The Western Bulldogs are about to be let off their hard quarantine leash but Easton Wood doesn’t plan on stretching his freedoms beyond enjoying a coffee on the beach.
Leading into another big week of footy, I have ranked all nine games in terms of relevance to neutral fans.
Feel free to disagree in the comments but here is each game from on the level of interest for the neutrals. This was really difficult by the way. No game was like, ‘Ugh I have to watch’.
9. Brisbane versus Fremantle
Sunday, 4:40pm, Gabba
A change in location is the reason here. Fremantle were humiliated at home last week against the Eagles but their loss of Luke Ryan is a huge one. Fremantle need to respond after losing the clearances by nine to an Eagles midfield minus Elliot Yeo and Luke Shuey.
Brisbane look like they’re humming and while they were unlucky to have a home game taken away against Collingwood, they get this one back and they’re firing on all cylinders. Jarryd Lyons is in top-ten Brownlow form also but it’s hard to see neutrals jumping on to watch.
8. Hawthorn versus West Coast
Sunday, 1:10pm, MCG
The only storyline out of this game is ‘are the Eagles flat track bullies?’ Even if they win, it won’t matter in public opinion given the Hawks are putting teams in form. And if they lose, there’s bigger fish to fry in the league but they’ll lose respect.
Hawthorn were humiliated in their clash with St Kilda so seeing which of their players have taken that personally is interesting. But not a lot are expecting a Hawks victory and it’s in a time slot where you sit a poxy kind of game.
7. GWS versus Essendon
Saturday, 2:10pm, Giants Stadium
This has intrigue with a question mark more than anything else. But for the Giants, they’re rebuilding on the run and doing magnificently, with Lachie Ash especially down back being brilliant and their midfield is humming, buoyed by the return of Lachie Whitfield.
The Bombers played a beauty on Sunday but fell down in the last quarter against the Blues and they are an inconsistent young side. If the Giants are serious about stealing a top-eight spot, this is a win. No excuses.
6. Gold Coast versus St Kilda
Saturday, 1:45pm, Metricon
The quality of AFL this weekend is high, given this is number six. The Suns have had an elite last fortnight but are getting zero credit for it and during the daytime they look like a really dangerous team.
The Saints realised they were a good team over the weekend and took exception to a young Hawks side. But where they’re actually at is the question and the test. This is the most underrated game of the weekend.
5. Port Adelaide versus Adelaide
Saturday, 7:40pm, Adelaide Oval
This is no disrespect to the Showdown tradition or either of the SA sides but this could get genuinely ugly. The Crows have slipped badly with three losses in a row. They let the Hawks come back from 33 ahead, then the Dockers beat them at home and last week the Giants embarrassed them.
Port should rebound after a poor showing and if the flat-track bully tag is true, this could be a belting. I love the Showdown and everything it stands for but I can’t say it’s an exciting prospect on Saturday night.
4. Western Bulldogs versus Carlton
Sunday, 3:20pm, Marvel
Carlton have a good record against the Dogs recently and whatever the points market is, go above because this has shootout written all over it. Harry McKay should tower over a Dogs back and Sam Walsh versus the Dogs’ magnificent seven is going to be a beauty.
Everyone wants to jump on the Dogs for losing to an undermanned Richmond but this is still a very good team and they should be getting it done. But this could be another 120-110 kind of scoreline.
3. North Melbourne versus Collingwood
Saturday, 4:25pm, Marvel Stadium
If this is a ten-goal win to Collingwood, this is a non-story. But as far as pre-game expectations and discussion goes, North are being talked about for the first time this season so there’s a positive.
However, we all know the fallout if North actually win. But the Pies aren’t going to drop this, are they?
2. Melbourne versus Sydney
Saturday, 7:25pm, MCG
The Dees have to lose a game at some stage. At this stage it seems unlikely. They’re the most watchable team so far and part of that might be disbelief due to everyone expecting the Dees to fall off a cliff as per the norm of the last 15 years.
However, if the Swans can climb off the canvas from 29 points down against Geelong and to be that down statistically and get up, they have to given their dues. If Lance Franklin comes back – reports say he’s a chance – this is box-office AFL at its absolute best.
1. Richmond versus Geelong
Friday, 7:50pm, MCG
This is not relevant but the Showdown should have been on Friday night and this should be on Saturday night. But let’s get to this game.
A lot of media people are tipping Geelong and whatever you think of their form, this isn’t game plan versus game plan. This is the mental test for the Cats to see if they can actually get over the Tigers, so that is must-watch.
Having the Friday night time slot, this will be a corker.