After descending into mediocrity, Carlton now face a team that have had their measure in recent times. Essendon looked awful up until a few weeks ago, when Hille and Fletcher, were missing but they’ve responded to a royal torching of their coach by putting together a couple of impressive performances. The Carlton players on the other hand have been torched by their coach this week and if Carlton are not with Essendon at quarter time it could be ugly. On the hand Carlton could also click and just as easily give the bombers a fair beating. Unfortunately with these two teams, someone has to win.
Essendon by 25.
Sydney Swans v Hawthorn
This will be a hard fought match. Sydney must win this to have a hope of staying in the eight. In past years they could stifle Hawthorn and I’m expecting that they’ll control Hawthorn’s space on the SCG. Hawthorn have lost their sting and without Rioli and with no prospect of a final four position they could be caught off guard.
Sydney by 8
North v Fremantle
There were probably some very lucky punters who got good odds on North earlier in the week. But then there was a massive ‘out’ for Fremantle - in more ways than one. No Sandilands, Tarrant and Ballantyne after the loss of Barlow and their team is shot. Playing away, together with the let down which follows a big win against West Coast will not help either. North are not a bad team and should end up in the eight at the end of the season. They will now be confident coming into this game.
North by 32.
Geelong v Collingwood
With so many good games this weekend, I expect the one that everyone is talking up will be a bit of a disappointment. I’ll be watching it though, because I enjoy watching Collingwood get belted. So many Collingwood players have been playing above their ability in recent weeks, but they will get a dose of reality this weekend. Looking forward to those images of Eddy grimacing and shaking his head.
Geelong by 49.
West Coast v Brisbane
Both teams will be desperate to win this game - having each only managed one win in the last ten rounds and with the wooden spoon staring them in the eye. The Brisbane team is taking shape again, with Fevola not being a significant loss on current form, and they could have easily rolled Melbourne last week. But I can’t see West Coast let this game slip in front of their home crowd. Expect Jonathan Brown to do everything humanly possible to get the Lions up against an undermanned West Coast defense but the West Coast have greater scoring power and a big home town advantage .
West Coast by 17
StKilda v Port Adelaide
Looks to be the most unevenly matched contest of the weekend. Port have played well over the last few weeks but, despite St.Kilda looking a bit unsettled in recent times, the Saints won’t be worried at Etihad. I would be surprised if there is much entertainment value, however it could be interesting to see how Matthew Primus tackles the saints’ style of play and the form and progressive reintegration of Nick Reiwoldt could be worth noting.
Saints by 29
Melbourne v Richmond
On paper, Melbourne should be able to cover Richmond fairly easily, including the much heralded Reiwoldt. Having said that, the dees have the unfailing ability to disappoint at any time. This year they lost games against North and West Coast to upset good runs of form and the Tigers don’t roll over so easily nowadays. Control of the centre clearances should give Melbourne’s developing forward line enough opportunities to score. Forget about their prospects of making the eight, Melbourne’s greatest impetus is coming from the fact that for the first time in years there are good players pushing for selection in the twos.
Melbourne by 58
Adelaide Crows v Western Bulldogs
The bulldogs are running into form now and have a top four spot well and truly in their sights, so it’s tempting to predict a convincing win over Adelaide. The crows have been disappointing over the last two weeks and are unusually erratic for an Adelaide team. I expect the crows to put up a bit of resistance, however the bulldogs should overrun them in the second half.
Bulldogs by 45.