DOCKERS V CATS
At Domain Stadium, Perth, 8.10pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Fremantle 6 Geelong 4
LAST TIME: R2 2015: Frem 15.14 (104) d Geel 9.6 (60) in Geelong
LAST WEEK: Frem (55) lost to Melb (87); Geel (60) lost to Syd (98)
PERTH is not where you want to go to try to arrest a form slide, especially against a bogey side. But the visiting Cats (10-5) must still start favourites against the hosts, despite having lost their past two games, three of their past four against the Dockers, and five of their past six in WA. Freo trio David Mundy (39 touches), Nat Fyfe (36) and Michael Barlow (31) had an absolute field day against the Cats last time – in Geelong – but of course, with Fyfe (leg) out and Barlow (finger) and Mundy (concussion) under injury clouds, it presents the chance for Joel Selwood, Paddy Dangerfield and co to get back on the winners’ list. After a mid-season spurt, the Dockers (3-12) are spluttering again, having kicked just 13 goals in the past two weeks.
TIGERS V BOMBERS
At the MCG, 1.40pm
RECENT RECORD: Richmond 6 Essendon 4
LAST TIME: R10 2016: Rich 16.9 (105) def Ess 10.7 (67) at the MCG
LAST WEEK: Rich (75) lost to WB (85); Ess (98) lost to StK (109)
ESSENDON (1-14) is coming towards the end of a season to forget. But unfortunately for the Bombers, the 2016 team looks like etching its name into history. A loss to Richmond (6-9) will see it equal its worst-ever losing streak of 14 games, with a home match against Brisbane to come. The return of onballer David Zaharakis will be a boost, but Richmond, which pushed the Bulldogs last week, should comfortably win its fifth in a row against the Bombers. After combining for 23 marks between them last week, key defenders David Astbury and Alex Rance will be too strong for an Essendon side already ranked last for marks inside-50m. It was, in fact, round 17 last season when Essendon last topped 100 points in a match.
KANGAROOS V POWER
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 4.35pm
RECENT RECORD: North 7 Port 3
LAST TIME: R3 2015: Port 17.11 (113) def NM 16.9 (105) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: NM (72) def WC (104); Port (79) lost to Haw (101)
THERE’s probably no danger of it actually slipping any further, such as out of the eight completely, but North (10-5) will be desperate to put an end to its four-match losing run. June 3 was the last time the Roos won a game, back when they were atop the ladder. Port, though 7-8 and still 12 points in arrears in ninth place, won’t make it easy on the hosts. The Power has won three of its past five at Docklands, and two of its past four games with the Roos, with just 27 points separating them in that time. North was hopeful of welcoming back Daniel Wells (calf) and Jarrad Waite (hip) to help its cause, but, regardless, Todd Goldstein will give it an edge in the ruck against fill-in Jackson Trengove.
CROWS V MAGPIES
At Adelaide Oval, 7.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Adelaide 4 Collingwood 6
LAST TIME: R2 2015: Adel 12.18 (90) def Coll 9.9 (63) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: Coll (125) def GWS (93); Adel (107) def Carl (47)
THE gloves are off at Collingwood. Well, Travis Cloke’s anyway. “Non-compliant glove” or not, the big fella found some form last week – 12 marks and four goals – but he will face a far tougher time against the Crows’ All-Australian fullback Daniel Talia. As will the Magpies (7-8), who although are on a three-match winning streak, face an opponent that has won its past seven – rising to third in that time – and is at home. The Crows (11-4) have won 11 of their past 12 games in Adelaide, where Collingwood has lost its past three. Adelaide is at that point where teams can come undone, but may be not this week in what is also the 300th game of club great Scott Thompson.
BULLDOGS V SUNS
At Cazalys Stadium, Cairns, 7.25pm
RECENT RECORD: Bulldogs 5 GC 2
LAST TIME: R15 2015: WB 14.11 (95) def GC 11.7 (73) in Cairns
LAST WEEK: WB (85) def Rich (75); GC (139) def BL (119)
THEY might be a long way from their real home, but Cairns has been pretty sweet for the Bulldogs (11-4), who are two from two there when “hosting” the Gold Coast. They will head north wary of the Suns (5-10), however – and with a simple plan: keep it away from their twin towers Tom Lynch and Peter Wright (10 goals between then last week), who will be far too strong for the likes of Fletcher Roberts and Dale Morris if given a chance. The Dogs’ bid for Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Hunter and co to do that and dominate through the middle will be made that much easier by not having to contend with star pair Gary Ablett (shoulder) and Michael Rischitelli (knee).
BLUES V EAGLES
At the MCG, 1.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Carlton 6 West Coast 4
LAST TIME: R2 2015: WC 20.11 (131) def Carl 9.8 (62) at Subiaco
LAST WEEK: Carl (47) lost to Adel (107); WC (104) def NM (72)
WEST Coast will welcome the task of playing at the MCG, and not having to confront Hawthorn, as it has done the past two times, for two very forgettable performances. They instead face Carlton at the ’G for the first time since 1999, with the Blues having slumped to four successive defeats. While the Eagles have that immense attacking strike power headed by ex-Blue Josh Kennedy, who booted 10 goals in the teams’ last clash, Carlton has been averaging just 8.5 goals a game in the past month. The Blues are also now last for contested disposals in 2016.
SAINTS V DEMONS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 3.20pm
RECENT RECORD: St Kilda 10 Melbourne 0
LAST TIME: R6 2016: StK 20.15 (135) def Melb 15.6 (96) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: StK (109) def Ess (98); Melb (87) def Frem (55)
AFTER ending a seven-match losing streak against Freo, the Demons will be confident of beating St Kilda for the first time in 10 years, in which time they’ve lost 13 straight games. Melbourne will have to conquer a few other demons in the process though – one being Docklands, where it has lost 23 of its past 24 games, and the other being Saints skipper Nick Riewoldt, who’s dominated the Dees in the past, taking 59 marks and kicking 16 goals in his past five games against them. Be it trying to stop Riewoldt, Josh Bruce or Tim Membrey (five goals last week) defender Tom McDonald will have a big role to play for the Demons.
LIONS V GIANTS
At the Gabba, Brisbane, 4.40pm
RECENT RECORD: Brisbane 2 GWS 2
LAST TIME: R10 2015: GWS 14.13 (97) def BL 10.7 (67) in Sydney
LAST WEEK: BL (113) lost to GC (139); GWS (93) lost to Coll (125)
THE Lions are on the verge of equalling the unwanted Brisbane club record of 12 straight losses. Sure to regroup after their worst performance of the year, the visitors will have far too much firepower for the hosts. After the severely weakened Lions defence, led by Dan Merrett and Darcy Gardiner, struggled to contain Suns Tom Lynch and Peter Wright, it doesn’t get any easier this week when they confront Jeremy Cameron, Jon Patton and Rory Lobb. While Brisbane has conceded a league-high 126 points a game this season, the Giants are ranked second for scoring (108 per game).
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