Preview of AFL Round 2 matches (all times AEST).
SATURDAY, April 7
Essendon v Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium 1.45pm
Head to Head: Bombers 7 Power 14
Last clash: Round 23 2011 – Bombers 17.18 (120) bt Power 17.11 (113) at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Bombers $1.20 Power $4.40 Draw $51.00
Sportingbet: Bombers $1.20 Power $4.50 Draw $51.00
Port Adelaide historically trouble the Bombers, who have won just seven of 21 meetings against the South Australian club. And Port’s first-up victory over St Kilda encouraged coach Matthew Primus for the competitiveness of his players. It’s only round two, but Essendon simply can’t afford to drop matches like this if they’re to challenge the upper reaches of the ladder.
Key: Ageless Essendon backman Dustin Fletcher has shown he still has the skill to single-handedly disrupt opposition forward lines. With Port’s attacking group inexperienced, the Bomber veteran could have another field day.
Tip: Bombers by 33 points
Sydney v Fremantle at SCG 2.10pm
Head to Head: Swans 13 Dockers 11
Last clash: Round 17 2011 – Dockers 15.8 (98) bt Swans 13.9 (87) at SCG
Tab Sportsbet: Swans $1.62 Dockers $2.25 Draw $51.00
Sportingbet: Swans $1.70 Dockers $2.15 Draw $51.00
Fremantle get no respite after their spirited three-point win over premiers Geelong, with a journey to meet the relentless Swans on their beloved SCG. The Dockers will be without suspended pest Hayden Ballantyne. The Dockers will offer Sydney a sterner examination than new chums Greater Western Sydney, with the jury still undecided on the value of their round-one win.
Key: Sydney clearance expert Josh Kennedy could give lessons on how to win contested possessions, and his combination with ruckman Shane Mumford is a force for Fremantle to reckon with.
Tip: Swans by 16 points
West Coast v Melbourne at Subiaco 4.40pm
Head to Head: Eagles 27 Demons 15
Last clash: Round 21 2011 – Eagles 16.14 (110) bt Demons 9.8 (62) at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Eagles $1.05 Demons $9.00 Draw $51.00
Sportingbet: Eagles $1.06 Demons $8.75 Draw $51.00
Can a club reach a tipping point in round two? If yes, Melbourne is the candidate having been roundly criticised for their season-opening loss to Brisbane. Nobody expects the lowly Demons to give coach Mark Neeld a first-up victory over the Eagles at home. But the players must give him some sort of response to a week of public grilling.
Key: It’s Melbourne ruckman Mark Jamar’s turn to confront the most potent ruck duo in the game, Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui. If Jamar can break even, he’ll treat it as a victory.
Tip: Eagles by 39 points
Collingwood v Richmond at MCG 7.40pm
Head to Head: Magpies 113 Tigers 84 drawn 1
Last clash: Round 4 2011 – Magpies 24.17 (161) bt Tigers 13.12 (90) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Magpies $1.15 Tigers $5.25 Draw $51.00
Sportingbet: Magpies $1.13 Tigers $5.75 Draw $51.00
Richmond supporters are already wondering if they have been let down again. After a summer of hope, the Tigers crashed against Carlton with worrying long-time deficiencies still present. The Magpies are far from their best but still took it up to Hawthorn, and have the midfield armoury to overrun the Tigers.
Key: Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt kicked four yet was relatively quiet in the opening round. He must turn it on against Collingwood for the Tigers to have a chance.
Tip: Magpies by 40 points
Adelaide v Western Bulldogs at AAMI Stadium 7.40pm
Head to Head: Crows 15 Bulldogs 20
Last clash: Round 13 2011 – Bulldogs 14.16 (100) bt Crows 10.10 (70) at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Crows $1.20 Bulldogs $4.40 Draw $51.00
Sportingbet: Crows $1.20 Bulldogs $4.50 Draw $51.00
Brenton Sanderson still hasn’t lost as Adelaide coach, with five pre-season wins followed by a clinical 69-point trouncing of Gold Coast. The Crows appear to have the tall attacking weapons in Kurt Tippett to pose problems for the Bulldogs, who struggled to contain West Coast’s key forwards last week. Adelaide midfielder and club champion Scott Thompson plays his 200th AFL game.
Key: Imposing Crow Tippett had seven shots at goal last start but slotted only four. Against an under-sized Dogs’ defence, the Queenslander looms as a trump card.
Tip: Crows by 36 points
SUNDAY, April 8
North Melbourne v Greater Western Sydney Giants at Blundstone Arena 1.10pm
Head to Head: Kangaroos 0 Giants 0
Last clash: N/A
Tab Sportsbet: Kangaroos $1.01 Giants $15.00 Draw $51.00
Sportingbet: Kangaroos $1.01 Giants $16.00 Draw $51.00
Kangaroos coach Brad Scott must be licking his lips at this one, a chance to get North’s season rolling with a big win over the newcomers. The Roos were a straight kick from beating Essendon and are unbackable favourites against the Giants. Just how big a loss will GWS accept? At least there’s no home-ground advantage at the Hobart venue with the Roos never playing there before.
Key: The Giants’ callow defence has another test: trying to control the marking power of Roo Drew Petrie and the star power of Brent Harvey on North’s forward lines.
Tip: Kangaroos by 81 points
St Kilda v Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium 4.40pm
Head to Head: Saints 1 Suns 0
Last clash: Round 19 2011 – Saints 10.14 (74) bt Suns 6.18 (54) at Gold Coast Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Saints $1.03 Suns $11.00 Draw $51.00
Sportingbet: Saints $1.05 Suns $9.50 Draw $51.00
Both round-one losers, expect St Kilda’s midfield to respond to their new coach Scott Watters’ criticism of being poor at the contested ball in their away defeat to Port Adelaide. The Suns showed little had changed when getting trounced by Adelaide – they were still overly reliant on Gary Ablett and Jared Brennan and had a suspect defence.
Key: Ablett had 42 disposals and kicked two goals, yet the Suns still lost to the Crows by 69 points. The Gold Coast captain needs midfield support for the Suns to threaten the Saints.
Tip: Saints by 29 points
MONDAY, April 9
Geelong v Hawthorn at MCG 3.10pm
Head to Head: Cats 80 Hawks 67 drawn 1
Last clash: Finals Week 1 2011 – Cats 14.14 (98) bt Hawks 9.13 (67) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Cats $2.30 Hawks $1.60 Draw $51.00
Sportingbet: Cats $2.52 Hawks $1.52 Draw $51.00
The modern rivals again take centre stage in a heavyweight Easter Monday fight. Can the Hawks finally shake their bogey team? Hawthorn’s chances of confirming their premiership favouritism with a win rocketed when Cats’ defender Matthew Scarlett was suspended. That leaves Harry Taylor solely carrying the responsibility of shutting down Lance Franklin.
Key: While Cyril and Lance get the headlines, Sam Mitchell continues to provide the substance for Hawthorn. Gathered 32 disposals and laid eight tackles last week, and will be a focal point of Geelong plans.
Tip: Hawks by 17 points