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The Swans are 0-2 and after an improved showing last week in the grand final rematch, they’ll be looking to register their first points of the season against a Collingwood side who’ve been competitive, but at the same time, haven’t looked like winning in the opening two rounds.
Kurt Tippett will miss due to an ankle injury with either Callum Sinclair and Darcy Cameron in line to be his replacement as Collingwood lack of key talls could be put to the test as Lance Franklin – playing his 250th game – and Sam Reid come into the game in ominous form.
The Pies could ring in a host of changes with Jamie Elliot a chance to make his debut for the season while Travis Varcoe will return from suspension. Mason Cox, Lynden Dunn and Matthew Scharenberg are all chances to be included in the squad.
It could be an old school backyard battle between the Reid brothers should they line up on each other during the match – one that’ll have viewers glued to their TVs given the form of the pair.
Sydney were impressive in parts last week and will be looking to string together four quarters and should take home the four points. The hosts are favourites to win at $1.30, while Collingwood is paying $3.55 for the win with UBET.
Swans by 18.
North Melbourne v Greater Western Sydney
Blundstone Arena, Saturday Afternoon
North will welcome back gun ruckman Todd Goldstein while key defender Scott Thompson will miss through suspension which may cause concern for Brad Scott as Jonathon Patton could return to join an inform Jeremy Cameron up forward.
GWS were impressive against Gold Coast last week and had ball-winners all over the park as Cameron and Toby Greene combined for 11 goals and start this games favourites at just $1.16. Will Setterfield could be a chance to make his AFL debut after a strong showing in the NEAFL.
While North were good last week, GWS look to have been played into some form and look the goods to get the chocolates at North’s home away from home.
Giants by 22.
We could be in line for a belter at the ‘G on Saturday afternoon as the yellow and black army look to improve their record to 3-0 against Josh Kennedy (favourite for the Coleman Medal at $2.25), Sam Mitchell and co.
Ben Griffiths’ concussion opens up an opportunity for Mabior Chol to come in and strut his stuff while Kamdyn McIntosh or Anthony Miles will be vying for the spot vacated by Shane Edwards. Richmond were ordinary at best last week but found a way to win, something that couldn’t be said for those performances in previous years however will need to be much cleaner with their possession to topple the high-flying Eagles.
The Eagles, fuelled by a final quarter burst, powered past St Kilda at home last week and will be searching for their second win in Melbourne in the opening three rounds.
Elliot Yeo leads the league in intercept possessions averaging 11 per game while the Eagles midfield is stacked with ball winners headed by Andrew Gaff who has had 36 touches in each of his first two outings.
Richmond will have to take control of that battle if they are to curb the quick delivery to Kennedy up forward – who doesn’t require many touches to put his stamp on the game.
West Coast should be too classy and polished for a Richmond side still looking to hit their straps in 2017.
Eagles by 28.
Geelong v Melbourne
Etihad Stadium, Saturday Twilight
Brownlow Medal favourite Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood put the Cats on their back last week to record a one-point win over North Melbourne however Cats fans can’t have been too happy with the performance in a shootout.
A win nevertheless, but the cats lost the contested possession and tackles count – two area of the contest they often pride themselves on.
Melbourne meanwhile are also 2-0 and managed to scrape their way to a win last week against the Blues but come up against the Cats without key duo Jordan Lewis and Jesse Hogan, who sit out due to suspension.
Bernie Vince returns for Melbourne to bolster their midfield however Hogan’s absence leaves coach Simon Goodwin with a bit to think about. Jake Spencer, Cam Pedersen and Tim Smith are all options for the rookie head coach.
Geelong’s -78 hitout differential – the biggest in the league – means the Cats will consider including Zac Smith in the team to take on Max Gawn, which could mean either of Mark Blicavs or Rhys Stanley could miss out. While the work of their midfield has masked over the issue somewhat, Chris Scott has certainly taken notice.
Cam Guthrie looks likely to miss due to a calf injury as Jed Bews and Sam Menegola loom as his likely replacements.
There’s no doubting that suspensions to two of their key players will hamper the Dees and we think it’ll be enough to see the Cats get home quite comfortably, as their odds suggest, with the Dees ballooning out to $3.40.
Cats by 25.
Port Adelaide v Adelaide
Adelaide Oval, Saturday Night
Because ‘The Showdown’ isn’t big enough, the two South Australian-based teams sit atop the AFL ladder after two rounds and have quite comfortably been the most convincing teams over the opening fortnight of the season.
Injuries to key players have overshadowed the build-up however, with Adelaide’s Josh Jenkins and Port’s Robbie Gray both in doubt for the match. Port’s Jack Hombsch will be out for up to a month with a knee injury.
Jenkins is less likely out of the two to play after copping a rib-tickling knock at high speed following a collision with Hawthorn debutant Teia Miles. Gray, meanwhile, is suffering from a groin straight following a dominant 30 possession, six goal game last week against Fremantle.
As for who will (try to) shut down the elusive Eddie Betts, Nathan Krakouer’s name will be up for discussion at the selection table despite not having played since the JLT series. Half backs Jasper Pittard and Hamish Hartlett are also a chance to be included to provide the Power some run from their defensive 50. Jackson Trengove is likely to fill the Hombsch void in defence.
Both teams run at high speed. Both teams like to score and more importantly, know how to. One team will suffer their first loss of the season come Saturday night while the other will have bragging rights until next time.
This has all of the makings to be a classic.
Crows by 3.
Fremantle v Western Bulldogs
Domain Stadium, Saturday Night
When push came to shove last week, the Bulldogs put their foot down and impressed a lot of people with their win against Sydney.
A lot of teams would’ve rolled over when Sydney staged their final quarter comeback but the Dogs showed why they’re the premiers, halting the Swans momentum thanks to match-winning plays from ‘The Bont’ and ‘The Package’ (Marcus Bontempelli and Jake Stringer).
The Dogs came away from that game unscathed and travel to Perth to face a Fremantle side reeling following an 89-point thumping at the hands of Port Adelaide last week.
Earlier this week, Ross Lyon said he has no hesitation in playing more kids this early in the season.
Harley Balic and Griffin Logue are two players with the potential to be handed their debuts come Saturday night. Sam Collins and Sean Darcy impressed in their respective hit-outs last weekend while Hayden Crozier and Tommy Sheridan are another pair in contention for a senior call-up.
As for the result, the Dogs should have no troubles running rings around a hapless Fremantle side whose fans are crying out for a bit of pride in the jumper.
Dogs by 65.
St Kilda v Brisbane
Etihad Stadium, Sunday Afternoon
St Kilda will go into Etihad Stadium on Sunday with the attitude that nothing short of four points will satisfy them.
And so they should.
After a blistering opening quarter against Melbourne, they barely saw the Sherrin for the remainder of the game before getting run over the top of in the final quarter last week against West Coast.
A spirited loss doesn’t count for anything for a team with finals hopes.
Dylan Roberton has been one of the Saints’ best over the opening fortnight of the season and will look to continue his strong form this week.
Brisbane put in a stirring performance – particularly in the second half – last week against Essendon however coach Chris Fagan has said he’s in no mood for honourable losses. The Lions have had a number of youngsters who’ve impressed in the opening rounds including Eric Hipwood and Harris Andrews while Dayne Beams has been superb as captain thus far.
What’s also encouraging is the young players knocking down the door to be included in the senior side include Josh Schache and draftee Jarrod Berry while Hugh McCluggage also played in the reserves as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Brisbane could go in unchanged however Fagan will be excited at the level of talent at his disposal.
If Brisbane can combine their opening half from round one and second half from round two together, they’ll definitely give St Kilda a big scare but this game seems too big of a game for the Saints to drop.
Saints by 19.
Carlton v Essendon
MCG, Saturday Afternoon
These two traditional rivals go head to head on Sunday with the two sides in contrasting positions so far this season.
Essendon head into the clash with the expectation of staying undefeated following wins against Hawthorn and Brisbane. They’ll be bolstered in the ruck department with Matthew Leuenberger set to be named for his first game this season while John Worsfold has a number of options to replace Ben Howlett following a hamstring strain.
The Bombers have been impressive in patches this year and are now just $1.90 to make the finals and will be looking to string together a four quarter performance this Sunday.
Carlton could be without star midfielder Patrick Cripps after suffering a hairline fracture of the jaw last week against Melbourne. Sam Kerridge looks like the man to replace him while veteran Rhys Palmer and Blaine Boekhorst could also be included in the forward line.
Carlton haven’t been disgraced by any means in the opening two rounds but lack the polish required around the contest and going forward to do any serious damage.
In saying that, if there’s one clash the Blues are always up for, it’s this one.
Essendon by 28.
Gold Coast v Hawthorn
Metricon Stadium, Sunday Twilight
Jaeger O’Meara comes up against his former side for the first time this weekend but all eyes will be on one particularly bald man on Sunday afternoon.
Gary Ablett has copped a lot of media criticism this past week on the back of his performances so far this season and will be out to prove a point this weekend.
For the Suns as a team, they may as well have gone home after quarter time in each of the first two games because that’s when the game has been put to bed. They’ve been terrible – barring a 45 minute stretch in the second half against Brisbane – and Rodney Eade will be simply looking for his side to compete.
For the Hawks, they’ve started 0-2 and a lot of people have jumped off them as a premiership contender, they have dropped to $17.00 for the flag. But surely you have to have some faith in a four-time premiership coach.
Recruits O’Meara and Tom Mitchell have found enough of the ball, now it’s just a matter of putting it to better use.
The Hawks should be too good for the Suns and continue their perfect record against the expansion outfit however they will be a lot more that comes out of this game than the result.
Hawks by 35.
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