This weekend is the first of a number of reduced rounds scheduled by the AFL. The halfway mark of the season has passed and with an abundance of injuries and suspension affecting most teams, the bye could not come at a better time for the six teams issued with a rest this weekend.
Last weekend produced a couple of brilliant matches in Geelong’s win over North Melbourne and the Giants’ second ever win over Sydney rivals the Swans. Despite just six matches being played, there are still two predicted epics to be played on Friday and Saturday night.
The first of the feature contests will take place between the defending premiers, the Hawks against the ladder-leading Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium. Hawthorn is coming off a last start win while North suffered just its second loss of the season to fellow premiership heavyweights Geelong. On The following day the Western Bulldogs battle the premiership favourites the Cats.
Friday, June 17, 7:50pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
The Kangaroos still lead the competition despite the loss to the Cats last weekend. In what was a closely contested game, Geelong recruit Patrick Dangerfield ran riot in producing a whopping 48 disposals to guide the glamour club to its ninth win of the season. For North Melbourne, veteran Brent Harvey, in his 421st game, was inspiring with four goals in the 31-point loss.
Prior to this match, the Hawks were at $5.50 to win the competition for a fourth straight year behind Geelong and Sydney (both at $5). Last weekend Hawthorn underlined its premiership credentials with its biggest win of the year; a 108-point walloping of the under-siege Bombers.
Saturday, June 18, 1:40pm (AEST) @ Gabba
Brisbane is stranded in the lower half of the bottom half of the AFL ladder and things certainly don’t look like improving anytime soon. The proud Brisbane club has won just one of its 12 matches in 2016; their solitary win came against the equally as woeful Suns in round four. Last weekend the Lions were completely dominated by fellow battlers Fremantle by an embarrassing 83 points.
West Coast cruised to a 31-point win over the Crows to cement their position in the AFL’s top eight last weekend. The only question marks surrounding the flagship Western Australia club is the ability to perform away from home. The Eagles have won just one away match this season but would probably be unconcerned about a win against the Lions in Brisbane considering how horrible their opponents have been.
Saturday, June 18, 4:35pm (AEST) @ Domain Stadium
The Dockers have endured a rough season, losing their first 10 matches but have since bounced back from obscurity to register back-to-back wins for the first time since round 19 in 2015. Last weekend, Fremantle produced their best performance of the season in disposing of the lame Lions in Brisbane by 83 points. On Saturday, in search of their third straight win, Freo will look to become ‘Threeo’!
Port has been steadily improving throughout a challenging 2016 season. The heartbreaking three-point loss to the Bulldogs would not equate to all doom and gloom for the Power though, because the Bulldogs are one of the flag favourites and for Ken Hinkley’s troopers to take their match-up right down to the wire against the Dogs means good things are coming their way.
Saturday, June 18, 7:25pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
Last weekend the Bulldogs escaped an encounter against the Power by just three points in what was a topsy-turvy encounter. Coach Luke Beveridge rated that “brave” performance as one of the club’s best in his time in charge of the club. The Power produced fierce opening half against the Bulldogs and for them to recover and win in the fashion they did is a testament to Beveridge’s tenure at the Power.
Geelong was ruthless, powerful and brilliant in defeating the ladder-leading Kangaroos on Saturday night. In that match star recruit Patrick Dangerfield produced a master class in arguably his best display at AFL-level. He made a massive 48 disposals and kicked two goals in the Cats’ 31-point victory. This match shapes as the game of the round and Chris Scott’s Cats will be keen to underline their premiership favouritism by defeating fellow flag contenders the Bulldogs.
Sunday, June 19, 1:10pm (AEST) @ SCG
The Swans are equal favourites to take out their second flag in five years with the Cats and have justified the juicy $5 odds in recent weeks despite crumbling to the Giants away from home last weekend. Prior to that loss Buddy Franklin’s team was excellent in posting three straight wins, defeating flag contenders Hawthorn and North Melbourne as well as the struggling Suns.
The Demons are a rapidly improving club and with so many years of consistent losses, it is about time! On the Queen’s Birthday public holiday grudge match against Collingwood, the Dees were clinical the 46-point victory. The standout performer in that match was unquestionably former Crow Bernie Vince, who amassed a massive 42 disposals at the MCG.
Sunday, June 19, 4:40pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
GWS is one of the form teams in the AFL at the moment after knocking off equal premiership favourites and bitter crosstown rivals the Swans by 42 points last Sunday. The Giants have been the surprise packets of 2016 and are well positioned to make a genuine run towards winning the AFL’s youngest club its first flag. GWS is sitting in sixth position; just two wins shy of the ladder-leading Kangaroos.
There is really not much to say about Essendon. This year was always going to be a write off as the embattled wooden spoon favourite deals with the ASADA-imposed suspension to 12 players. Last weekend they were flogged by 108 points and there is no light at the end of what is a very dark tunnel and an extremely dark period in the club’s proud history.