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Essendon vs Hawthorn
Match of the round. The tops two sides play each other on a Friday night and it will (in the words of Bruce MacAvaney) be SPECIAL.The Bombers have surprised many by continuing to win despite a few injuries, the ASADA investigation and some average form. But wins are wins. Hawthorn have only lots two games this season and both were to their bogey side Geelong. Hawthorn have been the best side in the AFL this season, and should win this game. Hawthorn by 26 points.
Gold Coast vs Carlton
A magnificent win by the Suns last week against Collingwood will make Carlton nervous. Travelling to what is fast becoming a fortress up on the Gold Coast makes it difficult for any interstate team. Carlton have had some good wins recently against St Kilda and North Melbourne, and this will have given the side momentum and a deal of confidence. Carlton should have the class to get over the top but don’t be surprised if the Suns come out firing. Carlton by 6 points.
Melbourne vs North Melbourne
North Melbourne need to resurrect some respect and will need a substantial win over the Demons to prove they can be a force next year. Otherwise supporters and the commentators will start to question what happened. Melbourne is still a pretty average team despite improving under Neil Craig. North Melbourne by 30 points.
Collingwood vs Greater Western Sydney
Collingwood had a shock loss to the Suns last week, and GWS pushed the Bombers for three quarters. While the Giants have improved, they still haven’t won a single game this season. Make no mistake, Collingwood will not falter this week. Their season is on the line. Collingwood by 42 points.
Geelong vs St Kilda
Geelong suffered a tight loss to the Crows, and have dropped to third on the AFL ladder while St Kilda have dropped two very close games (against Carlton and then Port Adelaide). Geelong will be pumped after their loss to the Crows, and will be aiming to get back into the top two. Expect a big game, as these sides have history. Geelong’s class and hunger should give them a win. Geelong by 30 points.
Fremantle vs Adelaide
Fremantle travelled to Melbourne and got beaten by the Tigers, while Adelaide had a great win at home over the Cats. Both sides have played well recently, but it was disappointing to see that the Dockers dropped the game against the Tigers (making a top four finish seem more difficult). At home, Fremantle will have a solid advantage and they should beat the improving Crows. Fremantle by 18 points.
Port Adelaide vs Brisbane
Port Adelaide have been quite the revelation this year, beating some good sides and sitting in the top eight. Brisbane has played some good football and beaten both Geelong and Essendon. Surrendering a 40 point lead to St Kilda, and almost losing highlighted the Power’s inconsistency. But Brisbane have also been volatile with their performances. A good win lat week against the Demons is a positive but unlikely to indicate that the Lions are the force they were ten years ago. At home, the Power should have the advantage and continue to notch up solid wins. Port Adelaide by 24 points.
Western Bulldogs vs West Coast
The Western Bulldogs were gallant going down to the Hawks in Launceston last week. The Eagles lost at home against their nemesis the Swans. The Bulldogs have been led by some decent young kids and some outstanding play by Ryan Griffin and Will Minson. The quality of the Eagles should get them over the line – even though the game is in Victoria. West Coast by 24 points.
Sydney vs Richmond
Should be a good game, with both sides craving another win at the pointy end of the year. Sydney travelled to Perth and beat the improving Eagles which was a solid win. Dan Hannebery is again being talked about as potential Brownlow winner. The Tigers had a good win at home against an excellent Dockers side, and that should provide some confidence. At home, Sydney should be too strong. Sydney by 18 points.