Note: All win probabilities brought to you by Stats Insider.
MCG, 7:50pm AEST, Friday August 16
Team News: Big Braydon Preuss collected a whopping 75 hitouts and 21 disposals in the VFL, and is a strong chance to come in for Oscar McDonald to help stretch the Swans defence. The near-certainty however, defender Marty Hore has averaged 27 disposals in his three games at VFL level – an obvious replacement for Steven May (hamstring) who has played his final game of the season.
First-gamer James Bell had just the six touches on debut, while Robbie Fox was also quiet. Either of James Rose or Kieran Jack may be welcomed back, but it’s Michael Knoll who could be brought in to help young ruck Hayden McLean against Max Gawn. We’ll have to wait to the final round of the year to see if Lance Franklin will play his 300th, it will come at home against the Saints.
Prediction: A dead rubber game, will we see the return of tanking? Dees by 7.
MCG, 1:45pm AEST, Saturday August 17
Team News: A disappointing end to a rollercoaster year for Liam Jones, who will be sidelined for the final fortnight with a throat injury. Hugh Goddard is the like-for-like, but Blues could opt for a quicker backline by bringing in Angus Schumacher or Liam Stocker. Midfielders Matt Kennedy and Paddy Dow have impressed in their two weeks of VFL action since omission. Blues may lean towards pushing Levi Casboult back, and play Kennedy out of full forward.
Depending on Carlton’s team, the Saints could recall Nathan Brown for the lighter Ben Paton. While Nick Coffield (shoulder) will need a replacement, it might be time to promote Jimmy Webster after two form-building games playing for Sandy.
Prediction: Confirmation of the ‘Teague Train’ and Cripps’ 100th will help a strong outing. Blues by 11.
Gabba, 2:10pm AEST, Saturday August 17
Team News: Can’t see the Lions shake things up for this one, but after the NEAFL Lions secured their 16th consecutive win then there’s bound to be players with their names in the ring. Rhys Mathieson collected 31 touches and may be wanted for some aggression, but its a fairly empty injury list for the current Lions.
A lot for both teams to prove, but Geelong will be desperate here. Charlie Constable had a blinder for the reserves, while James Parsons and Rhys Stanley played their role. Zac Smith was a late out last week, he’ll push Mark Blicavs to defence, meaning Lachie Henderson or Jake Kolodjashnij may make room. Irishmen Mark O’Connor (toe) will face a fitness test prior to the match. Tom Atkins suffered a hand injury at training this week, and remains in doubt.
Prediction: Lions at home, but it’ll be one for the ages. Lions by 2.
Adelaide Oval, 4:35pm AEST, Saturday 17 August
Team News: Rory Sloane appears set to play despite suffering a serious eye injury, while Alex Keath would be a welcomed return but remains without a time frame. Hugh Greenwood was fierce at SANFL level with 10 tackles, and will come in if Sloane isn’t up to it.
The Magpies have speedy mid-season recruit John Noble providing enough, while Tyler Brown and Ben Crocker will be looked at in an attempt to match Adelaide’s pace. Josh Daicos is recovering from concussion, which will make room for Noble. The club confirmed that star duo Darcy Moore and Jordy De Goey won’t be rushed back this week.
Prediction: Difficult tips seem to be the story of this round. Crows in a tight one due to home advantage. Crows by 8.
Marvel Stadium, 7:25pm AEST, Saturday August 17
Team News: Rhyce Shaw will agree that nobody’s spot is safe after a bleak showing from the Roos. After announcing his retirement throughout the week, Scott Thompson suffered a concussion during the Geelong game. Young defenders Sam Durdin and Ben McKay will be given an opportunity here. Nathan Hrovat has collected a bunch of footy the past two VFL games, he’ll be in contention no doubt.
A slick performance from Port last week, and they’ll have the option of bringing Will Drew, Scot Lycett or Steven Motlop in from the SANFL team – all three were outstanding. Zac Butters may return from injury, while Ryan Burton (hamstring) is pushing for selection. Cam Sutcliffe will make be forced out for Butters after the former Docker had just six disposals against Sydney.
Prediction: Ken Hinkley has these guys moving nicely at the right time, calling a big win here. Power by 25.
Optus Stadium, 8:10pm (AEST), Saturday August 17
Team News: With the Dockers season done, it’s only right they say farewell to Hayden Ballantyne and Aaron Sandilands at home. Potential inclusions Brennan Cox and Cam McCarthy will offer tall targets, while Trav Colyer might face his old side to inject some pace into the match.
The struggling Bombers make the toughest trip in football, and will come up against a vocal ‘Purple Army’. All of Darcy Parsish (concussion), Aaron Francis (neck) and Adam Saad (hamstring) are all pushing their case, while a number of others know it’s now the time to break into the team, as they push for September action.
Prediction: Fremantle to make Essendon’s finals case a lot tougher, Dockers by 8.
MCG, 1:10pm AEST, Sunday August 18
Team News: The match of day shouldn’t disappoint, lifting the occasion to a new level will be Damien Hardwick when he brings back premier midfielders Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin. Jack Graham was sublime against Carlton, so he’ll remain. Its two of Dan Rioli, Shai Bolton and/or Jack Ross (who was a late in). Cult hero Mabior Chol might need a rest, opting for the speedy big Noah Balta instead.
Every chance the reigning premiers go in unchanged, but there’s Tom Cole, Chris Masten and excitement machine Jarrod Cameron all waiting patiently. Liam Duggan and Nic Naitanui are nursing injuries in an attempt to play finals footy.
Prediction: The last two premiers going head to head with a home final within arms reach, difficult to split. If Dusty and Cotch return, Tigers by 10.
Greater Western Sydney (55%) vs Western Bulldogs (45%)
Giants Stadium, 3:20pm AEST, Sunday August 18
Team News: It’s a big week on the track for Josh Kelly, Matt De Boer and Harry Himmelberg who will be hoping to boost this team with their inclusions. While fitness tests will prove the trio above, there’s still worries around Jeremy Cameron (hamstring), Brett Deledio (calf), Jacob Hopper (hamstring) and Jeremy Finlayson (hamstring). Anything could happen with Leon Cameron’s squad, but expect a handy extended bench.
Will Hayes’ 22 possessions was enough to be given another week, while Cal Porter and Rhylee West dominated for Footscray and are hungry for senior action. A dominant win from the Dogs will likely result in no changes.
Prediction: The Giants need to earn their stripes after a poor month. Bulldogs by 14.
Marvel, 4:40pm AEST, Sunday August 18
Team News: A farewell game for Jarryd Roughead comes at a time where Mitch Lewis may need a break. The Hawks still believe they can make finals, and righty so considering their history. Don’t expect to many changes, but they’ll look to also bring in Ben McEvoy and Jack Gunston.
Free agency target Jack Martin responded well to his omission, and will return for one of Anthony Miles or veteran Michael Rischitelli. Defender Jesse Joyce is a promising player, and may be given another spot before years end.
Prediction: Alastair Clarkon’s side will win comfortably. Hawks by 50.