MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 17: (L-R) Nick Smith of the Swans, Jack Riewoldt of the Tigers and Dane Rampe of the Swans compete for the ball during the 2017 AFL round 13 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 17, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Richmond vs Sydney

Etihad Stadium, 7:20pm Thursday June 28

Team news: Richmond are likely to bring David Astbury back in for Ryan Garthwaite and Dion Prestia could return straight into the senior side after being out for almost half of the season so far.

The Swans should have veteran Jarrod McVeigh back from a minor calf strain.

Injury Watch: The Tigers can expect to have Bachar Houli back from a groin injury in a week.

Sydney’s Sam Reid and Lewis Melican could return in the NEAFL this weekend.

Prediction: This clash is one of the most anticipated match ups of the year. We will learn a lot about where both teams are at by the end of Thursday night but on paper, there isn’t much setting them apart. It’s a much more even contest being at Etihad rather than the MCG but Richmond should still be too good. Richmond by four points

Western Bulldogs vs Geelong                   

Etihad Stadium, 7:50pm Friday June 29

Team news: The word at the Bulldogs camp this week is that Matt Suckling has been training with the group and could return this week.

Geelong have announced that Quinton Narkle will debut this weekend and they could also have Harry Taylor, Scott Selwood and Cam Guthrie back in the side.

Injury Watch: The Bulldogs’ injury list is way too long at the moment but they are slowly getting players back.

Prediction: The Dogs were brave against North Melbourne last weekend but they crumbled under pressure. Geelong will get the better of them through experience. Geelong by 23 points.

Carlton vs Port Adelaide

MCG, 1:45pm Saturday June 30

Team news: The Blues will most likely be without Matthew Kruezer and probably Levi Casboult who broke his finger just before the game last weekend. Skipper Marc Murphy is a 50/50 chance the play.

Injury Watch: Carlton have confirmed that Lachie Plowman will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Port Adelaide’s Matthew Broadbent could return to the SANFL this week after undergoing ankle surgery.

Prediction: You would think Port Adelaide just win but Carlton might be a bit of a smoky at the MCG. Port Adelaide by 37 points.

Adelaide vs West Coast

Adelaide Oval, 4:05pm Saturday June 30

Team news: The Crows should be able to bring some big names back this week as Rory Sloane, Rory Laird and Tom Lynch are all reportedly ready to go but they will lose Eddie Betts to a hamstring injury.

West Coast’s forward woes could get worse as veteran Mark LeCras is in some doubt.

Injury Watch: Adelaide think Eddie Betts will be back in three weeks.

West Coast are hopeful to have Josh Kennedy back in the team in 2-3 weeks and Jack Darling in 3-4 weeks.

Prediction: Both teams are heavily undermanned but they match up quite well. Adelaide have some big ins and they’re about ready to start playing some good footy again. Adelaide by 7 points.

Gold Coast vs Collingwood

Metricon Stadium, 7:25pm Saturday June 30

Team news: Steven May and Rory Thompson (Gold Coast) are chances to return but Sam Day is in doubt with a shoulder injury.

Big news out of the Pies camp this week with Adam Treloar likely to miss at least the rest of the home and away season after tearing both hamstrings last weekend.

Injury Watch: Collingwood’s hamstrung quartet (Moore, Elliot, Varcoe and Smith) are getting closer to a return and are now listed on their injury list under ‘test’.

Prediction: The Pies have lost their star but they’re still a big September contender and they need to win this to keep their season on track. Collingwood by 39 points.

GWS vs Hawthorn

Spotless Stadium, 7:25pm Saturday June 30

Team news: The Giants lose big man Jeremy Cameron for five weeks to suspension.

After being a late withdrawal last week, the Hawks could bring Jonathon Ceglar back in if he’s fit. Shaun Burgoyne goes out with another hamstring injury.

Injury watch: Toby Greene (GWS) is said to be 1-2 weeks away from playing footy again.

Burgoyne will be out of the Hawthorn side for a month.

Prediction: Both of these teams are neck and neck to get into the top eight and this is a very big clash. Cameron is a huge loss for the Giants. Hawthorn by 11 points.

Melbourne vs St Kilda

MCG, 1:10pm Sunday July 1

Team news: The Saints will have their skipper Jarryn Geary back from injury but Jimmy Webster must get through a fitness test.

Injury watch: The Demons will have Dean Kent back from a nasty hamstring injury but he will most likely go through the VFL.

Blake Acres (St Kilda) is a week away from retuning from a hamstring injury.

Prediction St Kilda haven’t won at the MCG since 2016 and a lot would need to go right for them to beat Melbourne there this weekend. Melbourne by 34 points.

Essendon vs North Melbourne

Etihad Stadium, 3:20pm Sunday July 1

Team news: The Bombers will lose Mason Redman for a while due to an ankle injury. Jordan Ridley or Aaron Francis could come back into the team.

North Melbourne will be without Billy Hartung who injured his hamstring last weekend but they could have Ben Jacobs back if he is fit.

Injury watch: The Bombers are still unsure when Joe Daniher will be fit to play again and Mason Redman will miss 6-8 weeks.

Prediction: Another hard game to pick because you don’t know what Essendon will bring. They were terrific against the Eagles in Perth last week and have won four of their last five. If they can keep the ball rolling they should win but North Melbourne are full of confidence at the moment. Essendon by three points.

Fremantle vs Brisbane

Optus Stadium, 2:40pm Sunday July 1

Team news: Fremantle will get Michael Walters back from suspension.

The Lions lose Harris Andrews for a minimum of two weeks after that heavy hit courtesy of Jeremy Cameron last week. Dan McStay is his likely replacement.

Injury watch: Brad Hill (Fremantle) appears to be fit to return to footy but has a club-imposed suspension to serve before coming back into the seniors.

Brisbane’s Mitch Robinson must pass a fitness test this week to be cleared to play.

Prediction: Brisbane have been brave but Fremantle should win at home. Fremantle by 28 points.

Point to prove:

Essendon. The Bombers look to have turned their season around and still have a slim chance to make finals after their massive win over the Eagles last week. They have been beating teams they shouldn’t but not the teams they should and this week is their week to prove if they really are back on track. North Melbourne are playing with all the confidence in the world and they have been hard to stop but Essendon must win if they have any hope of playing finals. They have a reasonable run home but it all depends on which Essendon turns up each week. The Essendon that beat the Eagles last week can beat anybody.

Struggle street:

GWS. The Giants were struggling enough to make the finals but losing their star forward for five weeks hurts them a lot. Rory Lobb is injured and Jonathon Patton can’t take a mark to save himself at the minute. Toby Greene will be back in a couple of weeks but they still need marking targets up forward. They have a tough run home and it’s hard to see them being a finals contender.

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