Hawthorn is the form team of the competition, dropping all who come before them. Check out their run dating back to Round 10: 115-point win over North, 48-point win over Port, 65-point win over Brisbane, 50-point win over Carlton, 162-point win over GWS, 72-point win over the Western Bulldogs, 47-point win over Collingwood. Hard to argue with those numbers plus the two big returns in Guerra and Hodge to help.
On the other hand, Essendon have lost two of three with both losses coming against top eight contention teams. A lot of it revolves around the play of Jobe Watson. He racked up 29 disposals last Friday night against Geelong, but it wasn’t considered a good game by his standards. Highly pressured, Watson managed just 67 percent disposal efficiency, similar to their Round 15 loss to St Kilda where he managed 23 at 70 precent.
E In: Winderlich, Hocking, Browne Out: Dyson, Myers, Dell’Olio
H In: Guerra, Hodge Out: Murphy, Cheney
This will be another worth watching as Adelaide takes on the Cats at Skilled Stadium. Adelaide have won four in a row, including last week’s impressive demolition of the Eagles, but Geelong were just as impressive with a bounce back win against the Bombers after a poor loss to the Pies.
Adelaide have an elite midfield, but Geelong’s are right there with them, bolstered by the return of Jimmy Bartel. It might come down to which big forward has more of an impact: Tom Hawkins or Taylor Walker- not exactly two guys you’d want to be counting on to deliver a late season win.
G In: Bartel, Christensen Out: Murdoch, Scarlett
A In: Walker, L Thompson Out: Otten, Tippett
North has played their way into the eight and will remain there with a win against the lowly Demons. They will be in a cross-country fight with Fremantle to see who can win by the most- they are separated by 1.6 percentage points.
M In: Moloney, Sellar, McKenzie Out: Petterd, Magner, Couch
They weren’t too impressive against the Hawks so they get just what the doctor ordered: some GWS.
C In: Wood, Buckley, Clarke, Sinclair Out: Jolly, O’Brien, Thomas, Sidebottom
GWS In: Smith, Adams, Patton, Edwards, Cameron, Cornes Out: Clifton, Aylett, Bruce, Ugle, Whiley, Wilson
Everything is on the line for both clubs in this one. Richmond are playing their way out of a finals appearance with two disastrous losses to Gold Coast and North in consecutive weeks. Carlton have showed just enough, and I mean just enough, to suggest they could threaten for the eight spot, although it does seem highly unlikely considering their form after Round 6.
C In: Kreuzer, Davies, Lucas, Tuohy Out: Russell, Bower, Duigan, Watson
R In: King Out: O’Hanlon
Sydney has played as well as just about anyone over the last month or so. GWS will provide no problem.
GC In: Stanley, May, Hine Out: Rischitell, Day, J Hall
S In: Dennis-Lane, Parker Out: Everitt, Mumford
This is a big game for the Dockers. Dropping this one will really make it tough for them to sneak into the eight. What’s concerning is that last week’s thrashing of GWS was the first time they’ve convincingly beaten a below-par foe this year and if you’ll recall, their rubbish mid-season form hit in when they struggled to put away Gold Coast and Port at the one-third mark of the season. This is a game they could drop…
The good news is the return of Nathan Fyfe. What a superstar this kid is. Hopefully that reconstructed shoulder is OK and he’s not coming back to early because when he was playing earlier this season he was the gun orchestrating their success. Captain Matthew Pavlich has also been in ridiculous form over the past six weeks.
P In: Pfeiffer, Hitchcock, Redden, Jacobs Out: Pittard
F In: Dawson, Mayne, Fyfe, Neale Out: Clarke
St Kilda-Western Bulldogs
The Dogs have been a disgrace this season.
S In: Ray, Wilkes, Ledger Out: None yet
WB In: Hargrave, Addison, Roughead, Jones, Smith, Johannisen, Dickson Out: Djerrkura, Higgins, Austin, Cordy
Pick: St Kilda
West Coast Eagles-Brisbane
The Eagles may not be in crisis mode, but the last two weeks haven’t been pretty. Brisbane shocked them earlier this year, but it would have to be an outrageous performance for them to do it again.
WC In: Hill, Shuey, Weedon, McInnes Out: Newman
B In: Hawksley, Beams, McKeever, Docherty, Wrigley Out: Cornelius, Polec
Pick: West Coast