After a thrilling opening week of AFL action, all eyes will turn to the MCG, which will host three epic matches this weekend. First up at the ‘G’ is Collingwood hosting first-up winners Richmond. The Tigers were expected to flog the Blues in round one, but only a last quarter surge saw them eventually dispose of Carlton.
Then the undermanned Essendon host the Dees before the match of the round takes centre stage – the grand final replay of Hawthorn versus West Coast.
The Hawks will be heavily favoured to continue their run of east coast victories over the Eagles. The other big game is ‘The Showdown’ between the two South Australian based clubs. The Crows and Power have been involved in some epic clashes over the years and this match is not expected to disappoint.
Friday, April 1, 6:50 pm (AEST) @ Melbourne Cricket Ground
Coming off the biggest hiding of round one, Collingwood will be keen to atone against the more fancied Tigers on home soil.
Richmond were far from their best against Carlton. Despite going into the game as heavy favourites, the Tigers trailed the Blues at three-quarter time before coming home with a wet sail in the last to eventually register a nine point win.
The Magpies were annihilated at the SCG against the Swans. Their 80-point drubbing was embarrassing for Nathan Buckley’s team. They were victims of Buddy Franklin’s return to the game.
The Pies will be without Dane Swan for an extended period after he suffered a serious leg and foot injury in his side’s loss to Sydney. Steele Sidebottom is serving a suspension and Jarrod Witts sustained a hand injury. Daniel Rioli and Shane Edwards were injured the Tigers' win over the Blues.
Saturday, April 2, 1:45 pm (AEST) @ Adelaide Oval
If the grand final rematch wasn’t on this weekend, this would be the match of the round. The Showdown tends to deliver an epic match between the Power and Crows. Their last meeting was widely regarded as the best encounter between the SA clubs.
That round 16 encounter was a tribute match to former coach, Phil Walsh who was allegedly murdered by his son. The Crows’ three-point win was played in front of a record Adelaide Oval AFL crowd of almost 55,000 fans.
In the opening week, Adelaide fought hard against the Lions but couldn’t get the win, going down by 10 points at Etihad Stadium. Back in Adelaide, the Power struggled to account for St Kilda, but did manage to kick clear in the third term.
Crows captain Taylor Walker has declared himself a certain starter despite the presence of a niggling foot injury. Port forward Matt White will miss the next three months after completely tearing his pectoral muscle on the weekend. His replacement is Jimmy Toumpas.
Saturday, April 2, 3:40 pm (AEST) @ Domain Stadium
The Dockers were one of the most disappointing teams of the first round, losing to the Bulldogs by 65 points. Fremantle should be better now they have put that woeful performance behind them. They started that match favourites and have begun this clash as short priced favourites.
The Gold Coast registered an easy 61 point win over the luckless Bombers, but that is not an accurate gauge of how they stack up against other clubs. Gary Ablett inspired the Suns to victory with 34 disposals and was one of 11 goal kickers last weekend.
Last time the Suns and Fremantle met in the west was in 2014 and it was a one-sided affair with the home team running away with the match by 48 points. Last year’s only clash was also won by Freo in a much tighter game.
The big in for the Dockers is the return of ruckman Aaron Sandilands from suspension for rough conduct in the NAB Challenge. For the Suns, there have been no major changes from the team that pumped the Dons.
Sunday, April 3, 3:20 pm (AEST) @ Melbourne Cricket Ground
The grand final replay is undoubtedly the match of the round and one the Eagles would have had their eyes on since losing the decider last October.
The Hawks were clearly the better team in the grand final and ended up punishing West Coast on the code’s biggest stage. In that game, Hawthorn exacted revenge for their qualifying final loss to the Eagles in Perth.
The Eagles are on a worrying losing streak in the code’s capital as well. It will be something they will want to rectify as soon as possible too. Given Hawthorn’s slow start to the year, which saw them lose to Geelong, the Eagles will rarely get a better chance of causing a Melbourne boilover.
The Eagles' only injury concern from their round one win is Xavier Ellis (Achilles), while the Hawks will be without skipper Luke Hodge (broken arm), who joins a concerning injury list at Waverley Park.