Preview of AFL Round 16 matches (all times AEST).
FRIDAY, July 12
Collingwood v Adelaide at MCG, 7.50pm
Head to head: Collingwood 24 Adelaide 11 Drawn 0
Last clash: R9, 2012: Collingwood 10.15 (75) bt Adelaide 6.13 (49) at AAMI Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Collingwood $1.16 Adelaide $5.25
Sportingbet: Collingwood $1.18 Adelaide $4.90
The big news at Collingwood is the return of club champion Dayne Beams, who has overcome a persistent quadriceps injury to win senior selection for the first time this season. The seventh-placed Magpies come into Friday’s game in a confident mood after beating Carlton comprehensively last week, while 12th-placed Adelaide suffered a costly loss last round at home to West Coast. The Magpies have dealt with the Harry O’Brien issue all week in the lead-up, but have been able to put aside distraction and disruption all season.
Key: Collingwood’s midfield power is going be tough for Adelaide to match, with the elite skills of Scott Pendlebury complementing the bullocking grunt work of Dane Swan. If Swan’s going to get over 30 disposals per game, does it matter if he sprays a few?
Tip: Collingwood by 21 points
SATURDAY, July 13
Port Adelaide v Hawthorn at AAMI Stadium, 1.45pm
Head to head: Port 15 Hawthorn 11 Drawn 0
Last clash: R20, 2012: Hawthorn 24.15 (159) bt Port 13.9 (87) at Aurora Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Port Adelaide $4.75 Hawthorn $1.19
Sportingbet: Port Adelaide $4.25 Hawthorn $1.22
Hawthorn have sprung a big selection surprise, omitting onballer Brad Sewell after he had an unproductive night in the Hawks’ heavyweight title fight loss to Geelong last weekend. Defender Brent Guerra returns to the Hawks’ line-up. Hawthorn were wayward on goal last weekend and will be looking to sort that out, with Lance Franklin in particular having a good record against Port. Jarryd Roughead is in All-Australian touch, so Port’s defence face a tough day out. Port will have to do without forward Justin Westhoff as they attempt to bounce back from their defeat by Essendon last weekend. They had been in good form prior and remain in the top eight.
Key: How will Hawthorn rebound from their first defeat in three months?
Tip: Hawthorn by 27 points
Geelong v Melbourne at Simonds Stadium, 2.10pm
Head to head: Geelong 124 Melbourne 83 Drawn 2
Last clash: R6, 2012: Geelong 17.17 (119) bt Melbourne 11.10 (76) at Skilled Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Geelong $1.01 Melbourne $17.00
Sportingbet: Geelong $1.01 Melbourne $17.00
Geelong’s extraordinary win over Hawthorn last weekend suggests a team at the top of their game, and they have clearly relaunched big-time after their shock loss to Brisbane two matches ago. Melbourne were competitive against Sydney last weekend and that will be their aim again at a ground filled with bad memories. Dean Bailey’s coaching epitaph was written here two seasons ago after a 186-point flogging. Geelong’s record at the ground is exemplary. No Corey Enright for the Cats, with the veteran defender out with a foot injury. Joel Corey (concussion) and in-form Allen Christensen (hamstring) are also out. But Cats superstar Steve Johnson returns from suspension, along with speedster Travis Varcoe from a long-term shoulder injury.
Key: All depends on how hard the Cats go at a Demons team several rungs below them.
Tip: Geelong by 63 points
Richmond v Gold Coast at Cazalys Stadium, Cairns, 4.40pm
Head to head: Richmond 0 Gold Coast 2 Drawn 0
Last clash: R16, 2012: Gold Coast 13.12 (90) bt Richmond 13.10 (88) at Cazalys Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Richmond $1.22 Gold Coast $4.30
Sportingbet: Richmond $1.24 Gold Coast $4.00
Gold Coast skipper Gary Ablett’s return from a calf injury is just what the Suns need as they aim to keep alive their record against the Tigers. Richmond have never beaten the Suns – Gold Coast winning this clash last season with an unforgettable after-the-siren goal from Karmichael Hunt. The Tigers had that game in the bag before relaxing fatally late on. But despite their big loss to North Melbourne last weekend, they are a far better team in 2013. Ruckman Ivan Maric’s return is huge for the Tigers. But rebounding defender Bachar Houli misses another week – and unfortunately for him – it’s the AFL’s multicultural round for which he is an ambassador.
Key: The midfield. Ablett, the fast-improving Dion Prestia and Jaeger O’Meara taking on Richmond’s Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and hard-as-nails Nathan Foley.
Tip: Richmond by 32 points
Carlton v St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, 7.40pm
Head to head: Carlton 158 St Kilda 51 Drawn 2
Last clash: R7, 2013: St Kilda 11.11 (77) bt Carlton 9.14 (68) at Etihad Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Carlton $1.33 St Kilda $3.35
Sportingbet: Carlton $1.34 St Kilda $3.25
Stephen Milne will be the talking point as he returns, and his record against Carlton is excellent. The Blues fell in a heap against Collingwood last week after Jarrad Waite went off injured. They’ll be without him against this week, though veteran defender Heath Scotland is back for the Blues. Despite their insistence they have improved since last season, Carlton’s 6-8 record suggests otherwise. Milne and Nick Riewoldt bolster St Kilda, who posted one of their three wins this season last time they played the Blues.
Key: Saints’ small forward Milne has booted 50 career goals against Carlton, and 14 in his past five matches against the Blues. You get the feeling he will have impact at some point in his comeback match.
Tip: Carlton by 17 points
Brisbane v North Melbourne at the Gabba, 7.40pm
Head to head: Brisbane 18 North 25 Drawn 1
Last clash: R4, 2013: North Melbourne 18.17 (125) bt Brisbane 9.8 (62) at Etihad Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Brisbane $2.75 North Melbourne $1.45
Sportingbet: Brisbane $2.75 North Melbourne $1.45
North have set themselves the lofty aim of reaching an 8-8 win-loss record by the end of next week. So they must win this to keep their finals tilt – which has new life in it – on track. The Kangaroos’ belting of Richmond last weekend showed what most think – they are much better than their ladder position suggests. Up and going, they can score as heavily as any team in the competition. Predictably they’ve made no changes from the side which poleaxed the Tigers. Like North, Brisbane have won two of their past three. They’re a win behind the Kangaroos and if they don’t pick up four points here, they’re effectively finished as finals contenders.
Key: Lindsay Thomas misses again for North through suspension, so their tall forward line of Drew Petrie, Robbie Tarrant and Aaron Black will carry the load.
Tip: North Melbourne by 21 points
SUNDAY, July 14
Sydney v Greater Western Sydney at SCG, 1.10pm
Head to head: Sydney 3 GWS 0 Drawn 0
Last clash: R1, 2013: Sydney 16.10 (106) bt GWS 11.10 (76) at ANZ Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Sydney $1.01 GWS $17.00
Sportingbet: Sydney $1.01 GWS $17.00
GWS are edging closer towards the wrong kind of history, and are unlikely to get their first win of the season against a Swans side which remains in the top four. The premiers continue to tick along, and have unearthed quality young talent in last week’s four-goal hero Brandon Jack and busy midfielder Tom Mitchell. Selection pressure all around at the Swans is a good thing, and remember they still have absent stars like Adam Goodes to return for the business end of their season.
Key: Kurt Tippett. GWS were desperately keen to attract the former Crow, but Tippett made it clear he wasn’t interested as he found his way to Sydney. Three matches into his Swans career and has kicked goals in all of them. But this looms as his breakout game, and returning Giant Phil Davis faces a huge task against his old teammate.
Tip: Sydney by 45 points
Western Bulldogs v Essendon at Etihad Stadium, 3.20pm
Head to head: Bulldogs 60 Essendon 91 Drawn 2
Last clash: R14, 2012: Essendon 21.14 (140) bt Western Bulldogs 8.8 (56) at Etihad Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Bulldogs $7.00 Essendon $1.10
Sportingbet: Bulldogs $7.50 Essendon $1.09
In a season of challenge, the Bombers face another. Life without inspirational skipper Jobe Watson as he recovers from a broken collarbone starts against the Bulldogs. But Essendon continue to leap the hurdles, stringing together four wins in a row on their way to an 11-3 win-loss record and a top four spot. The Bulldogs just got it done against GWS last weekend, and are clearly a rebuilding side who shouldn’t offer the Dons much trouble. Midfielder Ryan Griffen has been outstanding this year for the Bulldogs, and young defender Michael Talia looks a find who will develop – and he faces a tough test this weekend.
Key: The Bombers’ forwards – led by Tom Bellchambers and his five-goal haul – were excellent last weekend and should provide similar issues for emerging Talia and the Dogs.
Tip: Essendon by 38 points
West Coast v Fremantle at Patersons Stadium, 4.40pm
Head to head: West Coast 21 Fremantle 16 Drawn 0
Last clash: R1, 2013: Fremantle 16.12 (108) bt West Coast 11.14 (80) at Patersons Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: West Coast $2.55 Fremantle $1.52
Sportingbet: West Coast $2.60 Fremantle $1.50
Eagles coach John Worsfold put it best this week, saying Fremantle are now performing at an elite level consistently. Considering they have done so for much of this season without key players, the Dockers now look a scary prospect as they ease Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands back into a team which has done brilliantly in their absence. The ninth-placed Eagles may find themselves under pressure from those below them without victory. The Dockers’ chase for a top four spot will become much harder if they don’t win. Huge stakes for both clubs should ensure a close match. Both teams lose important defenders through injury – West Coast without Beau Waters and the Dockers minus Luke McPharlin.
Key: Can Pavlich build on his important two-goal cameo last weekend?
Tip: Fremantle by 5 points