2017 AFL season: Round 9 preview

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By mastermind5991, mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

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    Roughly a third of the season has now passed and while the ladder is starting to take shape, the decline of heavyweight clubs Sydney and Hawthorn may have been exaggerated – for now.

    After eight weeks away from home, Geelong return to their renovated base, with a blockbuster Friday night game against the premiers, and the Cats will be keen to bounce back after three straight losses.

    There may not be any respite for another team that has lost three straight matches in Richmond, who tackle the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium on Saturday night.

    And the West Coast Eagles will be keen to make amends for their previous trip to Melbourne when they face Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

    Here is the full preview of Round 9.

    Geelong Cats versus Western Bulldogs
    After starting the season with five straight wins, the Cats lost unexpectedly to Collingwood, the Gold Coast and Essendon.

    Coach Chris Scott has questioned his side’s effort against the Bombers, in which they laid only 40 tackles, including just 13 in the first half.

    But while they came from 40 points down at the final change to nearly steal victory from the red and black, it was evident that the Cats had not come out to play.

    The Bulldogs are also at 5-3, with the absence of key players possibly why they haven’t been playing their best football.

    The injury-plagued premiers were kept on the back foot for the most part in their eight-point loss to the West Coast Eagles in Perth, but to their credit were able to keep the hosts honest right up until the final minutes.

    If they are to defeat the Cats, they’ll have to break two hoodoos: they have not won at Kardinia Park since 2003, the year they last won the wooden spoon, and have not beaten the Cats anywhere since Round 21, 2009.

    But the comforts of home should get the Cats over the line.

    Prediction: Geelong Cats by 16 points.

    St Kilda versus Sydney Swans
    Beware – the Swans are back.

    After six straight losses to open the season, Sydney have won their last two matches to get their campaign up and running.

    This has coincided with the return of former co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, who missed the opening six weeks with a hamstring injury and whose absence was severely felt during the Swans’ worst losing streak in 24 years.

    They overcame a slow start to defeat North Melbourne by 42 points at Etihad Stadium – making their 11th win from their last 12 matches at the venue, with the only loss coming against the Western Bulldogs in Round 2.

    This Saturday afternoon they are back at Docklands for the second week in a row, this time taking on a St Kilda outfit that has vastly improved in recent years.

    After losing their first two matches of the season, the Saints have won five of their last six matches, the best of them being huge wins over Hawthorn and the Giants in Rounds 6 and 7 respectively.

    But as impressive as they have been over the past month, and despite the Swans’ lowly ladder position, Alan Richardson’s men still face a monumental task in what is their third straight home game.

    The Saints have not beaten the Swans since mid-2012 and have lost their last six matches against them by an average of 57 points, with the last three, under Richardson, by an average of 79.3.

    But you get the feeling that the tide might finally turn here.

    Prediction: St Kilda by 18 points.

    Jade Gresham St Kilda Saints AFL 2017 tall

    AAP Image/Julian Smith

    GWS Giants versus Richmond
    Another win for GWS has come at a huge cost, with their vice-captain Stephen Coniglio set to be sidelined for an extended period, after he suffered a recurrence of the ankle injury which kept him out of the first six rounds of the season.

    Coniglio’s injury and subsequent departure from the game with seven minutes to go against Collingwood was supposed to cost them victory, but someone forgot to tell Steve Johnson, who pulled off the match-winning goal with less than a minute remaining to give the AFL’s youngest side their first ever win over the Pies.

    The result kept the Giants in second place on the ladder, with only the Adelaide Crows above them on the ladder, by seven percentage points.

    This Saturday night they welcome Richmond to Spotless Stadium for the first time since 2014, when a 113-point thrashing by the Tigers provided the turning point in the club’s recent history.

    In that match, Jack Riewoldt outscored the entire Giants side, with 11 goals of his own – a career-best for the Tigers spearhead.

    However, the Giants have vastly improved since then and in their last meeting kept the Tigers to the 2016 season’s lowest score, conceding a miserly 3.5 (23).

    Leon Cameron’s men will again start favourites, with the Tigers coming off three straight defeats, the latest being a heartbreaking two-point loss to Fremantle after the siren.

    Richmond started the season 5-0 for the first time in 22 years, but after their latest form slump, questions will start to be asked whether they are really finals contenders.

    As much as the Tigers would love to bounce back, the Giants will offer no mercy.

    Prediction: GWS Giants by 20 points.

    Rhys Palmer GWS Giants Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL 2015

    AAP Image/Joe Castro

    Brisbane Lions versus Adelaide Crows
    A major mismatch looms when the last-placed Brisbane Lions welcome the first-placed Adelaide Crows to the Gabba.

    After starting the season with six straight wins, crushing opposition teams at will, many were talking up the Crows’ chances of ending their long, frustrating premiership drought. But Don Pyke’s men have come crashing back down to earth, suffering disappointing losses to North Melbourne and Melbourne in the past fortnight.

    Against the Roos, they were ‘out-Adelaide’d’ – conceding ten goals in the opening quarter while failing to score themselves, setting the tone for a dirty afternoon in Hobart, where they ended up losing by 59 points.

    Then, against the Dees last week, they led by 28 points in the second quarter only to suffer a meltdown in the second half to lose by 41 points in what was former teammate Bernie Vince’s 200th AFL game.

    This Saturday night they fly to southeast Queensland for the second time this season to face Brisbane, who currently prop up the ladder with just one win, that coming in Round 1 against the Gold Coast Suns.

    The Lions have spent the past fortnight on the road and were no match for fallen heavyweights the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn, their cause not being helped by a six-day break between those two matches.

    Nor does their recent record against the Crows make for happy reading, with the Lions having lost their last five against the men from West Lakes. This includes the last meeting by 138 points at Adelaide Oval, in Round 20 last year, which proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as Justin Leppitsch’s tenure as coach was concerned.

    On that basis, it’s hard to see the Lions breaking their losing streak in front of their home fans.

    Prediction: Adelaide Crows by 40 points.

    Collingwood versus Hawthorn
    The Pies’ season of disappointment took another negative turn when they went down to the Giants by three points at Spotless Stadium last Saturday night.

    They had no right to lose that match, having dominated for the most part and only losing grip when they conceded a goal in the final 45 seconds.

    Their latest defeat places coach Nathan Buckley under more pressure to retain his job.

    Fears of the Hawks’ demise may have been exaggerated, with Alastair Clarkson’s men having won three of their last four matches.

    The Hawks have won their last nine matches against the Pies, dating back to early 2012, but were pushed to the limit in their last meeting, in Round 12 last year, prevailing by one point after Jack Fitzpatrick kicked a crucial goal in the final minutes of the match.

    But they will be without Cyril Rioli for an extended period after he suffered a serious knee injury in the win over the Lions.

    Still, the Hawks will start favourites to continue their resurgence.

    Prediction: Hawthorn by 16 points.

    Jaeger OMeara Hawthorn Hawks AFL 2017 tall

    AAP Image/Julian Smith

    Essendon versus West Coast Eagles
    What is it about the West Coast Eagles and planes?

    So far this season, Adam Simpson’s men have crossed the Nullarbor four times, only taking home the points on two occasions (in Rounds 1 and 7, against North Melbourne and Port Adelaide respectively).

    This Sunday, they venture to Melbourne for the fifth time this season, to face Essendon at Etihad Stadium, which to the players has become their preference for games in the AFL capital. They tend to play better at Docklands than at the MCG, the scene of their two defeats this season – and of course their embarrassing grand final loss to Hawthorn in 2015.

    They face an Essendon side fresh off upsetting the Geelong Cats in the country game, and if that is anything to go by, the Eagles will have their work cut out attempting to bank their seventh win of the season.

    Though they did beat the Western Bulldogs at home last Friday night, they kicked just one goal in the second half, while nine behinds prevented them from an even bigger win.

    Their recent record against the Bombers in Melbourne does not make for good reading either, with only one win in the past four matches there, that coming in 2013.

    They have, however, won the last two meetings by sizeable margins. The question is, can the Eagles fix their woes on the road?

    Prediction: Essendon by 10 points.

    Melbourne versus North Melbourne
    This will be a testing week for Melbourne, following the news that young forward Jesse Hogan has testicular cancer, for which he has undergone surgery. That explains his absence from the club’s 41-point win over the Adelaide Crows at the Oval.

    The fact that they had to come from 28 points down in the second quarter to notch their third win from six attempts at the Oval is somewhat impressive, given the manner in which the Crows dominated teams earlier this year.

    Like the Dees, the Roos also enjoyed a recent win over the Crows, in Round 7, kicking ten goals to nothing in the first quarter, but last week were brought back to earth against the Swans.

    Despite entering the match against Sydney at Etihad Stadium as slight favourites, and briefly taking the lead in the first quarter, Brad Scott’s men were no match for last year’s grand finalists, losing by 42 points.

    This has left their season record at 2-6 and although they have dominated Melbourne for nearly a decade, they will enter their first (and only) match at the MCG for the season as underdogs.

    While the Dees are heavily favoured, the question remains, which side will turn up at the MCG? And can they lift following the news surrounding Jesse Hogan?

    Prediction: Melbourne by 18 points.

    Michael Hibberd Melbourne Demons AFL 2017 tall

    AAP Image/Julian Smith

    Fremantle versus Carlton
    To finish off the round, Fremantle welcome Carlton to Domain Stadium.

    Many pundits had forecast another long season for the Dockers after they suffered a humiliating 89-point loss to Port Adelaide at the Oval in Round 2. But since then they have turned their fortunes around, winning five of their last six matches to be sitting just outside the eight on percentage.

    Last week they pulled off a great escape when they scored a two-point win over Richmond at the MCG, with former captain David Mundy kicking the match-winning goal after the final siren.

    This saw the Dockers finish with a 2-0 record at the home of football for 2017, with no more matches scheduled for the club there for the rest of the year.

    Back at home, Ross Lyon’s men will start hot favourites against Carlton, who are 3-5 for the season, with two of their three wins coming against their two biggest rivals in Essendon (Round 3) and Collingwood (Round 7).

    That aside, another long season had been forecast for the Blues, but they have been punching well above their weight, with Caleb Marchbank and Sam Petrevski-Seton both being nominated for the Rising Star award in recent weeks.

    They played fairly well against St Kilda last Saturday, but eventually went down by 19 points.

    And they’ll have good memories of their last trip to Perth, which ended in a four-point win. It was Brendon Bolton’s first win as Blues coach, and effectively killed off the Dockers’ 2016 season.

    This will mark the fourth consecutive year in which Fremantle has hosted the only meeting between the two clubs for the season.

    Prediction: Fremantle by 24 points.

    Both the Gold Coast Suns and Port Adelaide have the bye this weekend, following their clash in Shanghai.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • Roar Guru

      May 17th 2017 @ 9:25am
      mastermind5991 said | May 17th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      CORRECTION: “they venture to Melbourne for the fifth time this season”

      Supposed to be fourth not fifth.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 17th 2017 @ 10:16am
      Grassy_Grounds said | May 17th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

      Correction for your article that you might want to take into account. The Demon players found out about Jessie’s condition at Melbourne airport on their way to Adelaide, so the emotional up or down from that news will have mainly been included in last Saturday’s game against the Crowd.

    • Roar Guru

      May 17th 2017 @ 1:15pm
      Peppsy said | May 17th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

      I think you might be missing some info about Hawthorn Collingwood, because saying Hawthorn will start favourites when they are currently going at $2.45 is a bit odd.

      Also Hawthorn are missing half of their back 6 now. Going to be a lot closer than 16 points if they can win at all.

      • May 17th 2017 @ 2:06pm
        Dan, Concord, Sydney said | May 17th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        Well said Peppsy. I think at this point with the amount of changes and youngsters likely to be coming in I’d settle for a competitive effort!

        It sux that the game is not being shown on 7 in Sydney! Gotta somewhere with foxtell

      • May 18th 2017 @ 5:10am
        Chris said | May 18th 2017 @ 5:10am | ! Report

        My beloved pies are bereft of any confidence which means they will find another way of losing a close contest in the ten to twenty points margin. Same old story…….

    • May 17th 2017 @ 3:37pm
      Don Freo said | May 17th 2017 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

      “This saw the Dockers finish with…no more matches scheduled there for the rest of the year.”

      Ahem! There is one Grand Final. Probably no other finals because their others with be at Domain as home finals.

      • Roar Guru

        May 17th 2017 @ 6:51pm
        Peppsy said | May 17th 2017 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

        Key word being scheduled

        • May 17th 2017 @ 11:42pm
          Don Freo said | May 17th 2017 @ 11:42pm | ! Report

          Yeah…but I’m not going to miss that opportunity.

          I have been telling you all. If you’re a punter, get on.

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 8:59am
            DingoGray said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

            Yeah but you’ve been saying the same thing for 3 years.

            Some probably think it’s a broken record.

            • May 19th 2017 @ 10:06am
              Don Freo said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

              3 years ago it was only Matt Stevic and 14 points (of which Stevic contributed 42 points) away. Last year…we all know the injury toll. Close to a 3 peat.

              I’ve been on target. It has probably been 4 years.

    • May 18th 2017 @ 5:14am
      Chris said | May 18th 2017 @ 5:14am | ! Report

      As for the old foe, Carlton, I think you may just get a real shellacking of the Blues from Freo. They are building their confidence and playing style better by each game. They need a percentage boost to come back into real finals contention…Watch this space….Massacre on the horizon!

    • Roar Guru

      May 18th 2017 @ 7:24am
      Penster said | May 18th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Love your optimism but no way will the Hawks start favourites this weekend. Hawks are missing around 6 senior players from a team that simply isn’t firing – unless you include an unconvincing win over Melbourne, easybeats Brisbane, and an MCG-averse Eagles outfit who were due for a loss. Collingwood’s near wins look a lot better than Hawthorn’s losses to me. The happiness of Mrs Pendles giving birth to Wayne Carey’s child (said so on the interwebs) will be all this team needs to get the job done and give Nathan Buckley another week’s reprieve. If the Pies do manage to find a way to lose, Nathan will be considered a master at the craft of losing winnable games and Jax Carey-Pendles hailed as the new favourite son at Victoria Park.

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