Last weekend was the last of the split rounds for the 2016 AFL season as the 18 clubs build towards the business end of the year. For the third straight weekend, just six AFL matches were contested while the other six teams were issued with the round 15 bye.
With all 18 clubs playing the nine matches this week, the action again begins on a Thursday night when the ladder-leading Hawks travel to Adelaide to take on the in-form Power. Then on Friday, the match of the round arrives when two of the competition favourites clash at Simonds Stadium in Geelong. The Cats have a great record over the Swans and will look to re-establish their credentials by toppling the 2012 premiers at home.
Saturday features a host of matches including the Giants v Magpies, Q-Clash part II with the Lions playing the Suns on the Gold Coast, the Bulldogs up against the Tigers and the Demons waging war with the Dockers in the Northern Territory.
Then on the final day of the AFL’s round 16 card, the Blues and Crows battle, the Bombers and Saints clash but the feature Sunday match-up pits the West Coast Eagles up against North Melbourne at Perth’s Domain Stadium.
Thursday, July 7, 7:50pm (AEST) @ Adelaide Oval
The Power have won three of their last four matches against the Hawks including a last start 22-point win in August last season, however the Hawks are leading the competition (again) and are in fine touch. Last weekend Port comfortably disposed of the Bombers and will need to summon even more strength to topple the defending premiers this weekend.
Hawthorn is just being typical Hawthorn, leading the competition and looking as though a fourth straight flag is a mere formality. The Hawks earned a well-deserved break last weekend with the AFL scheduling just six matches for the weekend, but in their last start, Alastair Clarkson’s troops were impressive in dismantling the improving Suns by 26 points.
No changes from each team's last match.
Friday, July 8, 7:50pm (AEST) @ Simonds Stadium
Geelong was afforded a round 15 bye but, like Sydney, they were beaten in their last start match. That loss to massive underdogs St Kilda was their third loss to a less-favoured opposition this season. The Cats typically beat sides in the same class as them but struggle against the likes of Carlton, Collingwood and the Saints. Expect a massive game from key Cats Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood and Brownlow Medal favourite Patrick Dangerfield.
Sydney and Geelong are two of the most favoured by UBET punters to win the flag this season but the Swans’ last start loss to the Dogs would be concerning for coach John Longmire. Prior to that loss, however, Sydney was in electric form pushing past the Demons to record an impressive 55-point win. The Bloods’ loss on Saturday evening means they have won just one of their last three AFL games.
The home side has named Mitch Clark, Nakia Cockatoo and Darcy Lang, while the Swans have named Ted Richards, Aliir Aliir, Sam Naismith and Tom Papley in what will be Kieren Jack's 200th match for the glamour Sydney club.
Saturday, July 9, 1:40pm (AEST) @ Spotless Stadium
GWS is enjoying its best season since its inception in 2012. The Giants have stormed past premiership heavyweights such as Geelong, Sydney, Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs this year and are tipped by UBET customers to give the premiership a huge shake. Star recruit Stevie Johnson has lived up to the hype by putting in plenty of high quality games while Shane Mumford has been at his brutal best throughout the year.
Collingwood flexed a bit of muscle on the weekend when they powered past the Blues to secure their sixth win of the season. Despite that victory, the Pies are considered next to no chance of making the finals as they are still three wins adrift of the eight placed Eagles. The fact the Magpies play one of the flag favourites this weekend does not bode well for their finals hopes.
Adam Kennedy, Jack Steele, Devon Smith and Adam Tomlinson return for the Giants. The Pies have named Jonathon Marsh, Taylor Adams, Alex Fasolo, Jesse White and Brent Macaffer.
Saturday, July 9, 4:35pm (AEST) @ Metricon Stadium
The second instalment of the AFL’s Q-Clash takes place at the home venue of the Suns on the Gold Coast on Saturday evening. With the Suns finally snapping a very concerning losing streak last weekend, Rodney Eade’s men will be full of confidence. Gold Coast is seeking retribution for losing their fourth round encounter to the Lions at the Gabba earlier this year.
The Lions’ lone win in 2016 came against the Suns back in mid-April but since then, the woeful Brisbane club has been nothing short of disappointing. If it wasn’t for the 12 Essendon players being banned from playing in the AFL this season, the Lions would be sitting alone at the bottom of the ladder. Brisbane’s record against the Gold Coast is pretty good and they should fancy their chances against their Queensland rivals.
Jarrod Garlett was named earlier this week by the Suns, while the Lions have named Dayne Zorko and Rueben William in place of Ben Keays and Josh Walker.
Saturday, July 9, 7:25pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
The Western Bulldogs produced some of their best footy over the weekend, on their way to a much-needed win over competition heavyweights the Swans in Sydney. That victory created a log jam in the middle of the ladder with six teams, including the Dogs and Bloods all on 40 points, with premiers Hawthorn one win ahead on top of the table.
Richmond couldn’t match the feat of the Bulldogs last weekend, going down to the Power at Adelaide Oval on Friday night. That loss on the weekend all but extinguished any hope the Tigers have of cracking the AFL’s top eight. In fact it would take a small miracle and a series of fortunate results to fall their way if they are to make the finals this season.
Fletcher Roberts and Koby Stevens were named for the Dogs after last week's tight win over the Swans. The Tigers welcome Daniel Rioli, Oleg Markov, Shaun Hampson, Jason Castagna and Liam McBean to this week's squad.
Saturday, July 9, 7:40pm (AEST) @ TIO Stadium
Last week the Demons went down to the Crows in Melbourne, but they didn’t lose without putting up a brave fight, eventually losing by 22 points to one of the flag favourites. The Dees are not considered any hope of making the finals but given the form of midfielder Bernie Vince and forward Jeff Garlett, they are more than capable of worrying opponents over the next couple of months.
Fremantle has been the most disappointing team in the AFL this year. They have gone from world-beating minor premiers to easy-beats in the space of one off-season. After losing their first 10 matches in 2016, they did claw back some pride with three straight wins, however they are last start losers after Collingwood easily beat them. Freo is coming off a bye and should be fresh in a bid to restore some lost pride.
Jack Grimes and Mitch White return for the Dees, while the Dockers have named Garrick Ibbotson, Jonathon Griffin and Ed Langdon in their squad.
Sunday, July 10, 1:10pm (AEST) @ MCG
Carlton is not considered a genuine chance of playing in the finals, much less winning its first flag in 21 years. Last weekend’s loss to bitter foes Collingwood ended any hopes they had of playing September footy. The topsy-turvy nature of that clash saw a host of lead changes but the Blues were simply unable to match the intensity of the Pies eventually losing by 12 points.
The Crows are in a much better situation than this weekend’s opponents. Adelaide currently sits in equal second position (with five other clubs) on 40 points – just one win shy of the ladder-leading defending premiers Hawthorn. Last week, Eddie Betts and captain Tex Walker masterminded and executed the Crows game plan on their way to beating the Demons by 22 points.
Dennis Armfield, Dylan Buckley, Nick Graham and Jason Tutt come into the Blues' set-up. The Crows have named Paul Seedsman, Wayne Milera, Ricky Henderson and Jake Kelly.
Sunday, July 10, 3:20pm (AEST) @ Domain Stadium
West Coast currently sits in outright eighth position on the AFL ladder, however they are incredibly just two wins from first position. There are six teams locked on 40 competition points and the Eagles are two wins clear of the ninth placed Power. Last week the Eagles, expectedly, easily dispatched of the hapless Bombers in Perth but that win is hardly a gauge of how they will perform this weekend against the Roos.
North Melbourne, along with five other clubs, is among a log jam on 40 competition points, just one win shy of ladder leaders Hawthorn and one win shy of dropping out of the finals contention altogether. The Kangaroos had a well-timed bye last weekend after suffering three straight losses to premiership heavyweights Geelong, Hawthorn and Adelaide.
Josh Hill, Jack Redden and Liam Duggan have been added to an extended Eagles squad. Jed Anderson, Ryan Clarke and Majak Daw have been named for what will be Andrew Swallow's 200th match.
Sunday, July 10, 4:40pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
Despite suffering a 78-point loss last weekend, the Bombers were not as bad as the end score reflected. West Coast did not actually really put the severely depleted Dons to the sword until the final quarter and after all is said and done, coach John Worsfold should be pretty happy his team was able to test the Eagles in Perth, considering how powerful the Perth club is when playing at their home ground.
Unlike the Bombers, the Saints would not be proud of their weekend display after they suffered a 40-point loss to a team that hadn’t won since round three this year. St Kilda’s loss to the Gold Coast Suns was one of their worst displays of 2016 and considering they were backing up from such a gutsy win over an extremely strong Geelong team the week before, makes it an even more unforgivable loss. That capitulation to the Suns all but ends any chance the Saints have of making the finals in 2016.
The Bombers have summoned mass changes with Sam Michael, Patrick Ambrose, Shaun McKernan, Aaron Francis, Kyle Langford, Jayden Laverde, Conor McKenna and James Polkinghorne named. St Kilda also added plenty of players in the form of Sean Dempster, Eli Templeton, Nathan Wright, Daniel McKenzie and Lewis Pierce.