A blockbuster match-up begins week six of the AFL season when the undefeated ladder leaders North Melbourne host the in-form Western Bulldogs on Friday night at Etihad Stadium.
Five matches will be played on Saturday. The Demons start as deserved favourites to notch their third successive win over St Kilda. In Adelaide, the Crows will be expected to force Fremantle into a sixth straight loss to begin 2016. The Giants host the high-flying Hawks, Richmond have a chance to register a rare win at home against the Power, while the Cats play the out-of-sorts Brisbane Lions in Geelong.
Old rivals Essendon and Carlton are each hoping for a second win on Sunday at the MCG. The final match of round six features last year’s grand finalists West Coast up against last start winners, Collingwood at Domain Stadium in Perth.
Friday, April 29, 7:50 pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
The Kangaroos are the only unbeaten team in the AFL after five rounds and the Western Bulldogs have only lost one match; and that was to the defending premiers, Hawthorn.
The Kangaroos are slight favourites to continue their perfect start to the year and after their resounding 38 point demolition of the Suns last week, they deserve the favouritism tag. Prior to victory over the Gold Coast, North has conquered Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Fremantle.
The Bulldogs have strung together back-to-back victories after an easy 53 point win over the Lions last week. Since losing to the Hawks in round three, they recuperated to dispose of the Blues before beating Brisbane.
The Kangaroos have wisely decided against changing a winning formula. The Western Bulldogs have replaced the injured Matt Suckling with key defender Fletcher Roberts in their only change.
Saturday, April 30, 2:10 pm (AEST) @ Adelaide Oval
Fremantle remains the only team without a win so far in 2016 and the fact they have lost their best player for the season only adds to their woes. The loss of Brownlow Medalist, Nat Fyfe, means their odds of upsetting the Crows in Adelaide are not good.
The Crows have crafted together some gutsy wins this season and if not for a late Hawks goal last week, they would be coming into this match on the back of four consecutive wins. Instead they sit on the cusp of the top eight, with three wins and two losses to their name.
Adelaide has not made any adjustments to this week's team, while the Dockers lose Brownlow Medallist, Nat Fyfe and Michael Johnson to injury. That duo is replaced by captain David Mundy and Connor Blakely.
Saturday, April 30, 4:35 pm (AEST) @ Spotless Stadium
The Giants are enjoying their equal best start to a season, backing up their efforts from last year. Their three victories have come against the high-flying Cats in Geelong and they’ve recently posted back-to-back wins against the Power and St Kilda. Those two victories were actually hammerings by 86 and 47 points respectively.
The Hawks are flying high on the back of a four game winning streak. Their only slip-up this season was against old foes Geelong in the opening round of the season. Hawthorns wins have come against last year’s grand final opponents the Eagles, as well as the Bulldogs, St Kilda and the Crows.
Rhys Palmer replaces the injured Devon Smith for the Giants. Billy Hartung and Will Langford are out of the Hawks' team, with Daniel Howe and rookie Kieran Lovell both named.
Saturday, April 30, 7:25 pm (AEST) @ Simonds Stadium
Geelong possesses an imposing record over the Suns and they have kicked off their 2016 AFL campaign in style with four wins to sit inside the top four after five rounds. Their only loss came almost a month ago against the Giants. Last week they had to fight tooth and nail to drag themselves off the canvas against Port, to eventually record an impressive 48 point win in Adelaide.
The Suns’ strong start to the year has been tempered by consecutive losses to the Lions and the undefeated Kangaroos, and they will be desperate to record their first away win over the Cats.
The Suns have made a number of adjustments this week with Adam Saad joining Michael Rischitelli on the sidelines through injury while Luke Russell and Callum Ah Chee have been omitted. Their replacements are Henry Schade, Ryan Davis and McKenzie Willis. The Cats have rested Tom Ruggles and dropped Cory Gregson for Lachie Henderson and Jed Bews.
Saturday, April 30, 7:25 pm (AEST) @ MCG
Richmond received a huge boost on Wednesday, when officials confirmed star vice-captain Brett Deledio would return from a nagging quadriceps injury. The way the Tigers have been playing though, they need more than Deledio to turn around their miserable season that has not featured a win since Easter Thursday.
The Power has been almost as disappointing as Richmond this year. They played a solid first half against Geelong last week but couldn’t quite go on with it as the Cats marched to an easy 48 point win in Adelaide. Port starts as outsiders against Richmond but they will fancy their chances of adding to the Tigers’ losing streak and notching their third win of the season.
Robbie Gray and Chad Wingard are the big outs for Port through injury, while Matthew Lobbe and Karl Amon have been dropped. Jared Polec, Brendon Ah Chee, Jarman Impey, Dougal Howard and Nathan Krakouer are the Power's additions. Richmond welcome back Brett Deledio and Shaun Hampson for the omitted Jacob Townsend and the suspended Alex Rance.
Sunday, May 1, 1:10 pm (AEST) @ Gabba
Brisbane’s campaign was brought straight back to earth last week when the high-flying Western Bulldogs gave the Lions a touch up in Melbourne. They were coming off a hard earned win over the Suns the week before but were no match for one of the favourites to win the 2016 AFL flag.
This week the Lions go up against the second favourites to win the flag; the Sydney Swans. Almost all the stats point to a clinical Swans victory and it’s even harder to argue with the numbers given how impressive Sydney has been so far this season, with four wins and a solitary loss.
Tom Cutler and Josh Green are out of the Lions' team through injury, with Sam Mayes, Nick Robertson, Billy Evans, Daniel McStay and debutant Ben Keays named in the LIons' 25-man squad. The Swans named Aliir Aliir to make his AFL debut and brought in Toby Nankervis, Jack Hiscock and Zak Jones.
Sunday, May 1, 4:40 pm (AEST) @ Domain Stadium
West Coast’s solid start to the year hit a bump last week when the Swans beat them by 39 points at the SCG. They were riding a wave of momentum after back-to-back victories but their trip to Sydney stymied that short streak. All three of the Eagles’ wins in 2016 have come against much weaker opponents in the Lions, Dockers and Tigers, while their losses were against premiership heavyweights Hawthorn and Sydney.
Collingwood would be more relieved than excited after belting Essendon in the Anzac Day blockbuster at the MCG last week. Man of the moment American, Mason Cox would be enjoying his new found fame both in Australia and the USA after booting the first goal last week.
Travis Cloke has not been recalled to the Pies' 22-man squad, which remains unchanged from last week's massacre of Essendon. Scott Lycett returns from suspension for West Coast. Patrick McGinnity, Mark Hutchings and Tom Cole have been named in an extended squad while Fraser McInnes has been dropped.