around and are facing a Dockers team gunning for a top 4 position. Life with Pavlich was short again for the Dockers as a front-on bump in the derby has cost the skipper a massive 3-week suspension that may have huge ramifications in their assault for a top 4 placing. Jack Riewoldt will be counting himself lucky that star defender Luke McPharlin is injured for now as last time they met he was completely blanketed, scoring just one goal. A win against the Dockers would signal that the Tigers are capable of damage in the finals, even keeping a slim top-4 chance alive. This will be Freo’s first game at the MCG this year and expect the Tiger army to be up and about, giving Richmond every chance of an upset.
PREDICTION: Freo’s miserly defence to once again come out on top, notching a win that seems them sitting in the top four. Dockers by 15.
12) Adelaide vs (2) Geelong AAMI Stadium
Last time they met: (R18 2012) Cats by 27
Losing club heartbeat Patrick Dangerfield for up to 4 weeks ultimately seals their fate this season, coming up against a hungry Cats side gunning for the minor premiership. It’s hard to mount a case for the Crows in this one; with their best players last time these met either missing (Dangerfield) or appearing to be completely out of form (Scott Thompson, Rory Sloane). The Cats somehow manage to make yet another Stevie J suspension seem affordable, as Mathew Stokes steps back into their forward line, previously in career-best form in 2013. The Geelong juggernaut continues to roll and shows no signs of slowing down. Always a difficult place to travel to, the Crows must capitalize early in this match at AAMI if they have any chance of an upset.
PREDICTION: Geelong to shut out any mathematical chance of the Crows making the eight. Cats by 30.
(10) West Coast vs (4) Sydney Patersons Stadium
Last time they met: (R16 2012) Swans by 52
In a replay of the great 05/06 grand finals, this looms as another huge match with potentially big top 8 and top 4 ramifications. The Eagles will be looking to continue hope of a top 8 placing by winning on their home turf, which they have managed to only win 2 of 8 games their this year. The welcomed additions of gun midfielder Luke Shuey and other key pieces Adam Selwood and Wellingham, means that the Eagles are near full-strength and will be looking for revenge after their belting last year. Ignore all the past history between these two; the most interesting aspect of this game will be seeing the leagues top 2 ruck tandems going head to head. Whichever combination is able to impact stoppages from both hitouts and second efforts will be the deciding factor in this match. After a ferocious tackling display against the Dockers, the Eagles will have to replicate that against the best tackling side in the competition.
PREDICTION: The Eagles to put in a valiant performance, resulting in another classic between these two. The Eagles to finally prevail at home in an upset. Eagles by 6.