AFL Predictions – Round 18

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Blindside Sports’ Official AFL Predictions for Round 17 of the 2013 Premiership season are in!

Don’t forget to check out our AFL Talking Points of Round 17

(2) Essendon v Hawthorn (1) Etihad Stadium

Last time they met: (R18, 2012) Hawks by 94.

You probably wouldn’t have thought at the start of the year that this clash would be first against second, but credit where it is due. Essendon has overcome huge odds to be well placed at the pointy end of the season, and they’ll come up against the always consistent Hawks. For the Bombers to get up, they will have to take their game to a new level. Exposed earlier in the season by the Swans, to play a heavyweight in the competition requires a desperate first to the ball attitude and ferocious intensity. They will have to reverse the tide in the statistical department, as they trail the Hawks in all key stats across the season. They must put the clamps on Luke Hodge who run amuck last time they met, with 5 goals before being subbed in the third quarter. His form has been incredible post-bye, so expect the Bombers to try to mitigate his impact.

PREDICTION: The Bombers will bring much more than they did last year, but the Hawks but should come over the top in a highly contested match. Hawks by 18

(14) Gold Coast v Carlton (9) Metricon Stadium

Last time they met: (R22, 2012) Suns by 12

No longer one of the easy-beats of the league, the Suns will be on a high after coming off their greatest win in the club’s history. Taking down Collingwood announced their legitimacy to the rest of the competition as a team that must be taken incredibly seriously. With dangerous players all over the ground, including modern day great Gary Ablett, they can cause some serious damage. The Blues have gained some ground on 8th spot, but still sit a game and percentage behind Port Adelaide.

Their matchup last year saw Carlton’s accuracy come back to bite them, with 8 more scoring shots not enough to put away the Suns. This was also despite Carrazzo keeping Ablett to a measly 23 touches, so expect this to be the case again this week. After such an incredible performance last week, it is hard to see the Suns keeping it up again, and they may experience a bit of a lull. Carlton will be fully aware of this, and should try to capitalise on any potential percentage boosting opportunity.

PREDICTION: Carlton has their season on the line, and will produce their most complete performance of the year. Blues by 40

(17) Melbourne v North Melbourne (13) Etihad Stadium

Last time they met: (R18, 2012) Roos by 54

North Melbourne has had an appalling season, winning only 6 games and losing 5 games by 4 points or under, plus losses to Gold Coast and Brisbane, both from winnable positions. Quite frankly, they’re horrible, and their coach Brad Scott’s job is in jeopardy. On the other side of the coin, well not really another side because Melbourne is horrible as well, the Demons have shown some heart post Mark Neeld. Their contested ball is up, they play with more purpose and are not an embarrassment to watch any more. Regardless, this game will be a bit of a training drill for North Melbourne who cannot lose this match. But you never know. The Roos have a tendency to lose from the unlosable positions.

PREDICTION: Melbourne, unlike most teams this year, don’t have what it takes to be a threat to the Roos. Roos by 70

(7) Collingwood v GWS (18) MCG

Last time they met: (R18 2012) Pies by 120

How do the Pies respond after their performance last week? Well, luckily for them, they face the winless GWS, who should not pose anywhere near the threat of the Suns last week. An absolute flogging last year saw some incredible performances from Dane Swan and Travis Cloke, with 5 and 6 goals respectively. The Pies have also welcomed back Dayne Beams over the past fortnight, with the midfielder regaining his match fitness and form last week with a team high 34 disposals. The Giants haven’t shown too much promise, but future power forward Jeremy Cameron having 9 shots on goal last week. An interesting dilemma for Nathan Buckley is where to play Ben Reid. His go to man on defence has now become a key part of his forward line, especially when he is looking to play with matchups during the game. He may look to stop Cameron, however he must be thinking long term towards the finals and how his team will look come crunch time.

PREDICTION: Collingwood to bounce back after a deplorable performance last week. Pies by 70

(3) Geelong v St Kilda (16) Skilled Stadium

Last time they met: (Rnd21 2012) Cats by 42

For what was usually a marque game for the AFL, sadly St Kilda has fallen so far from what anyone would consider a decent team. The Saints have failed miserably post Brendan Goddard, and are struggling to make an impact in any of the key statistical areas. Trailing miserably in contested possessions, tackles and inside 50s, their intensity both with and without the ball isn’t good enough, and will continue without a drastic change.

Geelong needs to perform much better than they did last week, going down to an Adelaide outfit without Patrick Dangerfield. No doubt they will though, and what better way to do it than against a struggling St Kilda outfit. For two teams who a couple of years ago were hard to separate, it is quite remarkable the differences between the two since. Recruitment has played a big role, with many new faces at the Cats such as Motlop, Blicavs, and Hunt slotting nicely into a stable team, while the Saints have really had no impact from their youngsters.

PREDICTION: Heavyweight matchup of a few years ago is a thing of the past. Geelong to cruise to a 40 point win

(5) Fremantle v Adelaide (11) Patersons Stadium

Last time they met: (R10 2013) Fremantle by 7

This should be quite a ripper of a match, with Adelaide fresh off a massive win over Geelong, and Fremantle showing what may be the makings of a late season fade. Freo were less than convincing than against West Coast in the derby, and were picked apart by a more classy Richmond side. Back at home though this week may see them back into form, but against a dangerous Adelaide outfit, this may be difficult. Freo will take some comfort in knowing their number 1 ruckman will give them much greater use than in their Round 10 match earlier this year when Sandilands was out. Sam Jacobs had a whopping 50 hitouts, giving the Adelaide midfield first use

Without Dangerfield in the lineup this time round, the Ryan Crowley tag will likely go to Rory Sloane, who had 30 touches last time they met. This will no doubt be a typical Fremantle match, with low scoring and ridiculous defence. For this game to be broken open, the Adelaide will have to bring the same intensity they did last week against Geelong, which will be hard to replicate

PREDICTION: Fremantle back at home should bounce back in a tight match. Freo by 15

(8) Port Adelaide v Brisbane (12) AAMI Stadium

Last time they met: (R22 2012) Lions by 11

Port got their finals chances back on track last week with a tight win over St Kilda last week. Despite only winning by 5 points, it is entirely possible that a win like this will kick them back into action again. With every match crucial for Port, with Carlton breathing down their neck for 8th spot, they have to put the Lions away. For the Lions, there is no questioning the impact the bye has had on their form, plus the inclusion of superstars Daniel Rich and Matthew Leuenberger has seen them string together a few great wins. If this game was in Brisbane, I’d be tipping the Lions to get up, but I can’t see it this week.

PREDICTION: Brisbane’s late season surge will end at the hands of a Port Adelaide team looking to improve on their performance from last week. Port by 25

(15) Western Bulldogs v West Coast (10) Etihad Stadium

Last time they met: (R6 2013) Eagles by 70

Despite leading inside 50s last time they met, the Dogs were outshot nearly two to one, something which they will look to correct this time around. To do this though will be to reverse a season long trend of letting in over 100 points a game, and against this powerhouse forward line of the Eagles, this will too hard to overcome. With Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling kicking 9 goals between them in their last encounter, plus a lazy 4 from Dean Cox and 3 from Mark Lecras, the Dogs are going to struggle to match up defensively. Adding to this, they face the best ruck combination in the league. A big game from potential All Australian ruckmen in Will Minson, will be crucial in limiting the damage.

PREDICTION: Inspired performances by both teams last week, but the sheer weight of superstars will get the Eagles up by 30

(4) Sydney v Richmond (6) SCG

Last time they met: (R7 2012) Tigers by 29

One of the matches of the round this week, Richmond on a high from a brilliant win against Freo travels to Sydney for another match against a heavyweight of the AFL. Despite Sydney being a finals team for many years, Richmond has won 3 of their last 4 against the Swans. Crucially though, these 3 matches were at the MCG, where the Swans had struggled during many home and away matches. The SCG will favour a highly contested match, and with the Swans performing much better in the contested possessions and tackle count for the year, the Swans.

It’s hard to see Richmond outplaying the Swans like they did last year, despite their significant improvement. The Tigers had a whopping 130 more disposals than Sydney, and nearly 30 more contested possessions. Expect the Swans to come out hot and look to prevent a repeat of last year’s result.

PREDICTION: The Swans will outmuscle the younger bodies of Richmond in a highly contested outing. Swans by 25

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Religiously tennis - senior coach at Canberra School of Tennis, playing and watching. Sydney Swans nut and fan of the five day game.

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