This proves to be a big game for both sides, who are looking to cement their spot in the top 8 and make a push for the top four.
However, the Tigers are in desperate need of a response from the past two weeks which have been comprehensive losses at the hands of ladder leaders Geelong and a rejuvenated North Melbourne outfit led by interim coach Rhyce Shaw.
Despite the long list of injuries to their star players such as Trent Cotchin, Shane Edwards and Jack Reiwoldt, the Tigers must find a way to bounce back after a horrible fortnight of football. They lose their skipper (Cotchin) and stand-in captain (Edwards) for Thursday’s night match but can take a lot of confidence from their shock win against the Power earlier this year at Adelaide Oval, where they were in a similar position of having their backs up against the wall.
Richmond, who sit 7th on the ladder, desperately need a win as a loss could result in them being out of the eight come the end of the round. Coach Damien Hardwick still possesses his small, quick fleet of forwards which is pillared by star Tom Lynch as well as boasting Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin and Dion Prestia playing good footy in recent times. A loss here would make it three consecutive losses for the Tigers heading into the bye. As the season starts to pass and the top eight starts to emerge, Richmond must hold on until they regain some of their regulars, otherwise their finals campaign could be in question.
The Essendon v Hawthorn game looms as the match of the round, with a lot of history between the sides but also the chance to play finals dangles in front of both of them. Essendon (10th) and Hawthorn (11th) both have showed signs that suggest they should be in the eight, with the Hawks smashing the Giants and the Dons almost snatching an ANZAC Day thriller from the Pies earlier in the season.
But recent form for both sides is a bit questionable, with both sides winning two of their past five games before heading into the bye. Now refreshed and looking to kick-start their season, the Hawks and Dons take to Marvel Stadium on a Friday night. Essendon must start a tough stretch of games for them with a win, as they play the Eagles (away) and the Giants in the coming weeks.
Similarly to the Dons, the Hawks come up against the Swans and the Eagles before the Pies as their next month will determine whether or not they make finals in season 2019. Both teams have their next few weeks cut out for them and a win Friday night can go a long way to being September bound.
The 2016 premiers are a team that has flown under the radar in relation to criticism and scrutiny as they boast a 4-7 win/loss ratio and sit 15th on the AFL ladder. The Bulldogs’ past three weeks have been nothing less than disappointing with comprehensive losses at the hands of Geelong, North Melbourne and the Eagles before heading into the bye.
The Dogs, coming up against a battered, yet renewed Carlton who is led by interim coach David Teague, are pegged to take the W on Saturday Night at Marvel Stadium. However, an inspirational win against the Lions led by superstar Patrick Cripps sees the Blues as a worthy opponent, whilst under new direction, it can prove to be tricky for the boys down at the kennel.
A loss here would make it four consecutive losses for Luke Beveridge’s men, which could result in some potential personnel changes throughout the club. The next month for the Dogs is going to test them as they come up against Premiership fancies Collingwood and Geelong but also the Power (away) in between.
Despite the Carlton game, the Bulldogs are tipped to lose those three and a loss against the Blues could see a seven-game losing streak at the end of round 16.