As we near the halfway point of the competition, the Swans are set to start the Dream Time round with a clash against a struggling Carlton side at the SCG.
The Western Bulldogs face a tough assignment as they look to tame a Demons side who are playing some brilliant attacking football.
Hawthorn venture across to Tasmania and will be looking to continue their stellar record in the Apple Isle when they take on Port Adelaide.
The Suns will welcome Gary Ablett back to the holiday strip when they tackle Geelong. Richmond will battle Essendon in a high-profile clash at the MCG and the Eagles have the chance to grab another win at home against St Kilda.
The Kangaroos will host an improving Brisbane side at home in Melbourne and the Pies will be hoping to convince their supporters they’re to play finals football with an important clash against the Dockers. The Crows tackle the Giants to finish up the round and both sides will be desperate for a win to get their respective season’s back on track.
Swans midfielder Dan Hannebery will notch up his 200th game for the Swans when they open the round against Carlton.
The Blues are in a dark place this season and while they have declared their determination to not chase a priority draft pick, it’s difficult to see them getting a win against the Swans on current form.
Carlton have the fifth youngest playing roster in the league and are crying out for experienced players. In the corresponding game in round 23 last year, the Swans trounced Carlton thanks to a 10-goal haul from full-forward Lance Franklin.
The Blues have struggled this season in front of goal and last kicked 100-points in round 11 2016 and it would take a massive effort from the Blue’s young gun Patrick Cripps to keep his side in the contest. Sydney should run out easy winners in a one-sided affair on Friday night.
Melbourne have another opportunity to flex their premiership credentials when they do battle with an underwhelming Western Bulldogs side at Etihad Stadium.
The Dogs have some serious question marks over the fitness of Aaron Naughton and Zaine Cordy for the clash with a Demon’s side packed with a potent forward line.
After crushing the Adelaide Crows last weekend in the Territory, Melbourne has surged into third place on the AFL ladder and have emerged as a genuine premiership contender.
The Demons have kicked more than 145 points in their last three games and are currently riding a five-match winning streak.
The Bulldogs have struggled for confidence this season and this will be a one-sided affair, with the Demons romping to an easy win.
After a close to the Eagles last week at Etihad Stadium, Hawthorn host Port Adelaide in Tasmania. The Hawks haven’t suffered a defeat in Tasmania since the 2012 season and Port Adelaide are coming off a bye last round after playing the Suns in China and if Port remain focused they should be able to conquer the Hawks in Tasmania.
The Power have had the wood on Hawthorn, winning four of their last six games. The Power are riding a four-game streak, while Hawthorn are in a three-game slump.
The Power should be able to use the rest to their advantage and upstage Hawthorn in Tasmania to record a memorable win.
Gary Ablett will make his first appearance against his former club when Geelong travel to the Gold Coast to take on the Suns.
Tom Lynch will return to the Sun’s line-up after spending a month on the sidelines and the spearhead will be desperate to make an impression against a high-profile Victorian opponent.
The Suns will be desperate to kick-start a good run of form and hopefully enjoy an extended run at home after playing a game away to Port Adelaide in China. The Suns have a hardened midfield, capable of matching Geelong for contest possessions across the middle of the park. Both of these two sides have won two of their last four games and the Suns will be desperate to impress their home fans and Lynch.
The full-forward is yet to commit to the Gold Coast beyond this season and with free-agency looming at the end of the year, the forward may be enticed back to greener pastures in Victoria. The Cats were able to claw their way to a win last week against Carlton and should be too good for the Suns in a physical contest on the sunshine strip.
Essendon were able to turn around their slump last week with a win against the Giants. This week the Bombers face off with the premiers in a high-profile match-up for the Dreamtime round at the MCG. Essendon have been able to breathe some life into their season with surprise victories over GWS and Geelong in recent weeks.
Serious questions have been asked about John Worsfold’s methods at Windy Hill, with the former Eagles mentor coming under intense scrutiny after an aggressive off-season recruitment campaign. The Tigers will be disappointed with dropping their standards over the last two weeks and surrendering top spot on the ladder to the Eagles.
The Tigers struggled to put away St Kilda last week but will rise to the occasion to dominate Essendon this week. Richmond have won the past six straight games against the Bombers and expect them to put a dampener on the celebrations of Essendon forward Jake Stringer who will notch up his 100th AFL game this week after shifting over from the Bulldogs in the offseason.
To everyone’s surprise, the Eagles are still flying high at the top of the AFL ladder and will have the opportunity to edge closer to the club’s all-time streak of 12 straight wins that came back in 1991.
Last week the Eagles showed that they can take their dominant form to Melbourne and were able to put some demons to rest with a strong victory over Hawthorn.
The Saints have struggled all season and are keeping Carlton company at the foot of the AFL ladder. St Kilda suffered a five-goal defeat at the hands of Fremantle earlier this season and the Eagles have won their last five home games by an average of 38-points.
The Saints have struggled in front of goal this season and they’ll have a tough assignment keeping West Coast’s forward line in check.
Alan Richardson will come in for some criticism if his side can’t show some improvement against the Eagles and expect the home team to continue their outstanding form with an easy win.
Before the beginning of the 2018 season, North Melbourne were favourites for the wooden spoon, but credit has to be given to coach Brad Scott for turning his side into a genuine premiership threat.
The Kangaroos were able to cut the Giants down to size last week and currently sit in fifth place on the competition ladder. The Lions showed their true potential against Hawthorn at the Gabba with a memorable win but will face a tough assignment against the Kangaroos in Melbourne.
Brisbane have had a poor record against the Kangaroos and last tasted success with a four-point win in 2014. Lions coach will be hoping that his young cubs show the same level of commitment as they did against the Hawks.
The Kangaroos will be able to record a comfortable four-goal win against an improving Brisbane side.
Fremantle tasted success against the Magpies since 2015 and they’ll have a tough time turning around their season against a Collingwood side on the rise. The Magpies remain in contention for a spot in the top half of the competition but will need to show some consistency at home against the Dockers. Fremantle have one victory in their last five weeks of football and if the Dockers can’t manufacture a win this week then they’ll say goodbye to their chances of playing finals football. The Dockers haven’t managed a win in Melbourne against the Magpies in twelve years and they’ll struggle to contain an improving Collingwood side desperate to play football in September.
The Crows were humiliated in the Territory last week, going down to the Demons by a record 91-points. Adelaide will be desperate to bounce back after an uncharacteristic performance and the Giants will need to brace themselves for a physical contest. GWS have struggled with injuries this season and this clash could be a huge turning point for either club, leading into the bye-round.
The Crows have recorded comfortable victories against the Giants in their last three games at the Adelaide Oval, but will be wary of a side that was touted as one of the favourites for the flag at the start of the season. The Crows represent some good value in the marketplace and I expect them to bounce back to form at home after last week’s horror show.