West Coast vs Melbourne
Optus Stadium 8:10pm (AEST) Friday May 17
Team News: Although Nathan Vardy was solid in the ruck against St Kilda, there’s every chance he’ll make way for Tom Hickey who was the in-form ruckman for the Eagles prior to his hamstring injury. The Eagles will also look at including premiership player Willie Rioli into the side, with Will Schofield likely to miss due to injury.
Melbourne will be forced to find replacements for Michael Hibberd (collarbone) and Jake Melksham (foot), while veteran Jordan Lewis (ankle) will need to face a medical test. There’s options however, with Tim Smith (four goals in VFL last week) and Alex Neal-Bullen the two knocking on the door. Don’t be surprised if fan favourite Braydon Preuss makes a return to join forces with Max Gawn once again.
Prediction: Melbourne are seeking three wins in a row, but the experienced Eagles are too dominant at home. Eagles by 21
Collingwood vs St Kilda
MCG 1:45pm (AEST) Saturday May 18
Team News: The Magpies won’t be forced to make too many adjustments, but they’ll be pleased to see Dayne Beams return to the side. Despite playing his first AFL match for nearly two years, Rupert Wills will likely make way for the former Lion. Mason Cox (ankle) will need to pass a fitness test, so too Josh Thomas (ankle) and Chris Mayne (concussion). Top draftee Isaac Quaynor is edging closer to an AFL debut after 25 touches and 11 marks for Collingwood VFL.
The Saints didn’t face too many headaches in the medical department from their loss against the Eagles, but there’s been plenty of talk around speedster Robbie Young. Both Hunter Clark and Nick Hind have enjoyed solid VFL campaigns, but Young has been closing in for several weeks. Ben Long is the like for like here, and could make way for the debutant.
Prediction: They left the door open for Carlton last week, don’t expect them to make the same mistake against the Saints. Magpies by 31
Brisbane vs Adelaide
Gabba 2:10pm (AEST) Saturday May 18
Team news: Second-year player Zac Bailey re-injured his hamstring early on last round, making way for any of Jacob Allison, Allen Christensen or Rhys Mathieson. Lions coach Chris Fagan will observe Adelaide’s forward line and look at naming re-invented key defender Josh Walker, who was unlucky to miss out last week.
There’s plenty to like about the talent waiting in the wings at West Lakes, but they are in a good position winning the showdown last week. Matt Crouch (hip) sat out before full time against Port, the glaring option to replace him would be Bryce Gibbs but both Paul Seedsman and Richard Douglas are options after both making a full recovery from injury.
Prediction: Adelaide are in good form following the showdown, and their tall forward line will prove too strong. Crows by 13
Geelong vs Western Bulldogs
GMHBA Stadium 4:35pm (AEST) Saturday May 18
Team News: Right up until the bounce the Cats were bringing emergencies in and out of the side, and this week we’re not any closer to knowing the 22 Chris Scott will go with. Joel Selwood is critical to their midfield depth, and will slot straight back in if fit. Despite not putting a foot wrong so far this season, Charlie Constable could face omission for the second time in a matter of weeks, unless the Cats decide Gary Rohan should be rested following a head knock.
For the Bulldogs, Tim English should return after he was a late withdrawal in Ballarat last week. Their injury list is rather small, meaning in-form players in the VFL could come into the side. Bailey Williams was superb against Box Hill and should replace first-year player Lachie Young.
Prediction: Geelong are moving well, upsetting them at home is a difficult task. Cats by 20
Essendon vs Fremantle
Marvel Stadium 7:25pm (AEST) Saturday May 18
Team News: Joe Daniher will want to return after he was managed for the Sydney clash, forcing Zac Clarke’s omission. The other obvious change will come because of the injury to Orazio Fantasia (calf), defensive forward Mark Baguley looms as his replacement.
Connor Blakely has been waiting patiently for his return to senior action, and probably should’ve played against the Tigers. All of Cam McCarthy, Sean Darcy and Taylin Duman are in the mix after a sluggish performance from some Dockers fringe players. Blakely for Ethan Hughes the obvious one here.
Prediction: The Bombers need a lift, and their pace across the ground should help exploit Lyon’s defensive style. Bombers by 11
North Melbourne vs Sydney
Blunstone Arena 7:25pm (AEST) Saturday May 18
Team news: The Kangaroos are desperate to gain the experience of back-line trio Scott Thompson, Marley Wlliams and Luke McDonald this round, after they all missed due to injury. Sam Durdin’s suspension means North only have two to cull. In round eight, first-gamer Curtis Taylor didn’t set the world on fire, and fringe performer Sam Wright was quiet. Nathan Hrovat, Aaron Hall and Paul Ahern were all superb in the VFL.
Lance Franklin has again been ruled out for the fourth consecutive week. Former Cat Daniel Menzel kicked three majors in his first action for the Swans NEAFL side, while Ryan Clarke collected 42 possessions to go with 11 tackles.
Prediction: Difficult one to tip, but North should win pending the return of three key defenders. North by 8
Port Adelaide vs Gold Coast
Adelaide Oval 1:10pm (AEST) Sunday May 19
Team news: It’ll be like for like down back as Riley Bonner replaces the injured Ryan Burton (hamstring). First-year player Zak Butters should come back in after being rested last week, probably at the expense of Aidyn Johnson. All of Kane Farrell, Karl Amon and Steven Motlop were also quiet in the showdown, and Ken Hinkley could swing the axe. Robbie Gray will face a medical, but Port won’t rush him back.
Sean Lemmens will come out of the side after re-injuring his ankle against the Demons, and it’ll probably result in Ben Ainsworth moving forward to allow for Brayden Fiorini’s much-needed return. Jesse Joyce was strong in the NEAFL, and could come in for Jordan Murdoch following a quiet performance.
Prediction: Port Adelaide to put the Showdown behind them with a big win here. Power by 35
Richmond vs Hawthorn
MCG 3:20pm (AEST) Sunday May 19
Team news: Another busy week at the selection table for coach Damien Hardwick. The next ruck in the queue to cover for Toby Nankervis (adductor) is Ivan Soldo, while Daniel Rioli should return for the injured Jack Ross (ankle). Nick Vlastuin is likely to return from an ankle complaint, making way will be Connor Menadue despite some solid form against Fremantle.
Hawks are hopeful for Isaac Smith’s return, which will be important against the Tigers, while Chad Wingard (hamstring) will push for selection. Jack Scrimshaw might come out of the side after missing the second half against GWS. Ben McEvoy should handle Soldo on his own, meaning Jonathan Ceglar will make way for a smaller type.
Prediction: Lack of ruck options won’t harm Richmond’s chances, Hardwick has this side rocking again. Tigers by 12.
Greater Western Sydney vs Carlton
Giants Stadium 4:40pm (AEST) Sunday May 19
Team News: All-Australian defender Lachie Whitfield will be a welcomed return to the side, while Shane Mumford (knee) should replace Dawson Simpson. Zac Langdon injured his ankle but should get up. Matthew Buntine was quiet against the Hawks, the Giants could choose young midfielders Harry Perryman or Jackson Hately as the replacement here.
The Blues are currently facing a defensive crisis, with weekly injuries down back. While Nic Newman will be a handy inclusion, it’ll come at the expense of Tom Williamson (back), who managed just two games before injury struck again. Lachie Plowman (fractured cheekbone) has been resilient this season, but will need a stint on the sidelines. The likely candidate here is former Saint Hugh Goddard.
Prediction: Blues were fierce against the Magpies, but GWS’ inclusions won’t help the underdogs here. Giants by 17.