Adelaide, 7:20pm Thursday July 12
Injury Watch: Geelong’s Esava Ratugolea is set to start running in bid to return to footy late this year.
Prediction: Adelaide have locked in Rory Sloane for life and if that doesn’t get them up and about, I don’t know what will. Adelaide by 11 points
Etihad Stadium, 7:50pm Friday July 13
The Blues are hopeful that Kade Simpson will come back in after being a late withdrawal last week due to a calf strain and Paddy Dow should return after being managed last week.
Injury Watch: McCartin (St Kilda) is set to only miss 2-3 weeks with the foot injury.
Prediction: The Friday night clash we have been dreading since about round five. The Saints have shown some improvement over the last few weeks and the Blues have shown anything but. St Kilda by 17 points.
UTAS Stadium, 1:45pm Saturday July 14
Injury Watch: Brisbane’s vice-captain Harris Andrews will visit a neurosurgeon this week to find out if he has a chance at playing again this year.
Prediction: The Lions got the win over Hawthorn earlier in the year but down in Tasmania, the Hawks should be too good. Hawthorn by 32 points
MCG, 4:35pm Saturday July 14
Team news: Demons veteran Bernie Vince could come back into the side after spending some time in the VFL.
The Bulldogs could have their superstar midfielder Jack Macrae back in the team this week.
Injury Watch: Aaron Naughton (Bulldogs) is in some doubt with an ankle injury and will have to pass a fitness test before being names this week.
Prediction: The Bulldogs have been very brave over the last few weeks but they don’t have a great record at the MCG and Melbourne need to get some more wins on the board. Melbourne by 25 points
Metricon Stadium, 7:25pm Saturday July 14
Team news: The Bombers will lose Jake Stringer and Patrick Ambrose this week but have options to replace them with Aaron Francis and Darcy Parish knocking on the door in the VFL. Essendon are also hopeful to have Orazio Fantasia back but won’t push him in to face Gold Coast.
Injury Watch: Suns co-captain Stephen May is suffering from a slight hip problem but should be fine to play this weekend. Pearce Hanley could come back into the NEAFL this weekend too.
Prediction: Essendon’s finals chances seem to be as good as over but they are hoping to keep playing well to gain momentum into next year. Essendon by 37 points
Spotless Stadium, 7:25pm Saturday July 14
Injury watch: Harry Perryman (GWS) will miss a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury.
Prediction: The inclusion of Greene and Deledio would be significant for the Giants but it is very hard to tip against the Tigers at the moment. Richmond by four points
MCG, 1:10pm Sunday July 15
Prediction: A season defining clash between the second and third teams on the ladder. West Coast could have some big ins but there are still questions around them at the MCG. Collingwood by 13 points.
Etihad Stadium, 3:20pm Sunday July 15
Team news: North Melbourne lose Cameron Zurhaar who broke his ankle against Gold Coast last week.
Injury watch: Zurhaar is unlikely to play for the Kangaroos again this season but they are expecting to have Jarrad Waite back in a month.
Prediction: A massive danger game for Sydney that will be easier to predict once the teams come out. But if North can beat Sydney in Sydney, than they have every chance to do in Melbourne as well. North Melbourne by 8 points.
Optus Stadium, 2:40pm Sunday July 15
Team news: The Power lose key defender Tom Jonas again but they could have Jasper Pittard back.
Injury watch: Troubled Docker Harley Bennell is edging closer each week to returning to AFL footy.
Port Adelaide will be without Jonas for four to six weeks.
Prediction: No Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands make things very difficult for the Dockers. Port Adelaide by 34 points.
Point to prove:
Collingwood. Over the last month, people have started considering Collingwood as a threat to Richmond’s bid for back to back premierships but they are yet to beat any other top eight team apart from Melbourne.
This weekend they face West Coast who are also vying for the second spot on the ladder and have been fancied as a premiership contender, but they have been without their star forwards for the last month and are desperate for a big win.
Whoever wins this match will finish the round in the top two, and with a tough run home, the Pies need to prove once and for all that they are genuinely a top four team.
Essendon and umpires. The Bombers have had a shocking few weeks with free kick numbers and this week the club approached the umpires coach Hayden Kennedy for a discussion on the issue.
Over the last three weeks Essendon have beaten West Coast and North Melbourne and lost to Collingwood. The total free kicks in those three weeks sits at 80 to 45 in favour of the Bombers’ opposition.
You can’t argue that free kicks determine the winners and losers of games but you can argue that they swing momentum and momentum is a huge thing in sport, especially in tight matches.
Photo of the week:
— Michael Willson (@MichaelCWillson) July 8, 2018