AFL Round 9 Preview

The Crows will be looking to consolidate their position in the top four when they take on the Western Bulldogs at the Adelaide Oval.

The Kangaroos have a real opportunity to get back in the top eight when they take on a GWS side on a downward spiral.

The Suns will be hoping to turn around their fortunes against Port Adelaide and Geelong will be looking to take advantage of Essendon’s woes.

The Swans will be looking to continue their outstanding form against the Dockers, while Collingwood will be expecting nothing less than a win against St Kilda.

Former Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge will get the opportunity to test himself against his former side, but the match of the round sees the Eagles take on the premiers in a battle for top spot on the ladder in Perth.

Adelaide Crows v Western Bulldogs
Crows to cover the line (-34.5 points)

Adelaide Crows forward Eddie Betts will make history this week when he becomes the 42nd player in league history to play 100 games for two clubs.

The Crows will be out to rebound from their five-point loss to local rivals Port Adelaide and the Bulldogs will be wanting to prove that they have turned a corner against a potential premiership contender.

The Bulldogs have won their games against teams at the bottom end of the ladder and the game against the Crows will be a true measure to see if they have returned to the type of form that helped them breakthrough for a premiership in 2016.

The Adelaide Oval has been a graveyard for visiting sides and the Bulldogs winning one game in four attempts at the venue.

The Crows have Bryce Gibbs running one of the best engine rooms in the competition and Adelaide will be hungry to inflict some real pain on the scoreboard and they’ll be able to do it easily. Adelaide are good value to cover the line in a win that will help cement their place in the competition’s elite.

North Melbourne v GWS Giants
Nth Melbourne to win by 1-24 points ($3.30)

The loss to West Coast at home last week means the Giants are in danger of missing their premiership window, after consecutive preliminary finals appearances. GWS were expected to go one step further in 2018, but instead, have been hammered by injuries across the early part of the season and face a rejuvenated Kangaroos side.

Brad Scott’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ have been playing some excellent footy this season and their appetite for the contested ball has helped them to wins over Hawthorn and the Swans. The Kangaroos have an imposing record at Blundstone Arena, winning 11 of their last 13 clashes and will be boosted by the inclusion of Ben Jacobs and Jed Anderson in the midfield.

The Giants two-game slump has seen their scoring average drop to 60 points across the last four games and it’s time for their talented group of on-ballers including Dylan Shiel, Callan Ward and Stephen Coniglio to make a real contribution.

Their disposal options against West Coast at home were poor and they were unable to beat an Eagles side missing some of their best players. The Giants have won their last two games against the Kangaroos by more than 70-points, which also includes their last visit to the Apple Isle in Round 3 last year.

It’s time for the GWS to hit the panic button on their season yet, but they’ll struggle to match the North Melbourne’s desire for a physical contest. The Kangaroos will run out winners by more than four goals.

Gold Coast v Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide to beat the line (-39.5 points)

For the second year in succession, these two teams will be looking to win the hearts and minds of a new audience as they take this showdown to China. If history is anything to go by this could be a one-sided affair with Port Adelaide coming off a derby win and the Suns having a shocker last round.

After a promising start to the season, the Suns have gone backwards and are in the midst of a three-game slump. Tom Lynch and Sam Day will be missing for the Suns through injury and suspension and they’ll have a tough time finding an avenue to goal.

The Power were beaten by the Gary Ablett version of the Suns last time in 2011 and the Gold Coast will struggle to match the Power for intensity. Port Adelaide will this game comfortably and the only positive for the Gold Coast from this game will be the boost to their frequent flyer points.

Essendon v Geelong
Geelong to cover the line (-29.5 points)

2018 was meant to be the season that Essendon turned a corner, but instead, their roster has ended up like a certain Marvel movie and you have to wonder who’ll be around for 2019. The Dons made all the right moves by guaranteeing the long-term future of coach John Worsfold but his players have simply failed to deliver on the field. Worsfold have won premierships as a player and as a coach at the Eagles and his tough as nails approach has simply not worked on a group of players who had their spirits broken last week in the loss to Collingwood.

Geelong have surged into third spot on the ladder and with momentum on their side, they also regain the services of spearhead Tom Hawkins who returns from suspension this week. The Bombers got the victory against the Cats in the corresponding match last year, but it’s difficult to have any faith in tipping the Bombers who have been lifeless since their win over Adelaide early in the season. Geelong should be able to enjoy the open spaces of the MCG for a second week in succession with a win against Essendon.

St Kilda v Collingwood
Collingwood to beat the line (19.5 points)

The Saints only win for the season came against the Lions in the first round and it’s been awhile since their supporters have tasted a sustained run of success. St Kilda won’t be playing finals football this year and will struggle to have an impact against a Collingwood sign that has shown real signs of improvement in 2018.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has done an admirable job managing expectations and the Pies will be determined to bounce back from last week’s loss the Cats at the MCG. St Kilda won their last clash with Collingwood at Etihad Stadium but if the Pies play to potential then they’ll get the three points.

Sydney v Fremantle
Sydney to win by +25 points ($1.70)

The Swans will be happy to have found some winning form after an epic but controversial win over Hawthorn at the MCG. The Swans will be without Lance Franklin for another week with the spearhead missing with injury and Sydney coach John Longmire will be hoping that Ben Ronke can repeat his seven-goal effort against the Dockers.

Fremantle have shown some promising signs of improvement this season thanks to the outstanding form of skipper Nate Fyfe and expect the Fremantle midfielder to remain firmly in the Brownlow Medal conversation if he can avoid injury and suspension this year. Callum Sinclair will have a massive test when he faces off against Aaron Sandilands in the ruck contest and will need Sydney’s midfield to lend a hand in support. The Swans have enjoyed considerable success against the Dockers in recent times and there’s no reason why that won’t continue at the SCG.

Carlton v Melbourne
Melbourne to beat the line (-33.5 points)

The Blues recorded their first win last week to end a horror to start to the season and while there’ll be a sigh of relief around Princess Park, Brendon Bolton’s men face being brought back to reality this week.

The Demons were ruthless against the Suns last week, showing no mercy to a side lacking a genuine goal-scoring option and they need to repeat the performance this week.

Matt Kreuzer’s battle with Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn will determine the outcome for Carlton and the Demons will need to curb the influence of Patrick Cripps.

The Blues will be happy to be on the board, but Melbourne have a real opportunity to boost their percentage here in what should be a convincing win for the Demons.

Hawthorn v Brisbane
Hawks to win 1-39 points ($2.15)

Former Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge will be looking to lead from the front when he takes on his former side at the Gabba. The Lions are without a win this season and Chris Fagan’s men have shown glimpses of potential that should have Lions fans excited about the prospect of their side’s future.

While the Lions won’t be reaching the level of the Leigh Matthew’s years just yet, Hawthorn will provide a real test for a Brisbane side very much in development.

Hawthorn will be frustrated by last week’s result and expect the Hawks to come and take out their frustrations on the Lions at the Gabba. While the Lions haven’t tasted success against the Hawks for a number of years, expect them to push Hawthorn in what could be a close match. The Hawks are good value in the marketplace to grind out a four-goal win.

West Coast v Richmond
West Coast to win ($2)

The best was saved for last this round with the Tigers battling the Eagles for the top spot on the ladder in Perth. The Eagles were able to chalk up a win on the road in Sydney without some of their key players and will be going for the eighth successive win, something they haven’t achieved in 13 seasons.

The Eagles regain Nic Naitanui and Jeremy McGovern is on track to recover sooner than expected from a calf injury. The Eagles forward line combinations are firing and the Tigers backline led by Alex Rance faces a real test.

The premiers have a fantastic record in the West, winning five of their last six games in Perth. The two best attacks in the competition go head to head in what could be a shootout at Optus Stadium. While the Tigers have Dustin Martin, the Eagles are playing with confidence and the one-sided home crowd will help them get across the line.

I’m backing the Eagles to get the upset win and take the top spot on the ladder from Richmond