AFL Round 23 Preview
Fremantle v Collingwood
@Patersons Stadium on Friday 8.30pm
The flag favourites are flying with only one loss for the year (against Geelong) and finals ahead, the other has lost it’s last five games and on the track of missing the top eight. Last week Brisbane pushed Collingwood to 18 points whereas the Dockers were pathetic against the Kangaroos losing by 98. Although Collingwood has lost its past five matches versus Fremantle at Subiaco, they will take home the four points; they are strong up forward, down back and have a dominant midfield. The game within a game here involves Dane Swan – he averages more possessions against the Dockers than any other club.
Verdict: Collingwood by 38.
Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs
@MCG on Saturday 2.10pm
Similar to the preview for the round’s opener, these two clubs have different outlooks – one to September, one to 2012. The last time the Hawks and Dogs met was round 10 at Etihad Stadium, a game where Hawthorn outclassed their opponent and dominated possession. In or soon to be in rebuild mode, the questions that the Dogs coaching staff will be asking is ‘who will play stop Hawthorn’s dynamic forwards including Coleman Medal favourite Buddy Franklin and game breaker Rioli?’
Verdict: Hawthorn by 26.
Geelong v Sydney
@Skilled Stadium on Saturday 2.10pm
Scarlett, Mackie, Milburn and potentially Tom Hawkins return after a week with their legs up on the couch with a bye. Sydney face AFL’s toughest test, that being defeating the Cats at Skilled Stadium. If Geelong is successful, it will be their 30th consecutive win at home. The hosts have beaten Sydney in their last four outings, one of which was played in Geelong and resulted in a 126-59 victory. The last time the Swans beat the Cats in down the highway was 11 years ago…when Tony Lockett booted through 6 majors.
Verdict: Geelong by 43.
St Kilda v North Melbourne
@Etihad Stadium on Saturday 7.10pm
The game of the round as 6th plays 9th on Saturday night in Melbourne. This contest presents us with two midfields who possess depth, Nick Riewoldt under significant pressure to perform and an injury cloud, and in-form and potential All-Australian Drew Petrie in the Kangaroos forward 50 who will face double to triple teaming. St Kilda has had the edge on Boomer’s chargers including five of the last 6 games. Over the last few weeks the media and coach’s spotlight has been on the poor delivery of the ball to Riewoldt – will that play a part on Saturday night? A question for the Kangaroos is can they beat the Saints if Petrie is subdued?
Verdict: St Kilda by 8.
Brisbane v West Coast
@GABBA on Saturday 7.10pm
These two haven’t met since round 19 last year and what a thrilling game it was with a Jonathan Brown goal with only seconds remaining on the clock. In that match, Brisbane and West Coast were playing to not be ‘awarded’ the wooden spoon. While the Eagles have gone on to better and brighter things, the Lions have remained near the bottom of the ladder. Brisbane performed well last week against Collingwood and again face a tough test this week at home. Playing at the GABBA gives Brisbane a show however West Coast is in superlative form with the last three wins over eight goals.
Verdict: West Coat by 25.
Adelaide v Richmond
@AAMI Stadium on Sunday 1.10pm
1999 – the last time Richmond travelled to Adelaide and went home with the win. Another stat to note is that the Tigers have a terrible track record against (13 losses from the last 15 contests. Stand-in coach Mark Bickley has his team performing at higher levels than earlier in the year and should hold off the tiger challenge. Just don’t expect Thompson to get another 51 disposals.
Verdict: Adelaide by 12.
Melbourne v Gold Coast
@MCG on Sunday 2.10pm
A long season has caught up with the leagues newest club and this week they travel south to Melbourne to face the Demons at the MCG. I will keep this short and sweet – if Melbourne can pick up where they left off last week against Richmond and bring that hunger for the ball, they will win well. However, if Ablett runs around and dominates the clearances and inside 50s, well the Suns may well close a shocking season for Melbourne.
Verdict: Melbourne by 38.
Essendon v Port Adelaide
@Etihad Stadium on Sunday 4.40pm
Has there ever been a less competitive team in the AFL than Port Adelaide in 2011? The last time these two clubs met was round 7, 2010, resulting in a Power 109-106 triumph.
Verdict: Essendon by 81.