AFL Round 21 preview panel
Preview of AFL Round 21 matches (all times AEST).
FRIDAY, Aug 17
Geelong v St Kilda at Etihad Stadium 7.50pm
Head to Head: Cats 125 Saints 82
Last clash: Round 13 2011 – Cats 15.10 (100) bt Saints 11.6 (72) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Cats $1.38 Saints $3.05
Sportingbet: Cats $1.38 Saints $3.10
The absence of skipper Nick Riewoldt with a knee injury is a major blow for the Saints for this must-win clash. The Cats have been in strong form despite their narrow loss to West Coast in Perth last weekend. They were missing star forward Tom Hawkins for most of that game and he will play on Friday night, with the Cats to also welcome back five players, including James Kelly, Joel Corey and Paul Chapman. St Kilda have struggled against quality key forwards this season, so Hawkins and James Podsiadly will pose a major threat.
Key: With Riewoldt missing, St Kilda need big games from Beau Wilkes and Justin Koschitzke to have much hope.
Tip: Cats by 20 points
SATURDAY, Aug 18
Essendon v Carlton at MCG 1.45pm
Head to Head: Bombers 111 Blues 120 drawn 5
Last clash: Round 4 2012 – Bombers 15.19 (109) bt Blues 11.13 (79) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Bombers $2.15 Blues $1.70
Sportingbet: Bombers $2.15 Blues $1.72
While the Bombers fought hard against Adelaide and North Melbourne in the past two rounds, they have lost five of their past six matches and will need to improve quickly to remain in the top eight. The return of Patrick Ryder, Brent Stanton and David Zaharakis should help. The Blues are one of the clubs lining up to replace Essendon in the eight and, with skipper Chris Judd back from suspension to again give them one of the competition’s classiest midfields, they will like their chances.
Key: Michael Hurley, Stewart Crameri and Ryder will challenge a depleted Carlton defence, but only if the Bombers win enough of the ball.
Tip: Blues by 5 points
Greater Western Sydney v Melbourne at Manuka Oval 2.10pm
Head to Head: Giants 0 Demons 1
Last clash: Round 13 2012 – Demons 20.15 (135) bt Giants 9.3 (57) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Giants $4.90 Demons $1.18
Sportingbet: Giants $4.60 Demons $1.20
With exciting young key forwards Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton and midfielder Dylan Shiel having all been submitted for season-ending surgery this week, the bottom-placed Giants’ focus seems directed more towards next season than the end of this one. It gives the Demons an excellent chance to notch their first interstate win under Mark Neeld. They will take some momentum and confidence into the clash, having kicked eight goals in the last quarter against St Kilda last round, although they were still soundly beaten.
Key: Since Mitch Clark went down injured mid-season, the Demons have struggled to find a consistent goal-kicker, but there should be plenty of chances on offer against GWS.
Tip: Demons by 30 points
Fremantle v Richmond at Subiaco 4.40pm
Head to Head: Dockers 11 Tigers 15
Last clash: Round 11 2012 – Dockers 12.6 (78) bt Tigers 9.12 (66) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Dockers $1.40 Tigers $3.00
Sportingbet: Dockers $1.43 Tigers $2.85
The ninth-placed Dockers are strongly-placed to climb into the top eight this week if they beat the Tigers, so they will have plenty of motivation. They would love to gain some percentage as well, as they are marginally behind the bottom three clubs in the eight on that count. Fremantle have had big wins in their past three games at Patersons Stadium, most recently against West Coast. And they beat the Tigers at the MCG earlier this season, so have every reason for confidence.
Key: Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich was the match-winner with six goals in a low-scoring scrap when the sides last met, so Richmond’s Alex Rance will have a big task to try to restrict him.
Tip: Dockers by 15 points
Collingwood v North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium 7.40pm
Head to Head: Magpies 102 North Melbourne 48 drawn 2
Last clash: Round 16 2011 – Magpies 22.15 (147) bt North Melbourne 3.12 (30) at MCG
Tab Sportsbet: Magpies $1.33 North Melbourne $3.35
Sportingbet: Magpies $1.32 North Melbourne $3.40
Collingwood have won the past four clashes between these two clubs by an average margin of 80 points. And they enter this meeting in form after downing the top-placed Swans in Sydney last round. But the Kangaroos have won eight of their past nine games and are much-improved on the outfit that was thrashed by the Magpies by 117 points last season. The return of Jack Ziebell from suspension will boost the Roos’ midfield, although the loss of Daniel Wells and Leigh Adams through injury will hurt, given Collingwood’s depth and class. One area the Kangaroos might have an edge is in the tall forward department, where Drew Petrie, Robbie Tarrant and Lachie Hansen have formed a damaging combination.
Key: The loss of Wells and Adams might give Collingwood the deciding midfield edge, despite still missing Dane Swan through his club-imposed suspension.
Tip: Magpies by 8 points
Brisbane v Adelaide at Gabba 7.40pm
Head to Head: Lions 16 Crows 17
Last clash: Round 20 2011 – Crows 16.14 (110) bt Lions 16.9 (105) at Gabba
Tab Sportsbet: Lions $4.60 Crows $1.20
Sportingbet: Lions $4.60 Crows $1.20
Adelaide seem assured of a top-two berth and a home final provided complacency doesn’t slip in against lowly opposition in the last three rounds, starting with this clash with the Lions. The Crows impressed in downing Fremantle last round. Youngster Matthew Wright stepped up with a big game to add depth to a strong midfield, while Taylor Walker is firing in attack. The Lions are finishing the season in disappointing fashion, outclassed by Carlton last round for their fifth loss in six games.
Key: With the likes of Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Thompson, Rory Sloane and Wright in the midfield and some dangerous forwards, the Crows have too much class if they are on their game.
Tip: Crows by 50 points
SUNDAY, Aug 19
Port Adelaide v West Coast at AAMI Stadium 1.40pm
Head to Head: Power 15 Eagles 8
Last clash: Round 13 2011 – Eagles 15.20 (110) bt Power 13.10 (88) at Subiaco
Tab Sportsbet: Power $6.00 Eagles $1.13
Sportingbet: Power $6.00 Eagles $1.13
West Coast returned to form last round with their win over the Cats, again inspired by the excellent work of ruckmen Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui. Perhaps given a jolt by the sacking of Matthew Primus, Port Adelaide showed fight in patches in their first game under caretaker coach Garry Hocking against Hawthorn last round. They were particularly good in the first quarter, leading the Hawks at the opening change. But they reverted to type later in the match, conceding 11 goals in the final term so it is unlikely they will pose a serious threat to the Eagles.
Key: With the Eagles’ dominant ruckmen and midfielders Daniel Kerr, Luke Shuey and Matthew Priddis in good touch, the Power’s mental fragility will again be tested.
Tip: Eagles by 65 points
Western Bulldogs v Sydney at Etihad Stadium 3.15pm
Head to Head: Bulldogs 77 Swans 73 drawn 1
Last clash: Round 10 2012 – Swans 20.12 (132) bt Bulldogs 5.10 (40) at SCG
Tab Sportsbet: Bulldogs $10.00 Swans $1.05
Sportingbet: Bulldogs $10.00 Swans $1.05
The Bulldogs’ season continues to head downhill, with their losing streak stretched to eight games with last round’s 70-point defeat against Richmond. Once again, they were competitive at times but, in a familiar pattern, conceded 12 goals in the second half. Throughout their losing streak, they have conceded at least nine second-half goals in each match. If any side has the mental and physical toughness to exploit the Dogs’ capacity to fade, it is the Swans. Sydney sustained their first loss in 10 games against Collingwood last round, but showed typical fight.
Key: The return of forward Sam Reid gives the Swans a welcome boost nearing finals time.
Tip: Swans by 75 points
Hawthorn v Gold Coast at MCG 4.40pm
Head to Head: Hawks 2 Suns 0
Last clash: Round 24 2011 – Hawks 16.10 (106) bt Suns 14.13 (97) at Gold Coast Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Hawks $1.01 Suns $17.00
Sportingbet: Hawks $1.01 Suns $21.00
The Hawks have by far the AFL’s highest percentage, largely thanks to their scoring power and their ability to make most of their wins big ones. Even top-eight sides North Melbourne and Essendon have copped huge hammerings from the Hawks this season. So it would be a surprise if the Suns get anywhere near them. Gold Coast beat Greater Western Sydney last round and need one more win to match last year’s effort. But with games against Carlton and Adelaide to come after this, that seems unlikely.
Key: The return of forwards Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead adds considerably more firepower to an already-potent Hawthorn.
Tip: Hawks by 80 points© AAP 2013
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