Richmond v Port Adelaide, MCG, 5.20pm
It’s not where you start, rather where you finish in the course of a sporting season. And that most definitely applies to Richmond and Port Adelaide ahead of the second half of 2022.
The pair made tardy starts to their respective home-and-away campaigns, yet have built nicely in recent weeks to find themselves in contention for a top-eight berth. Unfortunately for Port, their 0-5 commencement to the season has left them precious little wriggle room entering tonight’s clash.
And now they run headlong into a Richmond outfit that is starting to play some very powerful football. No Tom Lynch leaves the Tigers a little bit vulnerable ahead of the ball, but Dustin Martin should only improve from here on in.
VERDICT: Richmond by 1-39 points
Essendon v Carlton, MCG, 5.50pm
The Kevin Sheedy sideshow was in full swing this week, with the Essendon legend claiming the football industry owed the Bombers an apology for the supplements saga.
Some fell for the rhetoric. Others with a full handle on the situation saw Sheedy’s comments for what they were … an attempt to deflect from how pathetic the Bombers, currently 2-9, have been in 2022. If Essendon can’t rise for this game — a celebration of their 150th anniversary against a traditional rival — one wonders what Ben Rutten’s future holds.
Carlton have loaded up the bases by recalling Harry McKay and Jack Martin among others, further strengthening an attack which can be dangerous at the best of times.
VERDICT: Carlton by 1-39 points
Fremantle v Hawthorn, Optus Stadium, 2.10pm
Third time lucky? Fremantle fans will be hoping that is the case when their side confronts inclement conditions for a third occasion in a month.
We all know how the previous matches against Gold Coast and Collingwood went. This encounter seems certain to be played on a rain-affected Optus Stadium surface, giving Justin Longmuir’s charges an opportunity to right their wrongs.
The presence of Nat Fyfe will certainly help against a Hawthorn side that is dangerous on its day, but struggles to piece together consistent effort over four quarters.
VERDICT: Fremantle by 1-39 points
Brisbane v St Kilda, Gabba, 5.25pm
Brisbane have been forensically analysed over the past few weeks, with the recurring theme being their inability to defend ball movement and quieten an opposition forward line.
Lions coach Chris Fagan is well aware of the deficiency, but one wonders just how much time his team has had to address it this week after losing to Fremantle on this side of the country last Sunday evening. One would hope some tweaks have been made because St Kilda off a bye will ask plenty of questions.
Brisbane are adamant Harris Andrews is in good nick. We will find out how well is travelling after standing Max King for 120 minutes.
VERDICT: Brisbane by 1-24 points
North Melbourne v GWS, Marvel Stadium, 1.20pm
North Melbourne’s season from hell will continue here when they square off against GWS. The one blessing for the besieged Kangaroos is only a smattering of rusted-on fans will be at Marvel Stadium to witness it.
The Giants have been better under Mark McVeigh than they were for the most part on Leon Cameron’s watch. Granted, it is a small sample size, but their ability to impact the scoreboard is undeniably better and they are becoming increasingly healthier.
The availability of Nick Haynes, Lachie Whitfield and Braydon Preuss strengthens the Giants in important areas against a North line-up hoping to give 150-game milestone men Luke McDonald and Aaron Hall something to smile about.
VERDICT: GWS by 24+ points
Collingwood v Melbourne, MCG, 1.20pm
This presented as a somewhat tricky affair after Melbourne lost two games on the bounce, a rare dip in form that coincided with Collingwood continuing their climb up the ladder.
Then came the bombshell surrounding Jake Melksham and Steven May’s dust-up, which has led to May being banned by the club for a match, Melksham undergoing surgery to fix a hand that landed on May’s chin and an AFL investigation.
In an instant, this became a match with a real banana skin feel about it. Most still believe the Demons can respond and get the four points. A Collingwood victory though wouldn’t be a shock.