AFL Round 9 preview panel
Preview of AFL Round 9 matches (all times AEST).
FRIDAY, May 25
Western Bulldogs v Geelong at Etihad Stadium 7.50pm
Head to Head: Bulldogs 55 Cats 93 drawn 2
Last clash: Round 11 2011 – Cats 23.10 (148) bt Bulldogs 13.9 (87) at Skilled Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Bulldogs $5.25 Cats $1.16
Sportingbet: Bulldogs $5.25 Cats $1.16
This Cats and Dogs duel comes at a crucial moment in the season for the two teams, who are equal with 4-4 records. The mighty Geelong machine is showing signs of battle fatigue, while the Bulldogs have impressed under new coach Brendan McCartney despite a depleted defence. Overall form and reputation point to Geelong, plus they will welcome back key defender Matthew Scarlett, but it shapes as a hard grind.
Key: ‘Dogs midfielder Ryan Griffen has been outstanding over the past month and demands a strong tag. Taylor Hunt is working hard to fill the giant shoes left by Cameron Ling, acknowledged as one of the modern game’s top defensive midfielders. Griffen will be a big assignment.
Tip: Cats by 20 points
SATURDAY, May 26
Richmond v Hawthorn at MCG 1.45pm
Head to Head: Tigers 82 Hawks 67
Last clash: Round 3 2011 – Hawks 17.13 (115) bt Tigers 6.16 (52) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Tigers $3.55 Hawks $1.30
Sportingbet: Tigers $3.65 Hawks $1.28
There is a lot to like about the Tigers as they steadily develop, but the Hawks have regained their mojo since the round-five shocker against Sydney. Their midfield tore Fremantle apart last weekend and they are rolling along nicely without injured captain Luke Hodge. As the loss to Essendon on Saturday night suggests, Richmond are still half a quarter away from being able to match the best sides.
Key: Dylan Grimes’ absence could not come at a worse time for the Tigers. Jarryd Roughead kicked four goals against the Dockers and Lance Franklin worked hard for little reward. It is only a matter of time before the two Hawthorn key forwards hit top form in the same game.
Tip: Hawks by 24 points
Gold Coast v Port Adelaide at Gold Coast Stadium 2.10pm
Head to Head: Suns 1 Power 0
Last clash: Round 5 2011 – Suns 15.14 (104) bt Power 15.11 (101) at AAMI Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Suns $2.75 Power $1.45
Sportingbet: Suns $2.60 Power $1.50
The Suns have come close to breaking their duck this season, most noticeably in round six against Fremantle, but they face the Power at the wrong time. Port should be reinvigorated after their last-quarter heroics against North Melbourne and might want payback for last year, when they squandered a solid lead to become Gold Coast’s first scalp. Gold Coast have home-ground advantage and this looms as their best chance of a win ahead of the bye.
Key: How the Suns would love to have key defender Nathan Bock available. Port forward Jay Schulz starred last weekend with seven goals and Campbell Brown might have the job on him.
Tip: Power by 30 points
St Kilda v Sydney at Etihad Stadium 4.40pm
Head to Head: Saints 76 Swans 127 drawn 3
Last clash: Finals Week 1 2011 – Swans 12.10 (82) bt Saints 8.9 (57) at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Saints $1.95 Swans $1.85
Sportingbet: Saints $2.00 Swans $1.80
Player milestones are sometimes overrated as motivation for their teams, but this one is big. St Kilda midfielder Lenny Hayes plays his 250th game and the Saints will be determined to mark the occasion with a win. Nevertheless, the Swans look in better shape – just. This is tough to pick.
Key: Saints’ captain Nick Riewoldt and midfielder Nick Dal Santo impressed in Sunday’s loss to West Coast. If they fire, St Kilda look a much better prospect regardless of their injury problems.
Tip: Swans by 10 points
Greater Western Sydney v Essendon at Skoda Stadium 7.40pm
Head to Head: Giants 0 Bombers 0
Last clash: N/A
Tab Sportsbet: Giants $17.00 Bombers $1.01
Sportingbet: Giants $17.00 Bombers $1.01
Giants’ coach Kevin Sheedy can tie down the windsock, lock his old team out of their changeroom or do whatever else his famous left-field thinking cooks up – his team simply lacks the firepower and class to upset Essendon. They might push the Bombers, who will be without Dustin Fletcher, Dyson Heppell and Leroy Jetta, but it will be an almighty upset if they somehow win.
Key: Essendon captain Jobe Watson again starred when his side was under pressure last Saturday night against Richmond. To beat the Bombers, start by dulling Watson’s influence around the stoppages.
Tip: Bombers by 60 points
Adelaide v Collingwood at AAMI Stadium 7.40pm
Head to Head: Crows 11 Magpies 23
Last clash: Round 9 2011 – Magpies 20.15 (135) bt Crows 14.8 (92) at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Crows $1.45 Magpies $2.75
Sportingbet: Crows $1.47 Magpies $2.70
This will be an absorbing duel between two sides who have won their past five matches. The Crows have torn apart Geelong and Carlton, while the ‘Pies reaffirmed their credentials with a hard-fought win over the Cats. Home-ground advantage gives the Crows the edge and the Magpies’ loss of Dane Swan and Ben Reid will also help Adelaide.
Key: Adelaide gave Patrick Dangerfield their revered No.32 guernsey for a very good reason. Like his predecessor Mark Ricciuto, this bloke is a star. Dangerfield has hit a new level this season and poses a major test for the talent-stacked Collingwood midfield.
Tip: Crows by 12 points
SUNDAY, May 27
North Melbourne v Brisbane at Etihad Stadium 1.10pm
Head to Head: North Melbourne 23 Lions 18 drawn 1
Last clash: Round 18 2011 – North Melbourne 17.20 (122) bt Lions 11.11 (77) at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: North Melbourne $1.25 Lions $4.00
Sportingbet: North Melbourne $1.27 Lions $3.75
Weren’t we praising North only a month ago, when they upset Geelong? They have since gone backwards and, if they cannot take care of Brisbane, then their season definitely is shot. On paper, the rebuilding Lions lack the overall talent to do more than push the ‘Roos. But North might be ripe for another big upset.
Key: Key Brisbane forwards Jonathan Brown and Daniel Merrett monstered the Suns’ defence and will pose a double headache for the Kangaroos.
Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points
Carlton v Melbourne at MCG 3.15pm
Head to Head: Blues 114 Demons 88 drawn 2
Last clash: Round 20 2011 – Blues 21.8 (134) bt Demons 7.16 (58) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Blues $1.05 Demons $10.00
Sportingbet: Blues $1.05 Demons $9.50
The hapless, winless Demons are the perfect opponents for Carlton, who badly need a win – any win – after bad losses to St Kilda and Adelaide. The Blues’ midfield also must readjust quickly now that Marc Murphy is out of action for several weeks with a shoulder injury. As for Melbourne, they are back to square one after terrible losses to Hawthorn and Sydney.
Key: Senior Melbourne players such as Brent Moloney and Brad Green have been under plenty of scrutiny. They have already dropped Colin Sylvia and Aaron Davey for this match. If a few experienced Demons can stand up and their side starts well, then maybe the pressure will get to Carlton.
Tip: Blues by 60 points
West Coast v Fremantle at Subiaco 4.40pm
Head to Head: Eagles 20 Dockers 14
Last clash: Round 18 2011 – Eagles 8.17 (65) bt Dockers 9.10 (64) at Subiaco
Tab Sportsbet: Eagles $1.38 Dockers $3.05
Sportingbet: Eagles $1.39 Dockers $2.95
Anyone who saw Fremantle’s appalling first half against Hawthorn last Saturday will wonder how they can match West Coast. They were torn apart in the midfield and lost all semblance of the tight defence that is the hallmark of a side coached by Ross Lyon. The Eagles have big injury problems, but they are 7-1 for a very good reason.
Key: Dockers’ captain Matthew Pavlich had minimal impact against the Hawks and failed to kick a goal. Expect the star utility to be much more damaging for the Dockers in this western derby.
Tip: Eagles by 24 points© AAP 2013
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