CATS V SWANS
At Simonds Stadium, Geelong, 7.50pm
RECENT RECORD: Geelong 6 Sydney 4
LAST TIME: R19 2015: Geel 14.11 (95) def Syd 9.9 (63) in Geelong
LAST ROUND: Geel bye; Syd (79) lost to WB (83)
WHILE Kieren Jack’s mum has hijacked the lead-up to her son’s 200th game by airing the family’s dirty laundry, the Swans have more important things to worry about. After their surprise loss to the Bulldogs at home, and being denied top spot, the Swans (10-4) head south facing the prospect of a second straight defeat and falling to sixth or seventh. They have lost 10 of their past 11 in Geelong, and past three straight. The Cats (10-4) will look to bounce back at home after their own shock loss to St Kilda.
GIANTS V MAGPIES
At Spotless Stadium, Sydney, 1.40pm
RECENT RECORD: GWS 0 Collingwood 4
LAST TIME: R11 2015: Coll 18.11 (119) def GWS 11.11 (77) at the MCG
LAST ROUND: GWS bye; Coll (57) def Carl (45)
COLLINGWOOD is yet to be beaten by GWS – but all good things must come to an end. The Giants (10-4) have certainly come of age since they last played the Magpies, who have regressed further. Travis Cloke kicked five goals in that clash – he’s booted 10 in 13 games since. Injuries to Phil Davis (calf) and Matt Buntine (hamstring) leave holes down back for the Giants, but they will rely on midfield domination. They are now the No.1 clearance team in the comp (averaging 40.4), while the visitors sit last (with 32.4). They have also averaged 104 points in their past five games to the Magpies’ 62.
SUNS V LIONS
At Metricon Stadium, Carrara, 4.35pm
RECENT RECORD: Gold Coast 3 Brisbane 7
LAST TIME: R4 2016: BL 14.23 (107) d GC 14.10 (94) at the Gabba
LAST ROUND: GC (108) def StK (68); BL bye
MICHAEL Rischitelli becomes the first player to notch 100 games with both Queensland clubs. His rejuvenated team (4-10) should celebrate his milestone with a win after its impressive display against St Kilda when the big spine of Tom Lynch, Peter Wright, Sam Day and Rory Thompson took 46 marks between them. They look too big and too strong again. But, the Lions (1-13), who should welcome back vice-captain Dayne Zorko, will, of course, have other ideas having upset the Suns’ applecart last time, triggering a 10-game losing streak.
BULLDOGS V TIGERS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 7.25pm
RECENT RECORD: Bulldogs 6 Richmond 3 Drawn 1
LAST TIME: R2 2015: WB 12.13 (85) def Rich 9.12 (66) at the MCG
LAST ROUND: WB (83) def Syd (79); Rich (56) lost to PA (94)
RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has finally joined the ranks of reality and admitted his side (6-8) isn’t good enough for finals. The Dogs (10-4), on the other hand, have reminded everyone they are a genuine premiership threat. You know which way this is going. The Dogs’ own coach, Luke Beveridge, has warned against a letdown, however, after the big win in Sydney. They will miss key defender Marcus Adams (foot), but will be far too slick for the toothless Tigers, who not only struggle to get a touch, but also a hand on their opposition, sitting distant last for total tackles.
DEMONS V DOCKERS
At TIO Stadium, Darwin, 7.40pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Melbourne 2 Fremantle 8
LAST TIME: R22 2015: Fre 17.6 (108) d Melb 8.6 (54) at Subiaco
LAST ROUND: Melb (98) lost to Adel (120); Fre bye
THE Demons (6-8) will be hellbent on kicking the Dockers (3-11) while they’re down. Few teams have punished them as much as Freo in recent years, winning the past seven “contests”. In the past six, the Dockers have held Melbourne to less than 10 goals and an average of just 42 points. The Dees have hardly been a force at their Darwin home away from home (two wins from six matches there), but they have the chance to set up victory through towering ruckman Max Gawn while Aaron Sandilands is sidelined. The Demons sit second for centre clearances, the Dockers 13th.
BLUES V CROWS
At the MCG, 1.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Carlton 4 Adelaide 6
LAST TIME: R10 2015: Adel 14.15 (99) d Carl 14.6 (90) at the MCG
LAST ROUND: Carl (45) lost to Coll (57); Adel (120) def Melb (98)
ADELAIDE (10-4) has the opportunity to move into the top four for the first time this season with a win against a Carlton side (6-8) struggling again after its mid-season burst. With skipper Marc Murphy (ankle) missing, the Blues are lacking considerable drive. The Crows are ranked No.1 for scoring, averaging a club-record 113 points a game, while the Blues sit second last in that area (averaging 72). The Blues have actually won four of the past six clashes between the two, however, and will be hoping the Crows are “due” for a loss after six straight wins, so you never know.
EAGLES V KANGAROOS
At Domain Stadium, Perth, 3.20pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: North 6 West Coast 4
LAST TIME: PF 2015: WC 10.20 (80) d NM 7.13 (55) at Subiaco
LAST ROUND: WC (130) def Ess (52); NM bye
AS SUGGESTED, North could find itself holding up the top eight this week just a month on from sitting on top of it, if it suffers a fourth successive defeat. The Roos have lost eight of their past 10 in Perth, including five of the past six to West Coast. In the visitors’ favour though is the fact the Eagles haven’t beaten a top-eight side all year, even losing the one on home soil against Adelaide. And the Roos may take veterans Daniel Wells (calf) and Jarrad Waite (hip) across with them. After booting 3.11 between them in last year’s preliminary final, Eagles forwards Josh Kennedy (2.3), Mark LeCras (1.4) and Jamie Cripps (0.4) will look to play things a bit straighter this time.
BOMBERS V SAINTS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 4.40pm
RECENT RECORD: St Kilda 4 Essendon 6
LAST TIME: R9 2016: StK16.13 (109) d Ess 9.9 (63) at Docklands
LAST ROUND: Ess (52) lost to WC (130); StK (68) lost to GC (108)
ST KILDA (6-8) should quickly bounce back from its woeful trip to the Gold Coast at the expense of an Essendon side closing in on a club-record 14 successive losses. The Bombers (1-13) are currently on 12 as they track at a club-low percentage of 54.73 – 10 points less than their previous worst. They will be without gun midfielder David Zaharakis (suspension) and both ruckmen Matthew Leuenberger (knee) and Mark Jamar (suspension). The Saints, who have won three of the past four clashes, will look to spearhead Josh Bruce to lift in the absence of Paddy McCartin (concussion). Bruce has kicked two goals in his past three games, but 10 in his previous two against Essendon.
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