Round 15 of the AFL boasts a full compliment of matches and is underway with a bang on Thursday night when Richmond play the Swans at the MCG.
Geelong are clear favourites to continue the Bulldogs’ woes on Friday night and we’re set for two outstanding games when the Crows host the Eagles in Adelaide and the Giants square off with the Hawks on Saturday.
There’s no room between Essendon and North Melbourne in betting, before the Lions will travel west to play the Dockers in the final game of the round.
We don’t have to wait long for the match of the round, with reigning Premiers and flag favourites Richmond hosting the 2nd placed Swans at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night.
Both sides are coming off a bye, with the Tigers likely to welcome back midfield gun Dion Prestia and key defender David Astbury. Richmond boast one of the best attacking units in the competition, ranked 2nd in the comp for inside 50 entries, with Jack Riewoldt and Josh Caddy the main beneficiaries of the well-oiled and highly efficient midfield.
The Swans will be hoping Lance Franklin is in a goal scoring mood. The power forward is currently sitting 3rd in the Coleman medal race and is expected to match-up against all-Australian defender Alex Rance in what could be a match defining contest. Rance managed to keep Buddy to just the solitary goal the last time these two sides clashed in 2017 and will be hoping to do the same this time out.
The Tigers are closing in on full fitness and should be able to finish over the top the Swans in what’s shaping to be a close contest.
The only positive we can take from the Western Bulldogs featuring in Friday night football this week is absence of the Carlton Blues.
The Doggies come into this contest on the back of 3 straight defeats, after narrowly going down to a much-improved North Melbourne outfit by 2 points. The 2016 premiers are a far cry from their best footy having lost 12 0f their previous 16 matches going back to last year. The expected return of key defender Marcus Adams will provide a much-needed match up against Tom Hawkins, who could otherwise have a field day at the Etihad.
The Geelong Cats hold a dominate record against the Western Bulldogs, winning the past 11 encounters between the 2 sides. With the Doggies last victory coming back in 2009! Patrick Dangerfield will be looking to continue tormenting the out of sorts Doggies, with the electric midfielder racking up 74 possessions across the sides last 2 meets.
Geelong should bounce back from their defeat to the tigers, easily taking care of the wounded Dogs.
Thirty-Four-year-old veteran, Kade Simpson will be making his 300th professional appearance for the Blues when he runs out onto the MCG to face the in-form Power.
Carlton will be out to honour the long serving half-back with an unlikely victory against a far superior opponent. The Blues come into this fixture after putting up a good fight before going down to the Pies by 20 last week. Patrick Cripps was the Blue’s shining light once again while Charlie Curnow added to his highlight reel with a couple of ‘Jesaulenko-esc’ hangers!
Port Adelaide have been moving from strength to strength of late, with their midfield firing off all cylinders. The Power are leading the competition in clearance averaging 42.2 per game. With the Blues primary ruckman Matthew Kreuzer surrounded by an injury cloud the Power could really assert their authority in the middle of the ground.
It’s going to take more than mark of the year contenders and 300th game celebrations to stop the rampant Port at the G this Saturday.
Saturday’s afternoon fixture at Adelaide Oval is make-or-break for the Crows’ campaign, while West Coast will look to bounce back from successive loses.
The Crows have had a rough time of it this year, with last season’s runners-up failing to spread their wings in 2018. Stemming from an underdone pre-season camp, the once hungry Adelaide outfit look both mentally and physically drained. Although the Crows remain one of the top sides in contested possession, they are struggling to turn their hard ball gets into scoring opportunities. Don Pyke’s side will be looking to avoid their 5th straight defeat against a vulnerable Eagles line-up.
West Coast also have had to endure a few hardships of late, with both their gun key forwards Josh Kennedy & Jack Darling missing through injury. After cruising to a 10-1 record in the opening 11 rounds the Eagles have now lost 2 games on the trot and have slipped to 3rd on the ladder behind the Tigers & Swan on scoring percentage alone. West Coast were stunned by an enthusiastic Don’s outfit at home last round, with the Bombers rocketing to an 8-goal lead early in the first half. The Eagles rallied in the second as ultimately poor kicking in front of the goal costing them the match.
Adelaide head into this fixture as the favourite according to the bookies, a favouritism which hasn’t been justified on the field of late. The Ruck combination of Nic Nat and Scoot Lycett may prove to be too much of a challenge for Sam Jacobs through the middle of the ground, giving the Eagle the perfect attacking springboard.
Saturday evenings clash at the Metricon Stadium is set to be a formality, as the high-flying Pies take on the setting Suns.
The Suns will be deflated following their sickening lose to fellow bottom feeder the Saints, where they blew a 7-goal lead in the last quarter to ultimately go down by 2 points. Apart from last rounds tight loss the Suns have been incredibly uncompetitive across the park.
Alternatively, the Pies are looking formidable at the moment, recently seeing off top 4 rivals Melbourne with ease. Collingwood midfield unit dominating through the middle of the ground, with Brodie Grundy in career best form. Ace midfielder Adam Treloar will be missing through injury; however, the Pies have a ready-made replacement in the destructive Jordan De Goey.
The match of the day comes to us from Spotless Stadium as the Giants play host to the Hawks. This game could have huge ramifications for the finals chances of both sides, especially in the case of the injury withered Giants.
After a shaky start to the season the Hawks have worked their way back into form and now stand on the brink of the top 8, with only % separating sixth placed Melbourne to ninth placed Hawthorn. Clarkson’s side come into this clash off the back of 3 straight wins, the latest of which was a stroll in the park against a dejected Suns outfit. The Hawks look in tip top shape both physically and mentally, only missing experience campaigner Shaun Burgoyne through a hamstring injury.
The Giants will be without Jeremy Cameron as the star forward is likely to receive a lengthy suspension after delivering a sicking elbow to Brisbane youngster Harris Andrews’ head, leaving the backman with bleeding on the brain. Failure to win this contest could spell the end of the Giants finals hopes, with the Western Sydney side set to face 5 of the top 8 teams during their run into September. With two of their élite offensive weapons out, the Giants may struggle to make an impact on the score board against a well-drilled Hawks side.
Melbourne look to get back to winning ways as they welcome the struggling Saints to the G on Sunday.
The Dees’ positive momentum has been haltered in the past few weeks and dropping points to fellow top 4 hopefuls Collingwood and Port. After being handed a favourable draw by the AFL, Melbourne has established themselves as flat-track bullies. Simon Goodwin’s side’s only win against a top 10 side came back in round 3 versus the 8th placed Roos. Leading the comp in contested possessions, the Demons will back themselves though the middle of the ground where the Saints have struggled in the past.
Despite sitting in 16th place on the ladder, St Kilda have been playing a competitive brand of football. Alan Richardson’s side will be full of confidence leading into the clash at the G, after completing a miraculous comeback to defeat the Suns after being down 39 points leading into the final term.
Although the Saints will battle hard across the ground, they will surely struggle to match the Dees scoring prowess.
Essendon’s finals aspirations hang in the balance as they welcome the Roos to Etihad Stadium.
The Dons have well and truly turned the corner since their disappointing start to the year, with some wonderful displays of high pressure & attacking football. The Bombers have now won 4 from their last 5 matches and look to take the game on from the opening siren, scoring the first 8 goals against West Coast in Perth last round. New recruit Jake Stringer is starting to find the form which garnished him with the nickname of “The Package”, booting 3 in the opening quarter last week.
The Roos were lucky to escape last round with a 2-point victory over an under strength Western Bulldogs side, with Roos’ skipper Jack Ziebell saving the day with a goal at the death. North Melbourne have continued to silence their critics this season currently sitting inside the top 8 ahead of Hawthorn on scoring percentage. A big part of their success comes off the back of Coleman medal leader Ben Brown, who’s 40 goals has him sitting 5 ahead of the recently suspended Jeremy Cameron and 9 in front of last year’s medallist Buddy Franklin.
If Cale Hooker can keep Ben Brown quiet, then the Dons are in for a big chance to keep their slim finals chances alive.
If round 15 started with a bang, the fireworks are well and truly over by the time the Lions travel to Perth to take on the Dockers in what could be an absolute fizzer.
The Lions have remained ‘competitive’ throughout the 2018 season, which is hard to say for a team sitting second last with a 1-12 record. The young Brisbane side has shown plenty of potential, which should provide what’s left of their loyal fan base something to look forward to in the coming years. The developing side’s biggest issue at the moment is their first quarter performances and are yet to find themselves leading at the end of the first period this season!
The Dockers are chasing their 3rd win on the trot after seeing off the Crows in a tight finish at home before putting on their performance of the year against the lifeless Blues, kicking 12 unanswered goals in the first half! Freo’s young players have been showing real quality of late, especially rising-star Andrew Brayshaw who has racked up 20+ disposals in successive matches.
The Lions are yet to win an interstate match this year and that trend looks set to continue as the Dockers look continue their hot run of form.