The three Sunday games are being played in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart and each game has an element of intrigue attached to it.
How real is the Blues’ resurgence? To roll a potential top-eight side on their home ground while missing your leading playmaker is something to turn opinions around, particularly as it was achieved by outlasting the Dockers. In comparison, this week the Demons would appear to be easy meat. Now only one position on the ladder and four points ahead of the Blues with a worse percentage, will the Demons’ horror season only get worse?
Whilst having no influence on the final eight, the game does highlight a smattering of the elite players. The Melbourne’s selection of Jordan Lewis means he will play his 312th game and join a quartet of champions who retired on that number: Jack Dyer (Richmond), Robert Murphy (Western Bulldogs), Stephen Silvangi (Carlton) and Mark Riccuito (Adelaide) and move to equal 53rd on the AFL all-time top 100 game players list. Kade Simpson will join Brisbane’s Marcus Ashcroft on 318 games.
Having won four of their past five games, and finding themselves only four points outside the top eight, North Melbourne would consider themselves a real chance for some September action.
The Saints, three positions lower on the ladder, are also only four points away from the top eight but – given their poor percentage and lack of depth in their talent pool it would be a very brave man that gave St Kilda any chance of being there at the pointy end of the season. Jack Billings and Shane Savage will both play their 100th games for the Saints, and the in-form Robbie Tarrant will match the number of games played by Phil Krakouer and Leigh Harding for the Kangaroos. Jack Newnes returns for the Saints, who will be missing Dan Hannebury.
Lachie Neale – one of the best pickups by any club in 2019 – will play his 150th AFL game when Brisbane heads to Sydney Showground Stadium to take on Greater Western Sydney in a game that will have important ramifications for the makeup of the final eight.
Although the first 140 games of Neale’s AFL career were played for Fremantle, there is no doubt that the ten games played this year for Brisbane has been one of the reasons that the Lions currently sit fifth on the ladder with a good prospect of moving even higher over the next few weeks.
Their first hurdle, however, is to overcome the talented Greater Western Sydney who – despite recording some impressive wins during the season – have stumbled recently just enough for their finals credentials to again be questioned.
Elite AFL top 100 game players Luke Hodge (Brisbane) and Heath Shaw (Greater Western Sydney) – who are both playing for their second AFL club – will feature in this match.
Hodge currently sits at Number 19 on the AFL top 100 game players, and Shaw will move to equal 89th with Lenny Hayes (St Kilda) and Wayne Campbell (Richmond).