It’s as close to a do or die game for the Saints as possible. They have easier draws in GWS then Carlton to round out the season, but a loss on Friday night will effectively eliminate them from top 8 contention. It’s not that much prettier for Geelong. Currently seventh in a pack featuring Fremantle, North and Essendon, they are still a chance to fall from the 8, although at this point that seems unlikely.
Tom Hawkins overcame last week’s heavy knock to the head and will play. Unfortunately for the Saints, Nick Riewoldt’s omission is a big one. Instead they will be hoping Beau Wilkes can step up like he did during the captain’s absence last week.
S In: Blake, Schneider, Ray Out: Riewoldt, Ledger, Dunell
G In: Corey, Chapman, J Hunt, Kelly, West Out: Sheringham, Stephenson, Christensen, Guthrie, Wojcinski
Another game with huge finals ramifications, Carlton’s fate stands exactly as St Kilda’s does. A win away from the 8 with Gold Coast and then the Saints in round 23, the remaining three games are must wins.
Essendon has been falling further with each passing week. The big loss to North was their fourth in a row and now sitting eighth, just a percentage point and a half above Fremantle, the trend suggests the Bombers won’t play finals footy. Carlton will be a test, especially with Chris Judd returning from suspension to aid Marc Murphy in the middle, but the Bombers big inclusions will be enough.
E In: Stanton, Ryder, Hooker, Zaharakis Out: Lovett-Murray, Gumbleton, Colyer, Baguley
C In: Judd, Duigan Out: O’Keeffe, Watson
Clash of the Titans- these two powerhouses should provide a classic for the ages.
Worth noting, GWS are paying some very juicy odds.
GWS In: Adams, Tyson, Haynes, Greene, McDonald Out: Treloar, Bugg, Tomlinson, Hombsch, Cameron
M In: Frawley, Couch, Watts Out: Moloney, Bate, Magner
If Fremantle win, they should slot into the eight. If they don’t, the chance of a finals appearance will fade fast. As it stands Richmond are already out and they are the same club Fremantle used to turn their season around mid-year with a win in the wet at the MCG. The ankle is apparently not an issue for Nat Fyfe- he’ll play.
F In: McPharlin, Fyfe Out: Roberton, Neal
R In: O’Hanlon Out: Conca
The Magpies want the minor premier tag and North is as good a challenge as one would want. A handy eight-point win against top placed Sydney last week was another consistent reminder this team is likely to win it all in 2012 and the news of the Dayne Beams resigning is one less distraction around the club.
North has been in blistering form since powering towards and into the 8; they have won eight of nine since the round 11 bye; and will provide a tough matchup for the Pies. Despite last week's injury losses, their form, plus the return of one Ziebell, has me almost leaning North’s way. Upset?
C: no change
N In: Thomas, L Delaney, Ziebell Out: Wells, Grima, Adams
Expect Adelaide to run all over Brisbane as they attempt to catch Sydney’s ridiculous percentage of 146.6 points.
A In: Knights, Tippett, Brown Out: Johnston, Riley, Smith
B In: Maguire, Crisp Out: Banfield, Wrigley
Port Adelaide-West Coast
West Coast want a top 4 spot; it is almost impossible to win the flag from a position lower than fourth; and although they likely won’t get past the Hawks, Port is as good a start as any (Collingwood and Hawthorn in the final two rounds says the Eagles are primed to fall).
Pick: West Coast
PA In: Carlile, D Stewart, Young, Wingard, Jonas Out: Chaplin, Hartlett
WC In: Brown, Strijk, Dalziell, Stevenson Out: Swift
At opposite ends of the spectrum, the Bulldogs have been disgraceful in 2012 while the Swans have been dominant.
WB In: Cooney, Griffen, Markovic, Higgins, Cordy, Jones, Wood Out: Hargrave, Sherman, Grant, Hooper
S In: Morton, Spangher, Meredith, Reid Out: Dennis-Lane
Expect a 120+ point win with Franklin returning and Rioli out.
H In: Roughead, Franklin, Shiels, Savage, Duryea Out: Gibson, Rioli
GC In: McQualter, Coad, Magin, Toy, Flanagan, Nicholls, Hickey, Schade Out: Patrick, McKenzie, Swallow, Allen, A Hall