When North Melbourne jumped into the eight with a resounding with over the Saints a fortnight ago, you just knew it wasn't going to last. Although they fought back gallantly against West Coast last weekend, the ultimately fell short of the 35-point deficit. Carlton, on the other hand, turned their season around by soundly defeating Collingwood last Friday night and receives a huge inclusion in Marc Murphy. Both sides are two of five teams looking for the eighth position, currently held by St Kilda, meaning a victory will be of the most importance.
Fremantle are almost midway through an perfectly timed easy month of football and are hoping to notch at least four wins against lesser opposition in the bid to secure that last top eight spot.They got it off to a great start last week by dispatching the Bulldogs, but it is crucial they don’t drop a game over the next couple weeks. Melbourne are hurt by the news Aaron Davey is out for the year, however the Dockers have lost solid midfielder Nick Lower to concussion. His replacement is Michael Walters, who was sent away from the club in pre-season because of conditioning issues.
One would expect Essendon to run all over Port despite their shocking loss to St Kilda last Saturday. It was the first time the Bombers had been convincingly defeated in 2012 and the bad news was only complied when it was learnt today that Patty Ryder has suffered a serious calf injury. Heath Hocking is also out due to suspension and Michael Hurley is once again side lined with a hamstring issue.
Richmond failed to capitalise on their strong push towards the eight about a month ago and as a result are now stuck in the pack with seven wins. They get another easy beat in Gold Coast this week though.
Probably the game of the round. Collingwood needs to show last week was an aberration and Geelong must prove they can claim a top four scalp. Scott Pendlebury finally returns, but Geelong has a few tricks up their sleeve too: in returns Steve Johnson (who has been spectacular in the midfield this season when played there) and Harry Taylor, replacing the suspended Jimmy Bartel and injured David Wojcinski.
St Kilda was fantastic last week, but their inconsistency is maddening. If they destroy Brisbane, I’ll believe in their chances for a spot in the eight.
Adelaide will do very nasty things to GWS this weekend. In fact, GWS may not win another game this season, it’s that bad.
It’s a shame there is such a discrepancy between the good teams and bad ones in this league. Hawthorn will have their way with the Western Bulldogs and the only real talking point coming into this one is the health of Franklin and Hodge. Both won’t play, but the Hawks came under scrutiny for using the Coleman Medallist in the blowout against GWS. Now Buddy’s hamstring is bleeding and he’ll miss at least three. Not only does it rid them on the game’s best forward, it places extra pressure on a fragile Jarryd Roughead. I’d also like to know how they’re managing Luke Hodge because the champion can’t seem to get on the field this year.
I may have been wrong calling the Geelong-Collingwood match the game of the round, as Sydney-West Coast has a claim to that spot. Teams one and two will go head to head in Perth, an advantage I see too great for Sydney to overcome. Yes, I’m not convinced Sydney is as good as we think.