Friday April 8
Port Adelaide V Essendon
Adelaide Oval, 7.20pm ACST
One week ago this clash would have been touted as an incredibly one-sided affair. However, as we all know, a week is a long time in football.
The Power were humiliated by the Crows in the Showdown in Round 2 and Essendon recorded one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, with a 13-point victory over Melbourne, filling Bombers’ fans will optimism and Port fans with cause for concern.
Port will be missing three of its best players for the clash, with Hamish Hartlett (hamstring) and Jay Schulz (back) set to miss another week, while Chad Wingard has also been ruled out with a hamstring strain.
The Bombers will be full of confidence, will several young guns showing promising signs for the future in last week’s win, including a blistering game from Joe Daniher, who pulled in a whopping 15 marks.
But against a Port side smarting from a disappointing loss, Essendon will be unable to repeat last week’s heroics.
Prediction: Port Adelaide by 38
Saturday April 9
St Kilda V Collingwood
MCG, 1.45pm AEST
Collingwood certainly got out of jail last week against Richmond to steal the four points. The Saints on the other hand were humbled by the Bulldogs after a positive showing the week prior against the Power.
Both sides have a lot to play for, with a loss sure to place intense pressure on Nathan Buckley and his Collingwood side, after many experts predicted big things from the Pies in 2016.
The Saints have not beaten Collingwood since Round 3, 2010, including an 80-point loss in the corresponding round last year. Travis Cloke and Jame Elliot, who is missing with a back injury, ran riot last time, booting nine goals between them.
St Kilda will push the Pies all the way, as they did with Port in Round 1, but Collingwood should prove too strong when it matters.
Prediction: Collingwood by 18
Richmond V Adelaide
Etihad Stadium, 2.10pm AEST
Oh Richmond, just when we all thought this year would finally be the year for consistent performances after three consecutive finals appearances, you manage to lose the unlosable.
The Tigers will be furious with themselves after last week’s last gasp loss to Collingwood, but it won’t be easy to get back on the winner’s list, with a red hot Adelaide waiting to take on Hardwick’s men.
Prediction: Adelaide by 24
Sydney V Greater Western Sydney
SCG, 4.35pm AEST
No longer considered the little brother in the Sydney derby, as Giants’ co-captain Callan Ward put it, this should be a brilliant match, with GWS full of confidence after an upset win over Geelong last Sunday.
But the Giants will have to be at their absolute best to even get near the Swans, who have started the season in great touch, winning the first two matches of the year by a combined 140 points.
If the Swans can curb the influence of ruckman Shane Mumford, it will go a long way to winning the key midfield battle and securing the four points. Mumford was phenomenal last week, collecting 33 hit-outs and recording an equal team high five tackles.
Prediction: Sydney by 20
Gold Coast V Carlton
Metricon Stadium, 7.25pm, AEST
The Suns are off to a flyer in 2016, with a thumping win over a depleted Essendon followed up by a huge upset over last season’s minor premiers, Fremantle.
The promising thing for Gold Coast fans is the fact that Gary Ablett only recorded 23 disposals last week, yet the Suns were still able to get the job done.
Aaron Hall has enjoyed an outstanding start to the season with 36 possessions in Round 1 and 32 in Round 2, while Tom Lynch has booted nine goals in the opening two games.
The Blues are definitely showing good signs of development under new coach Brendon Bolton, but will be no match for a far more polished Gold Coast side in 2016.
Carlton has won four the five encounters between the two sides.
Prediction: Gold Coast by 29
West Coast V Fremantle
Domain Stadium, 5.40pm AWST
The Western derby is always fiercely contested and throw in Fremantle’s poor start to the season and it is a simply massive match with huge ramifications for the loser.
The Dockers haven’t lost their opening three games to a season since 2009 and will be hard pressed to make the finals, let alone finish in the in the top four with a 0-3 start.
We were singing the Eagle’s praises after Round 1 but they were delivered a reality check last week by Hawthorn and will be eager to bounce back.
West Coast ended a run of six consecutive derby losses, with a 24-point win in Round 20 last season against the Dockers.
Expect a big week from Josh Kennedy, who was held to just one goal by James Frawley against the Hawks in Round 2.
Prediction: West Coast by 22
Sunday April 10
North Melbourne V Melbourne
Blundstone Arena, 1.10pm
The Kangaroos have beaten the Demons in their last 14 encounters, including five wins over 50 points.
North Melbourne has enjoyed its best start to a season in 11 years and key forward Jarrad is in career best form, booting eight goals in the opening two rounds.
Meanwhile fellow forward Jesse Hogan is under the pump for the Dees and needs a big game , after two poor showings.
The Roos have won the past six at Blundstone Arena and have only lost two of nine matches at the venue.
Despite few experts tipping the preliminary finalists to finish in the top four, on current form it is hard to mount a case against North pushing deep into the finals once again.
Prediction: North Melbourne by 36
Western Bulldogs V Hawthorn
Etihad Stadium, 3.20pm
This clash between the three-time reigning premiers and the up and coming Bulldogs has footy fans salivating. It will be a great test for the young Western Bulldogs side and will be a chance to test themselves against the benchmark in the competition after two great wins to start the season.
The Hawks are unbeaten in their last seven against the Dogs, but make no mistake, the young pups fear nobody and will push Hawthorn all the way.
Lachie Hunter has come of age, with 31 and 35 disposals in the first two rounds.
Meanwhile, Luke Beveridge will want to keep Hawks’ defender Josh Gibson and former captain Sam Mitchell on tight leashes after they ran riot against West Coast last week with 44 and 37 disposals respectively.
The Bulldogs will be gallant, but it is difficult to see them beating the Hawks who did a number on the Eagles last week.
Prediction: Hawthorn by 17
Geelong V Brisbane
Simonds Stadium, 4.40pm
The Cats will be bitterly disappointed with the narrow loss to the Giants last week and what better way to rectify things than with a home game against the struggling Lions.
Geelong has won eight of the past nine against Brisbane, as well as the past nine at Simonds Stadium.
Tom Hawkins enjoys playing against the Lions, averaging 3.5 goals in his past eight games against Brisbane and he has started 2016 in solid form, with five goals from the opening two games.
Prediction: Geelong by 41