Preview of AFL Round 22 matches (all times AEST).
FRIDAY, Aug 19
Carlton v Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium 7.40pm
Head to Head: Blues 102 Hawks 55
Last clash: Round 9 2010 – Hawks 16.14 (110) bt Blues 8.12 (60) at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Blues $2.20 Hawks $1.65
Sportingbet: Blues $2.25 Hawks $1.66
Remarkably it’s been 453 long days since these two powerhouse Victorian clubs last squared off, when the Hawks took the bragging rights for the seventh straight time. Many of those games have been blowouts too – but this one shapes as a thriller. The return of fullback Michael Jamison gives Brett Ratten another option for the massive task on Coleman Medal frontrunner Lance Franklin. The Blues should dominate the ruck duels through Robbie Warnock and Matthew Kreuzer.
Key: Franklin and Cyril Rioli form the most dynamic one-two attacking punch in the competition. Stop them and you stop the Hawks. But it’s much easier said than done.
Tip: Hawks by 13 points
SATURDAY, Aug 20
Gold Coast Suns v Adelaide at Gold Coast Stadium 2.10pm
Head to Head: Suns 0 Crows 1
Last clash: Round 8 2011 – Crows 20.10 (130) bt Suns 9.19 (73) at AAMI Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Suns $4.25 Crows $1.20
Sportingbet: Suns $4.25 Crows $1.23
As often happens, the installation of a caretaker coach has led to a late-season revival at Adelaide. Mark Bickley’s coaching record reads two wins and an honourable home loss to Geelong. The Crows should make it three out of four under Bickley, with the young Suns showing predictable signs of wear and tear. Nathan Ablett makes a belated debut for the Suns, and will achieve the rare feat of playing alongside his brother Gary at two different clubs.
Key: There are plenty of young Crows eager to make a favourable impression on their new coach – whether that ends up being Bickley or someone else.
Tip: Crows by 44 points
West Coast v Essendon at Subiaco 3.10pm
Head to Head: Eagles 19 Bombers 24
Last clash: Round 7 2011 – Bombers 16.10 (106) bt Eagles 12.18 (90) at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Eagles $1.28 Bombers $3.50
Sportingbet: Eagles $1.30 Bombers $3.60
This shapes as one of the most important clashes between the two clubs since Kevin Sheedy made it fashionable to twirl your jacket above your head to celebrate victory. The Bombers will be weakened by the absence of key-position stars Michael Hurley and Tayte Pears (both general soreness) although Tom Bellchambers returns to bolster the ruck division. One notable absentee for the Eagles will be defensive midfielder Patrick McGinnity, who was suspended for a week for vilifying Ricky Petterd’s mum. Tough nut Beau Waters is a more than adequate replacement.
Key: The Bombers have a dreadful interstate record, nowhere more so than in Perth.
Tip: Eagles by 30 points
North Melbourne v Fremantle at Etihad Stadium 7.10pm
Head to Head: Kangaroos 13 Dockers 7
Last clash: Round 4 2011 – Dockers 18.19 (127) bt Kangaroos 14.14 (98) at Subiaco
Tab Sportsbet: Kangaroos $1.30 Dockers $3.30
Sportingbet: Kangaroos $1.38 Dockers $3.10
North Melbourne are past masters at exceeding outside expectations and flying under the radar. They still need plenty of things to go their way to sneak into the top eight. But it can be done – especially if ruckman Todd Goldstein and midfield stars Daniel Wells, Brent Harvey and Jack Ziebell keep the ball rolling. Freo need plenty from some big names well short of full fitness including Aaron Sandilands, David Mundy and Michael Barlow.
Key: It’s almost unheard of for any club to have the edge in the ruck against a Freo team including Sandilands. But with the seven-footer in just his second game back from a long lay-off and Goldstein going great guns for North, it might just happen here.
Tip: Kangaroos by 16 points
Collingwood v Brisbane at MCG 7.10pm
Head to Head: Magpies 6 Lions 15
Last clash: Round 10 2010 – Lions 13.10 (88) bt Magpies 11.14 (80) at Gabba
Tab Sportsbet: Magpies $1.01 Lions $13.00
Sportingbet: Magpies $1.01 Lions $17.00
There have been plenty of blowouts in 2011 and this could well be another one. Even the absence of skipper Nick Maxwell shouldn’t present much of a problem for the Magpies, as he’s been in patchy form. In contrast, the likes of Leon Davis and Dale Thomas are among a host of Magpies in career-best nick. At least the Lions will have been buoyed by Tom Rockliff’s decision to extend his contract this week. Daniel Rich returns from injury for the first time since round 14.
Key: Towering Magpies forward Travis Cloke leads the league in contested marks. Expect him to take plenty more against an undersized Lions’ back six.
Tip: Magpies by 72 points
SUNDAY, Aug 21
Sydney v St Kilda at ANZ Stadium 1.10pm
Head to Head: Swans 124 Saints 76 drawn 3
Last clash: Round 1 2010 – Saints 15.6 (96) bt Swans 13.10 (88) at ANZ Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Swans $2.25 Saints $1.60
Sportingbet: Swans $2.30 Saints $1.63
The Swans were dreadful in being thumped by Richmond last weekend and face the prospect of missing the finals altogether if they can’t find a way to win against St Kilda. Too often, too much is left to Adam Goodes. His St Kilda counterpart Nick Riewoldt is having a rare so-so season, but Nick Dal Santo has never looked better. St Kilda are also getting good returns from former Swans premiership players Adam Schneider and Sean Dempster.
Key: The ruck duel between Sydney’s Shane Mumford and much improved Saint Ben McEvoy could be pivotal.
Tip: Saints by 8 points
Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs at AAMI Stadium 3.10pm
Head to Head: Power 11 Bulldogs 8
Last clash: Round 16 2010 – Bulldogs 12.11 (83) bt Power 7.5 (47) at TIO Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Power $5.00 Bulldogs $1.15
Sportingbet: Power $5.10 Bulldogs $1.17
All eyes will be Western Bulldogs caretaker coach Paul Williams, who stepped into the top job on an interim basis when Rodney Eade decided it was best he made a clean break. There will also be something of a new look on the park, with Ayce Cordy finally handed his senior debut after three years on the list. Port Adelaide simply must find a way to be competitive after losing their past two games by a combined total of 303 points. The Power have dumped Kane Cornes – who’s rumoured to be on his way out of the club.
Key: Despite the week of coaching turmoil, surely the Dogs can’t find a way to trip up against a Power team at their lowest-ever ebb.
Tip: Bulldogs by 52 points
Melbourne v Richmond at MCG 4.40pm
Head to Head: Demons 79 Tigers 99 drawn 2
Last clash: Round 14 2011 – Demons 17.16 (118) bt Tigers 13.13 (91) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Demons $2.05 Tigers $1.72
Sportingbet: Demons $2.15 Tigers $1.71
It says plenty for how badly Melbourne are travelling that Richmond will start as favourites, even though last weekend’s win over Sydney was their first since mid-June. Alex Rance, Ty Vickery and Robin Nahas are three Tigers who have taken huge strides forward in 2011. But one area where the Demons should hold sway is in the ruck through big improver Stefan Martin and big Mark Jamar.
Key: Leadership. Trent Cotchin looks every inch the Richmond captain-in-waiting as he fills in with aplomb for the injured Chris Newman. In contrast, Melbourne’s Brad Green is struggling to make a mark in his first year as skipper.
Tip: Tigers by 22 points