Welcome ladies, gentlemen, and all others inclusive to this week’s Mongrel Preview. Before we start up the Delorean and head back to the future, let’s cast a quick eye over the turbulent elevator of ups and downs that was round 7.

Friday night under lights, the heavyweight blockbuster of the Western Bulldogs versus the Richmond Tigers at the MCG wound up like a bruised schoolbag apple; a real tale of two halves. The Dogs came out barking and appeared to be the fresher, juicier side of the apple that was nestled against the school jumper. The Tigers looked off the pace and struggled to put the clamps on the Bulldog’s run. But, to their credit, they showed full commitment and emerged from the half-time break with a point to prove. Their presence as the roughed up and bruised side of the apple completely evaporated as Houli, Bolton and Co. ran rampant and seized the game back from a waning Bulldogs.

In the absence of Thursday night football, we saw a chock-a-block Saturday with five overlapping games across the country.

It began with Collingwood being overrun at the MCG by a plucky, young Gold Coast side. On the surface this game may have not have much allure to those outside of the teams playing, however, it was a massive personal achievement for the Gold Coast Suns. In only their 15th game in history at the MCG (where their ledger sat at three wins, 11 losses) the Suns managed their first back-to-back wins for the season.

We then  crossed the border to see the Giants hand the Crows a massive reality check to the tune of 11 goals in the City of Churches. Tex managed two goals to maintain his lead in the Coleman and Jesse Hogan bagged four on his Giants debut.

Following the trend of big losses, St. Kilda found their form on the back of a well-rounded team performance against a lusterless Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium. Paddy Ryder proved to be the missing key that unlocks the door to the Saints’ potential.

Up the M31 to Sydney saw the fourth game of the day battled out at the SCG where Sydney had another close finish, and Geelong had another last-second umpiring decision affect the result of the game – this one, however, didn’t quite go their way as a mark to Jeremy Cameron near the point post wasn’t paid and the Swans got away with a two-point win.

The final game of the day belonged to Charlie Cameron and Hugh McCluggage. The lively youngsters were in everything as the Lions flexed their muscles and proved to be too strong for an inaccurate Port Adelaide at the Gabba.

Sunday morning hangovers were treated with an admirable effort from North Melbourne as they battled former teammate Ben Brown at his new club the Melbourne Demons, who ran away eventual winners in the fourth quarter. Fate looked to be all falling in the Kangaroos’ favour for most of the first three quarters as they established leads on the back of Aaron Hall and Ben Cunnington’s blood and sweat. Young legs tired and the Demons prevailed by five goals after kicking away late in the game.

Another see-sawing spectacular from the MCG had the Bombers and the Blues dueling with their young, up-and-coming stars. Five goals to Cale Hooker and a valiant effort by Darcy Parish wasn’t enough to quell the insuppressible Sam Walsh as he lead the Blues to a 16 point victory in an entertaining, high-scoring affair.

The last game of the round was a return to form for the Eagles. They showed Fremantle that despite a slight loss of direction, their season is looking back on track. 59 point wins can say a lot about the forwards, but the hard work was done in the midfield as Gaff, Kelly, Sheed and Redden ran rampant and took the wind out of the Docker’s kites.

Right. Flux capacitor is primed to 1.21 gigawatts, time and date is set. Let’s hit 88 miles per hour and go….. Back to the Future!

The sixth placed Tigers feature in back-to-back Friday night blockbusters as they take on the fifth placed Cats at the MCG.

After a comfortable win over the Crows, the Giants will look to secure another win as they host Essendon at Giants stadium.

On the back of their heart-filled victory over Collingwood, the Suns have a challenge at home as the Saints will hope to capitalise on last week’s big win and clamber up the ladder.

North Melbourne will head into their clash against Collingwood at Marvel with a slight spring in their step, knowing full well that if they replicate their efforts from last week, that they’ll be in with a chance as the Pies endure a tumultuous period on and off the field.

New top of the table ladder leaders Melbourne will have a challenge as Sydney make the trip down to the MCG in what could be one of the matches of the round. Mind you, every time I’ve said that so far this season, the match turns out shithouse. So I wouldn’t bank on that.

The Adelaide Showdown winds up our super Saturday of sports. Will Port go ahead and wear their prison bar jerseys against the wishes of the AFL? We’ll soon find out. If not, we’ll hear all about it from the Wall Street Wizard and Port Adelaide Chairman; David Koch.

Sunday the Hawks will verse the Eagles in a Battle of the Birds at the MCG. What a stupid moniker, “Battle of the Birds”. Could be a mix of any of the five bird-based teams. Have i read that somewhere, or did I just dribble it myself? Nevermind.

The Bulldogs will look to get back to the winners list after losing their first game of the season last week. Carlton will be ready for the challenge but how will the Doggies reply?

Our final game of the round see’s Fremantle challenge Brisbane from Optus Stadium.

Here’s what we can expect:

 

Teams

Richmond vs Geelong

When & Where?
Friday 7th May, MCG.

Snapshot
Another Friday night special, this floating fixture business may actually be a keeper for the AFL. Allowing them to allocate prime time spots to blockbuster games has been a massive win for them in terms of viewers and ratings, and this game is no exception. The undermanned Tigers will come in fresh off a come-from-behind victory over former ladder leaders, the Western Bulldogs. Geelong will also have their backs up after falling agonisingly short against Sydney last week. Oh yeah, an AFL acknowledged umpire error marred their finish to that game. Can’t forget to mention that.

So what does it all mean?
Shit loads! The winner of this one potentially jumps into the top four, if not they’ll sit loosely in fifth, banging down the door of those above them.
Both teams have a healthy enough percentage that a loss shouldn’t see them drop any further than sixth. But with their eyes on the next fortnight, Geelong will face the Saints in another Friday nighter, and Richmond will face GWS, oddly enough, at Marvel Stadium.

All eyes on:
The Tomahawk- one of the best play on word nicknames in the game, that is. Tom Hawkins has kicked 14 goals from his seven games so far this season. For anyone who didn’t pass grade 3 maths, that’s a two goals a game average. Not poor by any standards for a forward, however by the lofty standards we’ve come to expect from Hawkins and his distinguished career, it’s a little lean. He has two bags of three goals against Brisbane and West Coast, three bags of two and two games with a single goal. He hasn’t gone goalless yet this season, showing that he presents still in every game and hasn’t gone completely missing. You just feel like he’s due for a big game. He sat on 15 goals at the same point in the season of 2019 (not using 2020 as a comparison due to the discrepancies in match and season length) having not kicked more than three goals in a game, he then came out and kicked a dominant bag of four against North Melbourne, a total which could’ve easily been inflated had he not dished off a few easy scores to teammates.
With the inclusion of Jeremy Cameron and alongside Gary Rohan, he has some formidable assistance up forward to help lighten his load. But any week now, we should expect Hawkins to beat his chest and kick a characteristic bag of goals and dominate his forward line.

Boltin’ Bolton- I came THIS close (I lifted my hand and almost touched my index finger to my thumb) to giving Shai Bolton a good, positive rev up last week. This bloody close, but I opted to cover the entire Richmond midfield in the absence of Martin, Lambert and Prestia. Bolton just goes under the radar of so many opposition players and coaches. He showed against the dogs that he has the pace to match the run of any midfield, he has poise with his kicks and finds targets, and he kickes goals. At only 22 years of age, this kid has some career ahead of him. He’s already a two-time premiership player, from memory he also took out both a Goal of the Year and a Mark of the Year award in the same season at VFL level. He currently ranks elite and above average in the majority of his most important stats. Going forward I’d love to see Richmond roll the dice with him more, especially when the game is on the line. He’s shown before that he has the composure.

Teams

Greater Western Sydney vs Essendon

When & Where?
Saturday 8th May, Giants Stadium.

Snapshot
The Giants went one way, and the Bombers went another. GWS sent Adelaide packing and didn’t ease up as they piled on the goals early crusied to an easy victory. The Bombers played the back and forth game against Carlton and eventually lost out. One thing Essendon have changed up this season is the relinquishment of the unoffical Worsfold player policy, in which we’d see a young player earn a game at top level, only to be dropped back to the reserves to “find some form” after only a couple of senior games. Ben Rutten is putting his faith in younger players to take the club forward, and ensuring they all get a crack at the big time if warranted. Leon Cameron had a few question marks over his head earlier in the season, but after a couple of good wins the Giants should be looking to climb back into the eight.

So what does it all mean?
If the Giants get the four points they’ll be sitting equal with multiple other teams. The race for the eight is tight, and any win/loss can have you climbing or sliding. Essendon are 15th with only two wins for the season. Plenty of positive signs starting to show and a lot of media drumming around their younger players and the way their list is starting to take shape. As with Hawthorn and North Melbourne, you don’t expect Essendon to win many games this year, but their season should be judged on the development of their younger players. Giants at home will be a great test for the Dons.

All eyes on:
Back to Backman- It’ll be a big week for the defenders of both sides. The Bombers backline has gone through a few personal changes this season due to injury, as has the Giants. Jesse Hogan debuted for GWS last week and kicked four goals. Paired with the dangerous Toby Greene, as well as Himmelberg and Finlayson, the Don’s Defense will have quite the challenge. With their star defender Jordan Ridley returning last week after missing Anzac Day due to suffering a concussion the week prior, Essendon will look to him to regain his early season form that saw him thrown in All Australian talks. Jayden Laverde is another who is flirting with the idea of breathing new life into his career. After a position change saw him rubbed out as a high half forward utility, and promptly thrown down back as a mid-sized, lockdown defender. James Stewart also returned from injury for his first game last week and held a tight blanket early over superstar young forward Harry McKay, keeping him goalless in the first half. Giants; Perryman, Ash and Taylor will also have their hands full as the Bombers forwardline is starting to take shape with a mix of youth and experience. Hooker sits 3rd in the Coleman Medal fresh off a bag of five goals against the Blues, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti isn’t far behind him, kicking nine snags from his past two games. Jake Stringer is proving potent and looking back to his best, playing that forward press role from the centre bounce and young beanpole Harrison Jones is sjowing signs of great progression. If this game goes the way of a shootout, the defenders will have their hands full for either team.

Taranto & Whitfield- The last few times GWS have played the Bombers, Tim Taranto, Lachie Whitfield and Jacob Hopper have all passed the test and dominated throughout the game. Along with injured skipper Stephen Coniglio, the Giants midfield has continued to run rampant against Essendon’s time and time again. This year should be no exception. Darcy Parish has stepped up alongside Zac Merrett to fill the holes left by injured Dylan Shiel and former Giant Jye Caldwell, but at their best, the Giants are a cut above. Tim Taranto has continued his career best form this season and shows not a single sign of taking a back step. Carlton’s Ed Curnow showed some success in tagging Zac Merrett in their win last week. Take away that first link in the Bomber’s running style and their game plan is all of a sudden turned on it’s head. Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly thrown in the mix shows a great flex for GWS, the former having a stellar start to his season, returning to the side last week.

Teams

Gold Coast vs St. Kilda

When & Where?
Saturday 8th May, Metricon Stadium

Snapshot
The Suns pulled off one of their more memorable wins in recent times against the Magpies at the MCG last week. Their midfield cohesion proved too strong for that of the Pies and a young forward line looked to pile on goals and lock the ball in their forward half. The Saints were roused as they broke the shackles and punished a wayward Hawthorn. The difference in that team’s structure by the return of Paddy Ryder to the ruck and Brad Hill rediscovering his form was phenomenal. They looked and played like a contending team. It’s time they started winning games to become that contending team and shake the tag of being a pretending team. It’s been a ripping contest the past four times these teams have played, with the Suns coming agonisingly close each time. All four games have been decided by less than a goal.
R10 2020 – GC 74 – STK 78
R1 2019 – GC 84 STK 85
R13 2019 – GC 76 – STK 80
R13 2018 – GC 78 – STK 80
Unbelievably close!

So what does it all mean?
Gold Coast go into this game with back-to-back wins for the first time since rounds three and four of last season. They’ve started their season with a horror run of injuries to key players, but their current crop are holding their own. With their reasonable percentage, a win would have the Suns pushing their case to crack the top eight. Saints are in a similar boat. They haven’t won two on the trot since last season and will be looking to continue last week’s blistering forward press against the Suns.

All eyes on:
King of Kings- The last time these two teams met was in round 10 of the 2020 season, this was also the first time Ben and Max King played against each other at AFL level. Ben finished the day kicking 3.1 and Max a singular goal. The twin brothers were taken in the 2018 National Draft, Max went to St. Kilda at pick four and Ben went to Gold Coast at pick six. Career to date Max has totalled 33 goals from his 24 games and Ben has amassed 62 goals from his 38 games. This season Ben has been a focal point up forward for the Suns, kicking 20 goals and playing all seven games. Max has played six games for the Saints, but only kicked 11 goals. You would say Max’s lower tally would have a lot to do with the Saint’s struggles to kick a score this year.
Now, almost 12 months after they first played against each other. The twin towers are set to oppose each other at opposite ends of the ground once again. St. Kilda’s forward line has started to fire now that Rowan Marshall is free to take a tall defender, and the Suns have improved their scoring immensely, managing to still kick a respectable score in some of their losses. With the way football is being played at the minute, will we be in for a shootout between brothers?

Greenwood, Too good- Every once in a while a club picks up a player for next to no cost and their contribution to that team borders on priceless. That is Gold Coast and Hugh Greenwood. The NBL convert played 51 games for Adelaide before being traded to the Suns for a future 3rd round and future 4th round picks in 2019. Since crossing over his value has increased ten-fold. Along with Brandon Ellis and Touk Miller, Greenwood is up front and centre leading the charges with this young Gold Coast team. His disposal may not be elite and he isn’t considered a top ranked midfielder, but his pressure and his tackling are second to none in his team. A comment was made that Greenwood is the type of player that makes you feel two foot taller when you line up along side him. Senior coach Stuart Dew will no doubt be relying on Greenwood’s pressure to quell the influences of Jack Steele along with the rest of the Saints midfield.

Teams

North Melbourne vs Collingwood

When & Where?
Saturday 8th May, Marvel Stadium

Snapshot
It’s the bottom of the table clash, it’s 17th playing 18th, it’s no wins for the season versus one win for the season, it’s bragging rights, it’s the kind of game that could sign a coach’s death warrant. How much longer will Collingwood retain their faith in Nathan Buckley? They’ve sent players packing in a tumultuous offseason, I don’t even need to go into the dramas that they’ve had with their former president. It’s a constant trail of eggshells to walk on around that football club and it’s only going to get harder for them. North are a team in the depths of a rebuild. They’re playing the youth, they’re getting games into them and they’re trying to establish a game plan that’ll carry them back into contention.

So what does it all mean?
In the context of the season, this match means very little. North Melbourne were very much in their game against Melbourne last week. They lead into the third quarter and pushed the Demons to their limits. A late flurry of goals to Melbourne and tiring Kangaroos legs ultimately cost them down in Tasmania. The final margin swelled and didn’t accurately reflect how tight that game really was. Collingwood just never got going against the Suns and their season has really slipped away from them. A win would do them not much more than slightly regain some composure.

All eyes on:
Scott Pendlebury- Along with Jack Crisp have almost single handedly kept the Collingwood midfield afloat this season. Steele Sidebottom has been down on his usually sky high form, even the million dollar man Brody Grundy hasn’t absolutely ripped a game to shreds as we’ve seen him do week in, week out. But that could be all about to change. The potential ruck battle of Grundy vs Goldstein could be a pearler! In years gone by Todd Goldstein has danced with the idea of being one of the top ruckmen in the competition, although eventually and comprehensively overtaken by Grundy and Gawn. Seeing these two big bodied giants going at one another is definitely a match up that will strike interest. Seeing Pendlebury and Crisp go toe to toe with Jack Ziebell and Ben Cunnington could make for a much closer match than anticipated. If North remembered to pack that level of intensity that they played with last week in their suitcases when they flew home from Tassie, then this could be a game worth tuning in to. Expect the Collingwood captain to run riot and look back to his best this weekend.

Let the kids play- Seeing Tom Powell and Will Phillips get a game every week must be a highlight for North fans. Just as Essendon, Hawthorn and other rebuilding clubs are doing, it’s a great insight into where a young player is at. The more games you can get into them in a season where there is very little expectation on the team, the better. It’s a good christening for the younger players and a bit of a gaze into the crystal ball of life as a professional football player for them. They’re gaining invaluable experience that they can’t get playing in the VFL. Neither of these boys numbers have been off the charts so far this season, but they are however showing potential. Just last week, Philips gathered a ground ball, ran hard on the boundary and narrowly missed a miracle goal as Steven May got a fingertip to it. The kids are showing gradual signs, and coach David Noble isn’t afraid to play them.

Teams

Melbourne vs Sydney

When & Where?
Saturday 8th May, MCG.

Snapshot
If you’re chasing a match with very little riding on it, stick to the previous game, because this ain’t it! This is one of those games like Bulldogs vs Richmond or Geelong vs Sydney of last week. The results don’t just affect those playing, but those around them on the ladder. Melbourne will look to hold onto their place atop of the AFL ladder by beating Sydney at the MCG. The last time Sydney played at the MCG they shocked the football world by beating Richmond by 45 points in round three.

So what does it all mean?
And there it is, I’ve done it again. Just once I’d like to go a week where I didn’t end up typing the wrong bit in the wrong section. Just one week!
Anyways, if the Swans lose this one, the winner of Geelong/Richmond will almost certainly overtake them. They’ll also have the other teams below them soon nipping at their heels. Sydney started this season so well, but the wheels are just starting to loosen up a bit. They haven’t fallen off yet, but losing this one would definitely send one bouncing down the road. For Melbourne, losing games from here on out could cause them to constantly play a game of leapfrog with the Bulldogs. Melbourne lose and Bulldogs win, they switch and vice versa.

All eyes on:
The Sydney additions- One huge factor in this game is the potential inclusions. Sydney are looking at the possibility of Buddy Franklin and Dane Rampe returning from injury, as well as Georgie Hewett should come back in after missing last week with a concussion. No one reading this should need to be told of Buddy’s history at the MCG. Some of his greatest early career highlights occurred there. In his 16 career games against Melbourne, Buddy has only lost once. But! Surprisingly, he’s only kicked 43.46 in those 16 games. Expansion clubs and Hawthorn aside, the only club he’s scored less against is Fremantle. In saying that, that’s still a tick over 2.5 goals every time he plays them. Fair from a poor return! Between him and their star defender in Rampe, they’ll be bolstered to take on Melbourne.

Fritsch-en aid- Bayley Fritsch tore the heart out of North Melbourne supporters, kicking three goals in the third quarter on his way to six for the day and putting the game out of their reach. He now sits on 18 goals for the season and is Melbourne’s leading goal kicker. He’s narrowly escaped a suspension for a high fend off on Tom Powell, meaning he’ll be right to play this week. He’s kicked four goals against Geelong and three against GWS the week prior, eclipsing his previous best of three goals in a game against Essendon in 2020. He’s taking marks contested and on the lead and he’s kicking goals. It’s no wonder Melbourne signed him for a further two years in 2020.

Teams

 

Port Adelaide vs Adelaide

When & Where?
Saturday 8th May, Adelaide Oval.

Snapshot
It’s the tale of prison bar oppression. Somehow, the South Australian Showdown that pits two teams with a massive rivalry and hatred for each other, has been put on the backburner and overshadowed by big bad Collingwood and their AFL cronies who won’t share the black and white pencils at the kiddies table. Maybe the AFL knows Port would make terrible toilet paper because you’ll never tear them apart.  But in terms of the game, you couldn’t set a better scene. It’s Showdown XLIX (that’s 49 for those of you who haven’t seen all 64 Rocky movies). The ledger? Sits at a perfect 24-24. That’s right, the winner will hold bragging rights until they meet again later in the season for Showdown L. Maybe I’ll stick with with Showdown 50? Showdown L just reminds me of the cutthroat ‘Q-Clash’..

So what does it all mean?
Besides ultimate bragging rights, both teams could use this win for the premiership points alone. Port are sitting at third, but with so many teams sitting just a game below them, a loss will really start applying heat to their position. Adelaide on the other hand have dropped to 13th after three straight losses following their admirable start to the season. The win would push them one step closer to rejoining the top eight.

All eyes on:
A Pair Of Roaring Rorys- Adelaide are set to be bolstered by the return of their captain, Rory Sloane. After experiencing blurry vision at training last month, Sloane was diagnosed with a detached retina and the subsequent surgery has cost him a month of football. What a time and place to return! No bigger stage for a South Australian footballer than the Showdown. Flip the coin to Adelaide’s other Rory – Rory Laird. He’s played every game this season and he’s averaging a tick shy of 30 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles. He has been the beating heart of the Crow’s midfield to date. It’ll be a thrilling contest for him to go head to head with Ollie Wines, Travis Boak, Karl Amon and the rest of the Power’s premier centre line.

Ruck Me Beautiful- Scott Lycett’s season to date has been more than handy for the Power. The 28 year old is career best form, playing every game of the season so far. He had Peter Ladhams earlier in the season which freed him up to slip forward and kick the odd goal, but since he has shouldered the bulk of the ruck work. The former Eagle, who left as a free agent after their 2018 Grand Final victory, will come up against formidable adversary Reilly O’Brien who is in a similar vein of form. After battling honourably against Rowan Marshall in round six as Port rolled over the Saints, however his colours were somewhat lowered against Brisbane in a messy affair last week. Going into the game as outright favourites, the Power will look to Lycett to fuel their midfield this week with his clean tapwork.

Teams

Hawthorn vs West Coast

When & Where?
Sunday 9th May, MCG.

Snapshot
The Hawks will look to bounce back from a demoralising loss to the Saints last week, but the opposition only gets tougher. Since 2008 the Hawks have hosted the Eagles at the MCG six times and taken the chocolates in five of them. It’s no secret that the Eagles have a little bit of a monkey on their backs when it comes to playing interstate. They will definitely look to drop the flat track perception this week by beating Hawthorn comfortably in Melbourne. There will be no mention of any injury lists for this game. After underselling it two weeks ago, then overselling it last week, I think it’s best if we tiptoe around the touchy subject.

So what does it all mean?
Not a great deal in terms of Hawthorn’s ladder placement, but a young team can still learn a lot from a win, especially against a stronger team. For the Eagles, it’s a matter of them keeping in touch with the top eight. If they keep dropping games interstate then they’ll have their backs against the wall all season. Leading up to the bye, West Coast’s month of football ahead of them will see them facing only teams below them on the ladder, including three games away from home.

All eyes on:
Eye in the sky- Hawthorn went in way too tall against St. Kilda last week. A big deal has been made about it publicly and it’s known that Clarko is rolling the dice with some of his younger players. Hawthorn will be hopeful to regain Chad Wingard and Jaeger O’Meara this week which would be a huge boost. With the teams not released yet, one would think that the Hawks will definitely look to cut down some of that height this week. They’ll be coming up against a fiery Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling that have kicked 16 and 19 goals respectively for the season. It’ll be a big test for Sam Frost and Kyle Hartigan to put the clamps of two of West Coast’s strongest forwards.

Andrew Gaff- Isnt it funny how quick to jump the gun some poeple are? After two poor games to start the season where he amassed only 32 disposals and three clearances between the Gold Coast and the Bulldogs games, some were questioning Andrew Gaff’s place in this West Coast midfield. When some photos of coach Adam Simpson and Gaff having a lengthy chat at training circulated throughout the media, many reported that his papers were signed and that the Eagles were looking at off-loading their gun runner. Fast forward to only round seven and Gaff is now averaging 27 disposals, eight marks, five score involvements, three clearances and a consistent 350 metres gained per match. Pretty impressive numbers for a bloke that was rumoured to getting shown the door only a month ago. There was a passage of play last week against the Dockers where he gathered the ground ball, broke a tackle, and made an effective kick forward. It doesn’t sound like much, but the way he kicked through traffic was sublime. It was almost as if time had stood still, he was amongst so many opposition players, yet he made the time get the kick away. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of this, especially coming up against a couple of top-quality players on Hawthorn’s wings.

Teams

 

Western Bulldogs vs Carlton

When & Where?
Sunday 9th May, Marvel Stadium

Snapshot
Fresh off their first lost of the season, the Doggies will be out for redemption. They’ll tackle a Carlton side that are up and about after a midfield masterclass- from Sam Walsh against old rival Essendon last week. It will be imperative for the Bulldogs to get a win here before they travel to Adelaide to take on Port next week. Carlton’s propositions won’t get any easier as they’ll be up against Melbourne at the MCG next week. Last time these two teams met Carlton ran away 52 point winners as Eddie Betts and Harry McKay ruled the ground and the sky’s and combined for seven goals.

So what does it all mean?
If you’re the Bulldogs, you simply must win. Due to your rich percentage, a loss won’t see you drop from second, but you’ll have a plethora of teams now a game closer to gaining on you. If you’re the Blues, every win from here is really going to count. You need to keep in touch with the eight, and facing the two top teams for two weeks in a row can really prove to be the make or break moment in your season.

All eyes on:
Patrick Cripps- This kid has been the beating heart and the spine of this team for the past half a dozen seasons, at least. After the retirement of Chris Judd, he shouldered the burden of an undermanned midfield on his own back from a young age and literally carried this team. Many are predicting his future for him; will he stay or will he go? In the immediate future however, it’s clear to see that he’s tired. Is he carrying an injury? He was down on his illustrious best last week against the Bombers, he was even further down against Brisbane the week before. Is it just a matter of taking him for granted to a point where his average seems lesser than our expectations? Or is the continual emergence of Sam Walsh taking eyes and some pressure off him at the coalface? Either way, if he’s not under an injury cloud, the Blues’ hopes of beating one of the strongest midfields in the comp will hinge on his ability to win the ball and work in sync with Walsh and Curnow.

Teams

Brisbane vs Fremantle

When & Where?
Sunday 9th May, Gabba.

Snapshot
Heres two teams that are sitting in a similar predicament. The difference being that Brisbane were widely tipped to finish high up the ladder this season, not so many people had Fremantle’s aspirations as high. They currently sit at seventh and ninth position, such is the curve ball of the 2021 season to date. After a rough start to their season, Brisbane are now on a winning streak of three in a row, including a powerful statement over Port Adelaide last week. Fremantle were in a similar position, they surprised most by winning their last three games, before falling to West Coast in the Western Derby last weekend.

So what does it all mean?
This is another simple equation. If Fremantle win, they keep themselves in the hunt to crack the eight. Pending other games and their own margin, they could be sitting back inside the top eight by the end of this round. As for the Lions, if they’re to drop this one, then they’ll be every chance of finding themselves outside of the eight, with spots up for grabs every week for winning teams.

All eyes on:
Lion’s Lyons- Jarryd Lyons is having a season to date. He’s not a name that commands the headlines that others do, but he’s a name that Chris Fagan relies on every single week to the job required of him, and he does it with aplomb. This week will be a big test, with Mundy playing like an old man possessed and with youngsters Brayshaw and Serong taking prime midfield spots, it’s allowed Fyfe to drift forward and cause headaches for defenders, even if he’s not hitting the scoreboard. Brisbane will require every ounce of pressure from their mids, but they’ll be buoyed by the fact that players like Lyons and McCluggage have the skill and the reliability to get the job done and hit the scoreboard while they’re at it. Goal-kicking midfielders are treated like gold in today’s game, and Brisbane are blessed to covet multiple runners and tacklers that have the ability to damage the opponent by scoring.

Defense down- Alarm bells ringing for the Fremantle medical department.. what else is knew? If there’s a team that can’t catch a break with injuries, surely it’s Fremantle? Off the top of my head I can’t think of a team that has suffered more casualties in the past few seasons. After last week’s Derby loss to West Coast, it appears that the Dockers will now lose Luke Ryan, Ethan Hughes and Heath Chapman. Just when they start to win games and show their potential as a young team, they’re struck down and lose three defenders in one foul swipe. With the possibility of James Aish being able to play down back, this will be a very different looking Fremantle side than the one we’ve seen for the past few weeks.

And that’ll just about do it for this week folks. Again, if you made it through the entire article, I appreciate your support. Feel free to chuck a like or a comment, tell your mates, tell your Dad, tell your Nan, or hit close and never think of it again. Regardless, enjoy your weekend of football.

 

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