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Last week: 5

Season total: 84

Friday July 17

North Melbourne V Essendon

Etihad Stadium, 7.50pm (All times local time)

Have North Melbourne finally turned the corner? Will last week’s impressive performance against Geelong now become the regular effort they dish up week in, week out? Knowing the Kangaroos, that’s unlikely, but we can dream. Nonetheless they should still comfortably account for the Bombers, who only just managed to beat Melbourne by nine points last week and still have the WADA investigation hanging over the club. North will want a big win to prove they are actually finals contenders and not just pretenders. Expect Roos’ ruckman Todd Goldstein to have a field day with Essendon once again going into the game without a recognised ruckman. The Roos have won four of the past five against the Bombers.

North Melbourne by 30

Saturday July 18

Geelong V Western Bulldogs

Simonds Stadium, 1.45pm

Geelong has won seven matches in a row against the Bulldogs and 11 of 13 since 2007. But the Bulldogs are currently sixth on the ladder after 15 rounds with nine wins this season, compared to Geelong’s six wins in 11th spot. It is the first time in a long while the Dogs start a match against the Cats above them on the ladder, and rightly so, as their form has been outstanding this year. The fortress down in Geelong will suffer another blow, with the Bulldogs upsetting the Cats at Simonds Stadium. Geelong has some big outs in Selwood and Rivers.

Western Bulldogs by 14

Gold Coast V GWS

Metricon Stadium, 2.10pm

The Suns have some big outs with Dixon and Swallow both out injured in this battle of the expansion clubs, while the Giants will be without Dylan Shiel, possible for the rest of the season. The Suns have been brilliant the last two weeks since Gary Ablett’s return to the side, but will it be enough to overcome GWS, who have put in some giants performances of their own lately. At home, I’m backing the Suns to continue their recent good form and get the job done in a highly entertaining contest.

Gold Coast by 12

Collingwood V West Coast

Etihad Stadium, 4.35pm

Collingwood will be keen to break their three game losing streak, but it is going to be mighty difficult against an in-form West Coast who have won 10 of  the past 11 matches. The Pies will be missing Jamie Elliot and Taylor Adams which will hurt, while the Eagles go in unchanged, such has been their consistency over recent weeks.

West Coast by 18

Sydney V Hawthorn

ANZ Stadium, 7.20pm

This is being touted as the match of the round, as last year’s grand finalists and two sides who could possible meet in the big dance once again, clash at ANZ Stadium. A win for the Hawks would see them move into third spot and give them a real chance of finishing inside the top two. Sydney players might want to borrow some thigh guards from Shane Watson now that he has been dropped from the Australian Test team, as they look for the best way to prepare for Sam Mitchell’s errant knees during the match. I’m tipping the Hawks to continue their on the edge aggression that has seen them win six games in a row to beat the Swans.

Hawthorn by 8

Fremantle V Carlton

Domain Stadium, 5.40pm

The Dockers may still be a game clear on top of the ladder, but make no mistake, they will be furious with last week’s dismal performance against Hawthorn. The Blues have been far better since John Barker took over as coach, but unfortunately for Carlton, Freo will come out firing and record a huge win to win back some respect after a 72 point loss to the Hawks in round 15.

Fremantle by 40

Sunday July 19

Melbourne V Brisbane

MCG, 1.10pm

Both sides will count this week’s game as very winnable. The Dees were expected to win against Essendon last week, but failed to deliver, so they should be very keen to get the points against Lions. Brisbane has won the past five against Melbourne, however, they have only beaten Melbourne once at the MCG since 2000. Melbourne to just get over the line at home.

Melbourne by 16

Port Adelaide V Adelaide

Adelaide Oval, 2.50pm

This will be an extremely emotional game, as late coach Phil Walsh was heavily involved with both of these clubs over the past few years. The two sides will run through the banner together before resuming hostilities for Showdown 39. The Adelaide players showed last week that they will struggle to play good footy while they’re still in mourning. It will be an entertaining game, but Port Adelaide should get the win, particularly on the back of a very solid win against Collingwood last Thursday night.

Port Adelaide by 20

St. Kilda V Richmond

Etihad Stadium, 4.40pm

Another emotionally charged match for this round, with the game dedicated to the late sister of St. Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt and cousin of Tigers’ forward Jack. Both teams have been playing some good footy lately, but Richmond have won seven of their past eight and have recorded some huge upsets in that time and should beat St. Kilda to continue their push for a top four spot.

Richmond by 22