Roos v Blues - Both are coming of good wins and both have eyes on what is above them on the ladder. Carlton has looked improved since Waite has returned and everything is clicking nicely for them, so much so that their injury list is looking reasonable and they had several options to bring decent players in. Interestingly they chose to only bring in one, and keep a winning side together. The Roos have also made one change forced by injury, but frankly Hale's form wasn't much chop anyway. North will battle hard but Carlton probably has enough on each line to take this game, and they have some serious class too. North are still developing, and whilst they have players that will be great, they aren't their yet. Blues by 30. Chance for the upset (the non-tipped team winning) 30%
Hawks v Crows - The Hawks are actually in form, which is a surprise to many considering 3 of their recent wins have been unconvincing, but a win is a win and they have 4 on the trot. The Crows have just 3 for the year, and really haven't looked that flash. A few big outs and a big in with Bock, probably doesn't match the in of Franklin for the Hawks. The Hawks should be good enough to win this easily, based on formlines and talent. They have a midfield that is starting to find some form, Buddy back which really gives their forwardline a focus and a surprisingly well performed backline of late. The Crows will have the edge in ruck, but it won't be too significant, and I wonder where their goals will come from (last week was one out of the box). The big question for both teams is who is going to run out. Hawks have been unconvincing, Adelaide are Jekyl and Hyde. Hawks by 35. Chance for the upset 40%
Bombers v Cats - The Dons will try to run and great the lines. If they do it well enough they are some chance. But, and its a big but, Hille is out. He has been their most important player over their last 4 weeks (3 wins and an excellent effort against the Swans). The Cats have their own injury concerns with a cloud over Pods and Mooney out. So both teams will be changing structure a bit. Sadly for the Dons we're talking about the Cats. They are simply too good for a mediocre team. Cats by 50. Chance of an upset 10%
Port v Swans - Port have been in woeful form and don't let their comeback against the Hawks fool you, they played for 1 and a 1/2 quarters last week. They just simply can't play 4 quarters and they are carrying too many passengers. Losing Tredrea hurts (as I keep saying) their structure and goal scoring options. The Swans haven't been that bad, and they got a great win against Essendon in a hard match. I think the Swans are a better side, but the homeground advantage can do wonders; pity Port hasn't really used it this year. Swans will win it by 18. Chance for the upset 40%
Tigers v Eagles - Battle of the cellar dwellers. Both aren't good sides and both are young. The Eagles have the edge on experience but the Tigers have been showing a harder edge. The Tigers need some more support for Reiwoldt, he cannot win matches off his own boot, and they need more scoring options. The Eagles need to do exactly what they did against the Cats minus the stupid turnovers. I can see this going either way, but I'm tipping the Tigers (still riding that high from when I tipped them successfully the other week) by 21. Chance of the upset 49%
Dogs v Lions - Tough game to pick. The Lions were dreadful for a half and brilliant for a half to just miss out last week. The Dogs are just all over the shop. Just when I thought they were coming good they lost to the Dons and Pies (no shame there) but its more the nature of the losses...exactly like Brisbanes last week; come from way behind. Its hard to win matches doing that so someone is going to have to try and be the front runner. Both are enigmatic sides, the Lions probably more so. The Dogs are definitely better on paper, but they'll lose this unless they screw their heads on straight. Their midfield should do well, but their forward line needs to capitalise. The Lions need to curb the Dogs mids and dominate with Browny and Fev and have a few other things go right. The Dogs will win it by 15 but the Lions aren't without a chance of the upset, 40%
Freo v Saints - Probably the match of the round (in interest anyway) due to their ladder positions. A win to either gives a valuable break, a loss and suddenly their closer to the snapping Blues. Freo have been excellent all year, and whilst they had a down game last week, perhaps they were ripe for the picking having had to travel and also deal with a legend's retirement. The Saints remain unconvincing and I question how their dour style will go on the big ground. Sandilands will dominate which gives first use to Freo's mids, which in turn creates pressure further down the field where the Pav lurks. The Saints will be hard at it but exposed for pace and have a one man forward line. Sadly it isn't Reiwoldt, but Milne. And they will not beat a quality side with Milne up front. Freo by 30. Chance of the upset 30%
Dees v Pies - The Dees are finally demonstrating a game style, and its worth watching. Like the Cats they use corridor when they can, but unlike the Cats they are inexperienced and young. The Pies in contrast use the wings and probably have the best rebound from defensive 50 in the game. They've also started zoning this season, and they've been very good at it. I would expect the Dees corridor use to fall straight into the Pies hands, and the Pies run away with it. The Dees really need their forward line to fire, and frankly aren't giving it their best chance as they haven't dropped Watts (yet). He has been woeful in the last couple and needs a spell. Their backline should actually do pretty well, and their mids will too, but structurally they aren't mature enough to handle a tight outfit in the Pies and they'll eventually be overrun. Pies by 30. Chance of the upset 30%.