North Melbourne v Hawthorn – Etihad Stadium, Friday Night, 7.50pm AEST
North Melbourne return to Friday night football in the middle of a testing period for the club. The Kangaroos had a relatively “easy” first 10 games and now they find themselves in a battle to hold on to top spot. They were given a football lesson by Patrick Dangerfield and the Cats last weekend and things don’t get easier for them as this is a must-win clash with the Hawks who continue to fight on despite being called “too old” and “too slow”.
The Hawks dismantled the hapless Bombers last Friday night in a percentage boosting 108-point victory that catapulted them to fourth on the ladder. They ended the round fifth, but can go as high as first this weekend if results go their way. They continue to prove that they are a champion team and this will be another test of their will.
North Melbourne are walking wounded at the moment and it could cost them top spot with Nick Dal Santo, Andrew Swallow, Ben Cunnington, Shaun Atley and Sam Wright all sporting bad injuries. The Roos are hoping that Swallow and Dal Santo recover quickly for the match, and are hopeful that Todd Goldstein’s knee pulls up well – he is a week-to-week prospect at the moment with an ongoing knee soreness. Daniel Wells continues to be their standout player, and will need to go big again if they are to win this one.
North Melbourne may well have been over hyped as easy draw and a healthy list at the start of the season meant they could get out to a 9-0 record, but in the last four weeks they have gone 2-2 and should they lose again, they could drop to as low as fifth. This looms as a dangerous game for the Kangaroos, and if they want to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with, these are the games they need to win.
It should be another Friday night classic, and Etihad Stadium suits both sides pretty well. The Hawks fast paced ball movement could hurt the Roos on the outside, and without Dal Santo and Cunnington, it could be a challenging time for their midfield. For me, North won’t be on top by the end of the round, and their downward spiral will begin here. Finals is almost a certainty, but top four could be in jeopardy if they continue to fall over the next month. Tight one here but Hawks should win.
Prediction: Hawks by 14pts
This is the second meeting between these two sides this season after meeting in Round 1 at Domain stadium. The Eagles came away 64pt winners and Josh Kennedy kicked 8 goals to get his Coleman medal endeavours off to a rapid start.
The Lions have won only one game since that point, a round four match up with the Gold Coast Suns, before falling away and being soundly beaten over the next eight weeks. Albeit the Lions are young, they were nowhere to be seen against the Dockers on the weekend as it could arguably be seen as one of their worst performances in recent memory. The acid is on coach Justin Leppitsch as his position will continue to be questioned in the weeks to come.
The Eagles aren’t the team they were in 2015, and currently sit eighth on the ladder after their first home loss of the season to the Crows. They conceded seven goals in the last quarter and they are in danger of missing the top four. However, expect Josh Kennedy to have another big day against the undersized Brisbane defence.
Daniel Rich (15 kicks @ $2.75), Dayne Zorko (28 disposals @ $2.35) and Tom Rockliff (14 contested possessions @ $2.37) continue to be Brisbane’s best players each week, racking up the disposals and attempting to get Brisbane going each week, but they just don’t have the cattle to be a good team. West Coast are lacking assertion, and without Nic Nat for the next 6-8 weeks, their midfielders may not get the delivery they have been accustomed to in recent times.
Brisbane will be keen to atone for last week’s dismal display, but it is hard to mount a case for them here. The Eagles will not play as badly as they did against the Crows and will be keen to send a message. Eagles by a lot.
Prediction: Eagles by 89pts
Fremantle v Port Adelaide – Domain Stadium, Saturday Afternoon, 2:35pm AEST
Port Adelaide put up an impressive display against the Bulldogs last week, only losing by three points in a tight affair. The Power should hold their heads high and will no doubt continue their confident run of football.
Going to Perth will be a tough task, but the Power should be able to pull ahead of the Dockers who are on a two game winning streak. Travis Boak (2 goals @ $3.00), Chad Wingard (6 marks @ $2.93) and Ollie Wines (16 contested possessions @ $2.05) played exceptionally well against the Dogs and Jake Neade played nearly his best game in his short career. The Power’s running game nearly got the Bulldogs, and if they can get it going again this weekend, they will no doubt run over the top of Fremantle.
Fremantle played well against the Lions, but it seems their opposition wasn’t there to play, as the Dockers ran rings around the Lions with ease. Lachie Weller has had a strong couple of weeks and was rewarded with a rising star nomination this week. With Pavlich a likely return and Lachie Neale (17 kicks @ $3.70) hungry for the football after being well contained, Fremantle will look to make the most of their opportunity at home.
Perth is a hard road trip but if the Power want to feature in September they have to be able to win anywhere. They are playing some pretty exciting football at the moment and will come with something to prove against the Dockers. Port beat them in Round 23 last season at the Adelaide Oval and will hope for a similar result this weekend.
Prediction: Port Adelaide by 22pts
Western Bulldogs v Geelong – Etihad Stadium, Saturday Night, 7:10pm AEST
Come 10pm Saturday night, we will know if it’s reigning cats or dogs with both teams finding themselves in prime position to claim first position on the ladder.
This is a crucial clash in every sense; it will consolidate a top four spot for the winner, and the confidence to beat the other should they meet in the finals. This is by far the game of the round, and in my opinion one of these two sides will be a grand finalist this season.
History is against the Bulldogs, who haven’t beaten the Cats in eight seasons which includes a few finals meetings. The Bulldogs lost Luke Dahlhaus with a knee injury and the Cats will get back key forward Tom Hawkins after his one-week suspension.
It will be interesting to see if the Bulldogs employ a run-with-role on Patrick Dangerfield (20 kicks @ $3.32), because if they let him run like the Kangaroos did, he will destroy them in the same fashion. The Bulldogs defence has been resolute this season, and will once again hope to hold up against a pretty formidable forward pack with the likes of Hawkins, Motlop (3 goals @ $2.25), Kersten (8 marks @ $3.26) and Lang.
We’re in store for a great contest and it is time that the incumbents step up. The Bulldogs need to make a statement so expect Bontempelli (14 kicks @ $2.55), Liberatore (18 handballs @ $3.68), Wallis (5 marks @ $2.12), Hunter (13 contested possessions @ $2.56) and Daniel (7 marks @ $2.70) to all have a major impact. Redpath has been the key cog up forward and could be the difference.
Prediction: Dogs by 13pts
Sydney v Melbourne – SCG, Sunday afternoon, 1:10pm AEST
The Swans let one slip on the weekend, and would have taken top spot had they won. They now sit third and may not be as assured to premiership glory as many people think. They weren’t given any time and space by the Giants and crumbled under the heat of the battle. They face a resurgent Demons side keen to make an impact in the competition.
The Swans play the SCG very well having not lost a game there all season. They will be happy to return, and should get Teddy Richards back as well who has recovered from his concussion suffered against the Hawks. Kurt Tippett will miss with a knee problem and may be replaced by Toby Nankervis or Sam Naismith in the ruck.
Melbourne played one of their most complete games against the Magpies and ran out 45pt winners on Queens Birthday weekend. Bernie Vince (12 handballs @ $2.01) had 44 disposals, and Nathan Jones (18 kicks @ $2.82) was prolific again with 32 and a goal. Jesse Hogan (8 handballs @ $2.08) played another fine game and continues to have his value rise.
This will be a tightly contested game that features two of the games strongest midfield setups, and both will be keen to give strong accounts of themselves leading into Round 13 byes.
The Swans will be annoyed with how they played against their cross town rivals last weekend so look for Buddy to get plenty of ball and Luke Parker (15 kicks @ $2.59) should return to his best form. Dan Hannerbery (21 contested possessions @ $3.92) has traditionally performed well against the Demons and expect a similar result this time around.
Prediction: Sydney by 26pts
Essendon v Greater Western Sydney – Etihad Stadium, Sunday Twilight, 4:40pm AEST
The Bombers are devoid of any confidence this season and look like a team who is just coasting to the finish line in what is going to continue to be a horrendous season for the club.
The Giants announced themselves once again when they beat the Swans and will look to draw on that confidence against the Bombers. Their midfield will have a day out in this one, with Jeremy Cameron due for a big return and the undersized and undermanned Essendon defence will be his main target.
Callan Ward (16 handballs @ $2.06), Tom Scully (7 marks @ $2.09), Josh Kelly (2 goals @ $4.00), Lachie Whitfield (14 handballs @ $3.95), Heath Shaw (12 marks @ $2.06), Dylan Shiel (19 kicks @ $2.01) and Shane Mumford (6 marks @ $3.35) will all cause serious issues for the Bombers, and those names will all play a massive involvement in the inaugural GWS finals appearance this season.
No problems for the Giants in this one as they will look to boost their percentage in a big way and further decimate the Bombers. They have lost Steve Johnson though with a foot injury and Tim Mohr will be out again for 3-4 weeks with a hamstring strain. Still, there should be no reasons why the Giants can’t inflict more pain on the Bombers, who are going for their 11th straight loss.
Prediction: Giants by 103pts