Welcome ladies, gentlemen and all others inclusive to this week’s Mongrel Punt’s Weekly Preview. After yet another tough week for the tipsters that saw upsets, comebacks, and nailbiters to keep the pundits pondering, we’re headed for our next round of fantastic football, and isn’t it fantastic to have football in an almost back to normal capacity? A few reduced capacity crowds aside, the competition has almost managed to return to its regular travelling spectacle.

We are led to believe that this week will be a relatively one-sided affair with most agencies lending fairly one-sided odds to each match. But which cliché do we learn every year, but this season more so than ever? Expect the unexpected.

Thus far, we’ve seen expected wooden spooners comfortably account for top four aspirants, we’ve seen teams with little expectation on them surprise us with undefeated starts to their seasons – taking big scalps along the way, we’ve seen teams decimated by injury, we’ve seen end-of-the-line forwards kick bags week after week and we’ve seen some high-intensity football amongst a plethora of rule changes.

This week shapes as another beauty of a round. Here’s what we can expect;

 

St. Kilda vs Richmond

 

When & Where?
Thursday, April 15th, Marvel Stadium.

Snapshot
Coming off a spirited, come-from-behind win against the Eagles, the ‘rampaging’ Saints are out to prove a point. Tipped by many (myself included) to continue their rise this season after some heavy recruiting and talent acquisition, St. Kilda have been somewhat of a disappointment to date. After a narrow, unimpressive victory over the Giants in round one, we witnessed a bit of a reality check against Melbourne in round two as the Demons had them easily accounted for. Round three was no better as an undermanned Bombers outfit embarrassed them ruthlessly at home. Round four was a glimmer of hope after their disappointing start, with a fateful turnaround to knock over West Coast. Which brings us to this week where they’ll take on the AFL heavyweight Richmond at Marvel Stadium in a Thursday night blockbuster.

Richmond haven’t had their ideal start to the season, either. Starting strongly with wins over Carlton and Hawthorn, we’ve seen the Tigers suffer back-to-back losses for the first time since succumbing to Hawthorn and St. Kilda in rounds three and four of last season. Before that victory the Saints hadn’t beaten Richmond since round 16 of 2017, having lost five of their past six encounters, including last year’s Semi Final heartache.

So what does it all mean?
A loss here to St. Kilda would almost certainly derail their season. Sitting them at 2-3 with an uphill battle to claw their way back. Their draw doesn’t get any easier from here either. If they are to pull out a rabbit, a bloody big rabbit wearing a tigerskin shawl, they will then go on to face a widely tipped finals bound Port Adelaide in Adelaide, where they haven’t lost since round eight last year. Ironically, that game was against St. Kilda. Talk about full circle.

If the Tigers do happen to drop this one it’ll be their worst start to a season since 2016. Richmond’s next task is Melbourne at the MCG. Once an easy tip going on form, however Melbourne are currently undefeated and playing a strong brand of footy. That means very little though. No offense to Melbourne supporters but the Melbourne Demons are about as reliable as the Melbourne weather.

All eyes on:
We heart Marshall – Can the presence of a proven ruckman be a huge repair to the chink in St. Kilda’s armour that they’ve battled with to date? Missing Ryder and Marshall for the start of the season has really hurt the Saints, forced to use a combination of Paul Hunter, Shaun McKernan and Jake Carlisle.

A Pair of Jack’s – Jack Billings and Jack Steele continue to shine this year, providing spark, run, ball winning, tackling and goals for a side that hasn’t shown a lot on their form that took them into a Semi Final last year. One theory has been the return to longer quarters has had a negative effect on the saints this season. Nevertheless, it’s a handy pair of Jack’s to have in hand with Billings averaging 24 disposals, two goals and seven marks a game whilst Steele is averaging 28 disposals, six clearances and six tackles a game.

What’s in a name? – Ok, so we’ve all heard of a bloke named Cyril Rioli, right? We all know that he was the sort of player who needed only 12 touches, five tackles and a couple of goals to turn a game completely on its head. It was kind of his thing. Well a lot of people relate that moniker to his surname and expect the same from Daniel. We’ve all seen Daniel kick goals of the year, take spectacular screamers, dazzle opponents with his agility and tackle blokes for fun. The only problem is, we don’t see it enough. I’d love to see him regularly amongst the Tiger’s goalscorers or best on their game reviews. If all he needs is one ripper game to get him going, this is his chance. St. Kilda’s defense will be stretched as it is, and he is the ideal candidate to pop up and do the damage for his team and further push his credentials.

West Coast vs Collingwood

 

When & Where?
Friday 16th April, Optus Stadium.

Snapshot
Maynard was held. Maynard was blocked. Maynard this, Maynard that, Maynard uses a Kookaburra cricket bat. Sorry Pies fans, that’s a bit of a jerk way to start this preview. But it’s no secret that since 2018 this rivalry has had a little spice to it. More spice than even I realised until I did a little background check. So the ledger sits at 2-2 for these teams since that fateful Grand Final that saw a late Dom Sheed clutch goal devastate Collingwood on the grandest stage, with all four games being contested at Optus Oval in Perth. Before you hit me with ‘What? Collingwood actually travelled interstate?’, don’t forget that includes a Covid affected 2020 where minimal games were played in Melbourne. Collingwood hung on by a point to eliminate West Coast from an elimination final last year and the Eagles accounted for the Magpies comfortably earlier in the season. Back to 2019 and it read pretty similar. Another Collingwood one point thriller later in the season with a 22 point victory to the Eagles earlier that year. It’s safe to say this has built into a bit of a tense modern day rivalry through these close encounters, tight finishes and a Grand Final heartbreak.

So what does it all mean?
West Coast have had a bit of a YoYo start to this season. They comfortably beat the Suns in round one, only to lose a close finish to the Bulldogs in round two. They rolled the highly touted Power by more than six goals in round three, then succumbed to a struggling St. Kilda last week. This game is to be played out in Perth, but that doesn’t quite equate to a surety for the Eagles. A loss to the Pies will potentially drop West Coast out of the top 8. Their healthy percentage may save them, pending other results.

Collingwood haven’t had the start to 2021 that they would’ve hoped for. They sit at 1-3 thus far with their only win an unconvincing one against the Blues, where the margin was inflated by late goals. Their losses have come against the Bulldogs, the Giants by five goals and a one point heart stopper against Brisbane. They’ve escaped a lot of media scrutiny so far, however if their season slipped to 1-4 I’m certain that internal alarm bells would start sounding, if they weren’t already.

All eyes on:
The Clash of the Titans – One of the hottest tickets in the AFL is witnessing the battle of the behemoths. Two of the ‘Big 3’ ruckmen in our comp, both battling it out in the only way they know how. Grundy vs NicNat. Two heavyweights of the AFL ruck division will go head to head in a Friday night frenzy. Both of these men love playing each other. Grundy averages more hitouts against West Coast than almost any other team, as does Naitanui against Collingwood. So, who gets the job done? Two completely different styles of ruckmen. Can Naitanui use his agility and early leap to get first touch? Or will Grundy grind him down and use his strength to get the better of the battle? All I know is I can’t wait to see it.

Man of Steele – The return of Steele Sidebottom is timely for a Collingwood outfit that will be without midfield bull and number one clearance player in Taylor Adams for the foreseeable future. Going head to head with the likes of Andrew Gaff, Tim Kelly and Dom Sheed, Collingwood will need all the skill in the centre that they can muster.

 

Western Bulldogs vs Gold Coast

When & Where?
Saturday 17th April, Marvel Stadium

Snapshot
What a start to the season by the Bulldogs! Top of the table after four rounds with a very healthy percentage thanks to a 139 point demolition of North Melbourne. Wins over Collingwood, West Coast and Brisbane have propelled the Doggies to the top of the ladder with a midfield that shows no signs of slowing down. Gold Coast currently occupy 13th spot on the ladder after losses to Carlton, West Coast and Adelaide. Their only win for the season so far coming over the lowly North Melbourne. Having lost their skipper and first choice ruckman in Jarrod Witt’s for the season, the Sun’s will find no respite for their talls as they come up against rising duo Stefan Martin and Tim English. Last time they met, an inaccurate Suns went down by five points after a nail-biting final quarter with Marcus Bontempelli taking the game saving mark in Gold Coast’s forward line.

So, what does it all mean?
Pretty straight forward in terms of what’s laying ahead for both of these teams. A win to the Bulldogs will almost certainly keep them atop of the AFL ladder, with GWS Giants their following game, and what a modern day rivalry this has become. Thanks to some close finishes, finals heartbreak and Toby Greene’s habit of choosing this particular match to sow the wild oats, it has blossomed into a heated battle between two teams that show genuine disdain for each other. Followed by a Friday night blockbuster at the ‘G against Richmond.
As for Gold Coast, their season is starting to look over shortly after its begun. They’ve been in a few of their matches until late, just struggling to hold a lead or be able to score and defend cohesively to put a team away. Their next few games get no easier, but nothing’s easy for a team in their position. They’re starting down the barrell of hosting Sydney at home before traveling to the MCG to take on Collingwood.

All eyes on:
The Dog’s Midfield – Lead by superstar Jack Macrae (who happens to be one of only two players to receive coaches votes in every game so far this season), the Bulldog’s midfield is a scary proposition this season. Adam Treloar is kicking goals and moving the ball forward with ease, Josh Dunkley is relishing not having to pretend he’s a ruckman, Bailey Smith looks a player beyond his years. Scary to think that this kid is only 20 years of age. The Bont just continues to do his thing every week with little to no fuss whilst Tom Liberatore leads the league for clearances. Now throw Lachie Hunter and Caleb Daniel through there and you have a midfield that’s talent and depth rivals that of any midfield currently in the competition.

Jack Bowes & Brandon Ellis – In a year that hasn’t provided all too many highlights for Suns fans, Bowes and Ellis have shone brightly. Paired with Hugh Greenwood’s tackling and clearance work, Gold Coast have developed a handy core of key players to help take this team forward. They’ll have it all up against them this week.
Three pronged attack – Bruce, Naughton, English. You don’t often see three talls prowling the forward line in today’s faster paced game, but the marking of Aaron Naughton, the presence of Josh Bruce and the versatility of Tim English is enough to give any backline nightmares. The trio took 20 marks and kicked 6.8 between them last week from 17 shots on goal against the Brisbane Lions, not to mention combining for 15.4 against the Kangaroos the week before compliments of a ten goal bag to Josh Bruce.

 

Sydney vs Greater Western Sydney

When & Where?
Saturday 17th April, SCG.

Snapshot
The Battle of the Bridge, The Sydney Skirmish, The Assail in New South Wales.. Ok, I may have made a few of those up. But what else am I to do? Is this rivalry really as strong as the AFL would like us to believe it is? Do Sydneysiders really revel at the thought of beating their crosstown counterparts in the same manner that South Australians do? I’m yet to see it, but I’m happy to be educated because I’m a sucker for a good story stemming from a close rivalry. Especially one that causes great dignity and pleasure for those that leave as victors.

So what does it all mean?
Sydney are sitting third on the ladder as one of three teams yet to lose a game. They comfortably beat Brisbane at the Gabba before walking all over Adelaide and embarassing Richmond at their MCG fortress. Essendon proved a challenge for them at the SCG, only narrowly beating the Bombers in a close finish. The Giants sit 15th on the ladder off the back of a solitary win against Collingwood last week to the tune of five goals. If Sydney are to continue in their winning ways they will further push their credentials and cement their spot in the top four. With a fortnight of traveling to the Gold Coast then hosting Geelong at the SCG, the Swans are every chance of continuing this winning streak. If the Giants manage to run head to head with Sydney and leave with their second win of the season, they’ll be a chance to elevate themselves from the bottom four. A place that the AFL would be devastated to see one of their expansion clubs sitting after featuring in a Grand Final only two seasons ago.

All eyes on:
Don’t break my hand, my achy breaky hand – in a strange twist of creative allowance, here’s someone that no eyes will be on – Isaac Heeney. After an off-the-ball tussle last week in which he decided to swing a fist-clenched hand, he connected with his opponent and broke said hand. Now facing at least a month on the sidelines. You’d have to be pissed off at yourself looking back on that one, wouldn’t you?

Giants Forwards – it’s a big week for the GWS forward line. The return of Jeremy Finlayson helped the Giants reach their highest score of the season to defeat Collingwood last week. They’ll be looking to him alongside Greene and Himmelberg to convert opportunities and kick a winning score against a formidable scoring opponent in Sydney who have shown their vast avenues to goal so far this season.

You Buddy Beauty – Is anyone else genuinely excited at the prospect of a player hitting 1000 career goals? I sure as hell am! This may be the last time for generations that we see a player hit the four figure goal tally. Having only had five other players in history achieve this feat, the last being Tony Lockett, knowing that Buddy has passed 950 career goals is a scintillating thought for any true fan of the game. Especially if Sydney maintain their form and manage to bat their innings late into the finals series.

 

Brisbane vs Essendon

When & Where?
Saturday 17th April, Gabba.

Snapshot
This is shaping up to potentially be the match of the round. Two teams coming from entirely different predictions, end up sitting close on the ladder. Brisbane currently occupying 16th whilst the Bombers sit at 12th. Both teams only sitting on a single win for the season after some very tight finishes. Brisbane losing to Sydney in their opening round match, go on to lose to Geelong by a sole point in a controversial finish involving an umpires failure to make a call, to then beat Collingwood by a single point the very next week and lose to the Bulldogs last week. It definitely hasn’t been the start to the season that most punters predicted for the Lions. The Bombers on the other hand are probably sitting roughly were most had them picked. They coughed up a very handy lead to lose to Hawthornin round one, this game also decided by only a point. They were shown no mercy by Port Adelaide in Adelaide the next week, being beaten by almost 10 goals. They bounced back in the strongest way possible, devastating St. Kilda in round three by 75 points and then pushied Sydney to their limits last week. Leading at points throughout the game and eventually suffering a narrow loss by three points.

So what does it all mean?
Essendon’s Injury woes seem to worsen each week. Losing number one ruckman Sam Draper early in the season, alongside midfielders Dylan Shiel and Jye Caldwell were huge blows to an already undermanned Bombers side who had previously pulled the pin and made the call to get games and experience into their younger players. Signalling 2021 to be a transitioning year for young players and first time head coach Ben Rutten as well. A win against the Lions on the road would be a huge boost for the Bombers, having an already healthy percentage compliments of their strong showing against the Saints, Essendon’s second win of the season coming a week before their perrenial Anzac Day Blockbuster would be a massive confidence boost to a side with a long way to go in their quest to win that elusive final. A win to Brisbane would certainly keep the wolves away from the door for a week. With the media already starting to direct the heat their way, knocking off the Bombers would potentially leapfrog the Lions up the ladder and hopefully be a stepping stone to getting their season back on track.

All eyes on:
Joe ‘The Mo’ Daniher – Without a doubt, all eyes will be directly on Joe Daniher in his first hitout against his former club. After electing Brisbane as his team of choice, the often maligned forward found his way to Queensland and out of the Victorian bubble that he cited as a harrowing factor in his decision to relocate. Now knowing Joe, this could go one of many ways, but is most likely to go one of two; he’ll either have a field day against his old team and showcase his All Australian form by kicking a bag of goals and sitting on the heads of his former teammates to take some outrageous marks for a bloke his size, or he’ll spray easy opportunities, let the pressure get to him and have very little of an influence on the game. Regardless, it’ll make for good viewing.

Lachie Neale – Is he carrying something else? Or is it his troublesome back giving him grief? By his own admission he’s not playing 100% fit. There’s been reported that he hasn’t trained with the main group, leading some to believe that it’s worse than initially let on by the Lions. If he’s slightly off his pace it’s the perfect opportunity for an undermanned Essendon Midfield to launch their attack at the centre square. Darcy Parish being their best clearance player so far this season, the Dons will be looking to capitalise in any way possible and take whatever rlittle advantages they can. However, underestimate the skill and effort of Lyons and McInerney at your own peril.

Overzealous Zorko – What is up with this guy? Is he a good captain? Or is he just the best that was available? As an outsider looking in, some of his decisions absolutely baffle the mind. Every player makes mistakes or does something that makes you scratch your head at some point during a game, but if there was an Olympic event that showcased brain fades, Dayne Zorko would make Michael Phelps look like Harry Holt. Seriously. Watching him against the Bulldogs last week was borderline embarrassing at times as he rolled around on the ground like a child, targeted players off the ball and just made himself look the fool more often than not. You’d want to hope he bounces back this week and delivers conduct somewhat more befitting that of an AFL captain.

 

Carlton vs Port Adelaide

When & Where?
Saturday 17th April, MCG.

Snapshot
Carlton find themselves in a much better position than most would’ve anticipated them to be. Currently sitting 7th on the ladder with two wins and two losses, it was a shaky start to the season. Losing the opening game of the year to Richmond after holding their own all game, the score was inflated somewhat with late goals in the dying minutes. But after a loss to Collingwood the next week the Blues snatched that losing streak with healthy wins over Fremantle and Gold Coast. Port Adelaide sit just inside the too four having only lost one game for the season, which came against West Coast two weeks ago. Injury has hit them hard! Losing young stars Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters to long term injuries last week in their defeat of last year’s premiers, Richmond.

So what does it all mean?
A loss here wouldn’t be all doom and gloom for the Power. They’re traveling well enough this season that they’re still widely tipped to finish top two. No injury comes at a good time, but if their players are able to have surgery, rehabilitate and get back on the park late in the season leading up to finals, it will be a handy boost for Port coming into the pointy end of the season. Luckily, they’re a team with depth and have ample players to cover the loss of those who are out. A loss to Carlton could prove very costly. With six teams sitting on two wins/two losses for the season, they’d almost positively be pushed out of the eight. A win however would hold this young team in the upper echelons of the ladder and do David Teague’s young team a world of confidence.

All eyes on:
Sam Docherty – After two long years out of the game and a testicular cancer scare late last year, man it is good to see this guy back and doing what he does best – patrol that back line. A key part to Carlton’s resurgence this year is Sam Docherty playing his role down back. Along with new recruit Adam Saad, who has had a few highlights since crossing over from Essendon at the end of last year, the Carlton back line is starting to take shape. Pair that with a strong mifield hand of Cripps, Walsh, Curnow, Fogarty and Newnes, it’s promising signs for Carlton.

Charlie Dixon – Many had Dixon tipped to take out the Coleman Medal this season, sensing that a Port Adelaide on the rise and vying for a position high up the ladder would equate to their star forward kicking bags. This hasn’t quite been the case as of yet. He kicked four against Essendon which isn’t a huge feather in the cap, he kicked two against North Melbourne in round one but went goalless against West Coast and goalless against Richmond. We all know what he’s capable of, but poor showings against top teams doesn’t quite instill the faith early on in the season.

 

Adelaide vs Fremantle

When & Where?
Sunday 18th April, Adelaide Oval

Snapshot
Just stop for a second and take this in. Cast your mind back to late August last year. It was round 14 and Adelaide had the bye. They had just lost the past 13 games straight in season 2020 as well as their final three for season 2019. The bye was looking like the enly opponent they had a chance against. Now, if I asked you to look into my crystal ball and forward to round five of 2021, Adelaide would be just outside the top four having only lost one game against Sydney back in round two. Not only that, but Taylor Walker who kicked 15 goals for the entire season 2020 would be the league’s leading goal scorer after only five games, on 20 goals. I know exactly what you would’ve told me. I can’t type it here, but it would’ve rhymed with ‘wet ducked’. Adelaide’s resurgence this season has been tremendous. Full credit to Matthew Nicks and his team for where they’ve gotten themselves this season. Fremantle on the other hand are sitting at ninth on the ladder so far in season 2021. They’re one of the six teams sitting two/two in wins/losses, beating GWS and Hawthorn but losing to Carlton and Melbourne. Alright, I know how fit this Fremantle midfield is. They’ve got David Mundy racking up numbers for fun at age 87, they’ve got the ever-impressive Cerra, Brayshaw and Serong, and as if you could forget duel Brownlow medalist Nat Fyfe. However! I still firmly believe that no-one gets as much of a workout in Fremantle as their injury list does! Good Golly Miss Molly! What does this squad have to do to field a full strength team? I’m genuinely at a loss.

So what does it all mean?
Fif Adelaide win this one they are every chance of jumping into the top four, if not they cement themselves at fifth position and happily wait until someone slides down and out for them to elevate. By far one of the biggest surprise packets of the season. With West Coast having a better percentage, should they lose its highly likely that they themselves will slide back down the ladder. A win for Fremantle may see them jump inside the top eight, however their modest percentage would hold them back.

All eyes on:
Devil went down to Texas – Which poor soul man’s up on Tex Walker? Other than Harry McKay kicking 7.5 in round three, no one forward has really gone to town on Fremantle this season. That could be about to change. As mentioned earlier, Taylor Walker is absolutely Ham Salad this year, he is on that much of a roll. But they do say all good things come to an end, and unfortunately for Tex, I think his weeks of kicking goals for fun may just come to an end. If not this week, then maybe next.

Ruck Me Dead – I’ll probably use that title a few times this year, but this underrated ruck battle has the potential to be an entertaining one. Both Reilly O’Brien and Sean Darcy have very similar numbers for the season so far. Throwing in Lloyd Meek as well, this could be a very good clash for those who find themselves engrossed in two big-bodied blokes launching themselves into an aerial battle to win the hitout for their team. I feel like O’Brien will step it up a bit and have the better game, but it will be good watching.

Shane McAdam – This kid excited me. I have no real rhyme or reason into why I’m singling him out, other than I’ve already touched on Fremantle’s midfield earlier and I just love watching Shane when he’s on. He provides that run and spark that the Crows fans love and has a good spring in his treads to take a hanger.

 

Hawthorn vs Melbourne

When & Where?
Sunday 18th April, MCG.

Snapshot
What do you do when you’re driving and the left lane ends? MERGE! Sorry Hawks and Dees fans, terrible joke. Not even sure why I’m still typing it…. Anyways! Back to the game. How good have Melbourne looked so far this year? I’m pleasantly surprised. At the same time if I had to bet my life on Melbourne winning a game when they were odds on favourites, you’d still see me shaking like a shitting dog. I just can’t have faith in a team that does this every few years and nothing eventuates! I hope it does, I hope Melbourne finally get through the finals and back it up for a few seasons. It would put a halt on the ‘up and down like an elevator’ coaching tenure of Simon Goodwin so far. So in terms of ladder position, this game will see second play second-last. Hawthorn find themselves sitting 17th, only a win seperating then from the lapless Roos below them and the five other teams above them sitting on a single win for the season. Melbourne go on the face Richmond next week, then the Arden Street Bye the following week. Hawthorn will face Adelaide in Launceston then St. Kilda at Marvel Stadium.

So what does it all mean?
Everything, but nothing for Hawthorn. A loss will see them remain in 17th on the ladder, a win will see them climb slightly higher in the lowest quarter of the ladder. If you think this means Clarko won’t give it his all and expect each of his players to do the same, then you are horribly mistaken.
For Melbourne, a win keeps them in second spot. They have the second best percentage in the league and it would take Sydney to annihilate GWS for them to jump a spot and pinch second.

All eyes on:
Dashing Defender – I don’t know about all eyes, but my eyes will be on Changkuoth Jiath. He has impressed me thoroughly this season. His ability to read the game for someone who didn’t grow up playing the game is astounding. Interesting fact compliments of Trent Adam Shields, Changkuoth is one of only two players in the comp to have received coaches votes in each of the four games so far. The other being Jack Macrae from the Dogs. What a season this young fella is having! Would love to see him light up the MCG with a dash from half back.

Down, Down, Brownlow Prices are Down – Has anyone else seen Christian Petracca’s Brownlow odds plummet this past fortnight? Fair enough too, he’s having some kind of season. When Gawn is dropping it down the throats of him and Clarry Oliver on a weekly basis you can’t half blame them. Not only is he moving the ball and accumulating, he’s kicking goals. That’s what the good mids do – or so Paul Roos once said.

 

Geelong vs North Melbourne

When & Where?
Sunday 18th April, GMHBA-BCDEFGHIJKLMNOP Stadium

Snapshot
I sincerely apologise to North Melbourne fans for referring to them as ‘the bye’ earlier in this article. I feel for North, every season there has to be that team that camps on the bottom, flexing their muscles whisky holding the rest of the ladder up. Last year it was Adelaide, years gone by it’s been Gold Coast. Unfortunately, this season it’s the Roo’s time. I can’t see anything positive coming out of their trip across the Westgate to Geelong. Maybe a few individual highlights? But with Jezza Cameron looking like returning, things could get ugly down there. Ridiculous Melbourne traffic aside, it’s a long drive back from Geelong. I’ll keep the form pretty simple, North haven’t won a game and are very settled on the bottom of the ladder. Apart from Jack Ziebell and Jed Anderson and the odd effort from Jaidyn Stephenson, there’s not much to be really pumped for. They’ll face Fremantle at Optus next week and Melbourne in Hobart the following week. Geelong will face the Eagles in Geelong next week and then Sydney at the SCG the week after.

So what does it all mean?
For Geelong currently sitting in 10th position, a win will possibly see them jump into the top eight. They haven’t got the greatest percentage, but that’s why you play North Melbourne.
The Kangaroos will hopefully get some good experience and games into their younger players. That’s about the best you can hope for. I know exactly how their supporters feel because I’ve been there myself.

All eyes on:
U.G.L.Y – All eyes on Geelong’s forward line, this could get ugly. This could be a good training drill to welcome Jeremy Cameron back, plus it could be the game Hawkins needs to kick a bag and dust off a couple of the goal-kicking cobwebs he’s got visible this season.

Guthrie & Duncan – Who would’ve thought that in a midfield that in recent seasons has boasted the likes of Gary Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, that their two most consistent players would be Cam Guthrie and Mitch Duncan? Those two are unbelievable. Guthrie flies under the radar of almost every team he plays. Yes, his kicking is wayward at times, but look at the impact he has.

Nick Larkey – Would love to see this guy kick a bag. He hasn’t had that big bang game that he shows us a few times in season’s past, but I’d love to see the forward line structured to allow him some space to do his thing. This kid has a bright future, I really hope the club does too to allow him the space to grow and learn.

And that’s it for this week. If you made it to the end and didn’t just scroll and read your team’s, then I appreciate your support and love your work. Drop a comment and let me know what you think. If it all goes well this will be a weekly addition so keep your eye out. Thanks!