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2022 AFL season: Round 11 preview

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Roar Guru
23rd May, 2022
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Week 2 of Sir Doug Nicholls Round is upon us, and after an eventful Round 10 we have another slate of matches to look forward to as we approach the halfway mark of the season.

To kick off proceedings, Richmond return to the scene of the crime when they face the Sydney Swans at the SCG, where in their last visit to the ground they suffered a humiliating loss, which very nearly resulted in coach Damien Hardwick copping the axe.

Fresh off a morale-boosting win over the West Coast Eagles, the GWS Giants head north for a much tougher task against the Brisbane Lions, while the Adelaide Crows will attempt to break an 18-year hoodoo at Kardinia Park.

The Western Bulldogs head west for the first time since last year’s grand final to tackle the West Coast Eagles, while the other Saturday evening match sees AFL action return to the Top End when the Gold Coast Suns host Hawthorn.

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Collingwood and Carlton will renew hostilities on Sunday afternoon, while in the twilight, a trip out of Melbourne might be what Essendon needs as they attempt to turn their fortunes around.

Here is your preview to Round 11.

Sydney Swans versus Richmond
The last time Richmond stepped foot onto the SCG was in the final round of a horror 2016 season, which ultimately ended for them with a 113-point loss at the hands of a very powerful Sydney Swans side who wrapped up the minor premiership in style.

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So insipid were the Tigers that night that the Swans threatened a record win when they led by 136 points in the final quarter before the Tigers saved some face with four late goals, but it was not enough to prevent what was already an embarrassing defeat.

Many thought Damien Hardwick would lose his job in the wake of the Tigers’ fall from grace, but after winning a stay of execution, he restored the club’s powerhouse status, leading them to three flags in four years between 2017 and 2020.

Now the Tigers return to Moore Park for the first time in 300 weeks, looking to prove just how far they’ve come since that horror night in August 2016.

Damien Hardwick

(Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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A best-on-ground effort by Dion Prestia saw him claim the Yiooken Medal as Hardwick’s side heaped more misery on the beleaguered Bombers, but now they face a much tougher test: the Swans at the SCG on Friday night.

John Longmire’s team have hit a form slump in recent weeks, dropping three of their past four matches and also losing Josh Kennedy to the first on-field suspension of his career as well as a long-term hamstring injury, which could bring his retirement forward.

While they lost to Carlton by only 15 points, the Swans coughed up nine goals in the second quarter – the equal most they’ve conceded in any quarter since Round 1, 2006, when Essendon slammed nine goals on them (six of them via Matthew Lloyd) in the first quarter.

The fact that they won the other three quarters was of little comfort to Longmire, who will surely want to address their defensive lapses at training this week, and with the league’s second-most potent attack coming to town, it won’t be an easy task.

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Despite the club’s recent struggles, another capacity crowd is expected at the SCG, especially with the only NRL match being played in town that evening taking place at the foot of the mountains.

Both sides have identical percentages, but it’s the Swans who sit slightly higher in seventh place on the ladder by virtue of their better defence.

On the road, the Tigers should make it five straight wins as they look to prove they are anything but a spent force.

Prediction: Richmond by 17 points.

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Brisbane Lions versus GWS Giants
After a narrow loss to Hawthorn in Launceston last Sunday, the Brisbane Lions will start warm favourites to hit back when they welcome a rejuvenated GWS Giants side to the Gabba this Saturday afternoon.

It was their second loss of the season by ten points or less but they were far from disgraced as they engaged in a high-scoring shootout with the Hawks, further demonstrating their attacking prowess.

They did, however, concede their highest score of the season, so this will be something Chris Fagan would need to address to his troops during the week.

Joe Daniher celebrates a goal.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the Giants head north off the back of a much-needed win over the West Coast Eagles in which they rediscovered their attacking flair, with Stephen Coniglio and Toby Greene among their best in a regulation win over the bottom-placed westerners.

It marked a winning start for caretaker coach Mark McVeigh, who enlisted the help of two of his former Essendon teammates James Hird and Dean Solomon to assist him in the role for the remainder of the season.

As impressive as the Giants were on Sunday, they’ll face a much tougher test of their credentials when they face the Lions, to whom they lost by 64 points in the corresponding clash last year.

On that note, the Lions should hit back hard.

Prediction: Brisbane Lions by 30 points.

Geelong Cats versus Adelaide Crows
Having recently maintained long-standing winning hoodoos against the Brisbane Lions and Port Adelaide at home, the Geelong Cats will be out to protect another when they welcome the Adelaide Crows to Kardinia Park.

A torpedo from Jeremy Cameron on the three-quarter-time siren proved a huge highlight as the Cats got the better of Port Adelaide by 35 points to move up to sixth place with a 6-4 record.

The fact of the matter remains that they have not won consecutive matches since Rounds 3 and 4 but they will get the chance to do that against an Adelaide side whose season is threatening to turn ugly.

Having held a 3-3 record after six rounds, Matthew Nicks’ side have lost their past four matches to drop to 15th place on the ladder. Their cause has not been helped by the season-ending knee injury to captain Rory Sloane in Round 5.

Rory Sloane

(Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

In consecutive home games they were competitive against the Brisbane Lions and St Kilda, but fell away in the final quarter in both matches.

Now they are faced with a major hoodoo, having not won at Kardinia Park since 2003, but this will be their first clash at the ground since mid-2019.

The Crows also go in with the knowledge that they did win their previous clash with the Cats with a two-goal boil-over victory at the Adelaide Oval in Round 1 last year.

However, at home, the Cats should make it back-to-back wins for just the second time this year.

Prediction: Geelong Cats by 25 points.

Narrm versus Fremantle
Seventeen straight wins is soon to become 18 straight wins for Narrm when they face Fremantle at the MCG on Saturday night.

The Demons have proven unbeatable this season, winning their first ten matches to go with the seven they won to finish last year, to currently be riding a 17-match winning streak with no end in sight.

Even with a name change they were still able to beat North Melbourne by 47 points at Marvel Stadium last Saturday night, putting to bed a winless hoodoo against them at the venue that spanned eight matches.

They had led by only six points deep in the third quarter as the Kangaroos threatened a boil-over, only for the home side to endure a goalless final quarter as the Dees ran away with the expected victory.

Next on their hit list are the Dockers. After winning six in a row, including defeating the Geelong Cats at Kardinia Park, Fremantle have crashed to a pair of disappointing defeats in the past fortnight.

Travis Colyer of the Dockers handballs past Geelong's Tom Stewart.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

After managing only four goals in a 36-point loss against the Gold Coast Suns, the Dockers drowned in the wet against the Pies at home, losing by the same margin. Despite this, they still remain in the top four with a healthy percentage.

Coach Justin Longmuir will want to address his side’s attack after not only going goalless in the second quarter for two consecutive weeks but also being kept to a score of less than 50 as well.

The fact that this is one versus four means that if you stopped the season right now, this would be the qualifying final. For the record, Freo won their only ever finals meeting, a semi-final clash at the since-demolished Domain Stadium in 2006.

While the Dockers would love to bounce back, Narrm should make it 18 wins in a row, before they revert back to their old name Melbourne next week.

Prediction: Narrm by 36 points.

West Coast Eagles versus Western Bulldogs
Things will not get any easier for the West Coast Eagles who must prepare to welcome the Western Bulldogs to Optus Stadium on Saturday night.

While Adam Simpson’s men copped a predictably heavy defeat at the hands of the GWS Giants, they were at least able to take the fight up to the Sydneysiders, booting 13 goals to record their highest score for a while.

It was the smallest defeat in their current six-game losing streak, which is likely to extend to seven with the Bulldogs breathing life back into their campaign with a hard-fought 19-point win over the Gold Coast Suns in Ballarat.

The Dogs had only led by seven points going into the final minute, before two late goals to Robbie McComb and Bailey Smith saved them from what would’ve been a demoralising defeat.

It marked a fitting result for Adam Treloar, who brought up his 200th AFL game last weekend. The win helped the club move up to ninth on the ladder as we approach the halfway mark of the season.

Adam Treloar of the Bulldogs celebrates

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

They now head over to Optus Stadium for the first time since last year’s grand final loss to Melbourne, where they’ll be hoping to make it three wins in a row and put their season back in the black.

The corresponding clash last year saw the Bulldogs win by 55 points, after fans were banned from attending the match on the morning of the match following the detection of a local COVID-19 case in the WA community.

In the west, the Bulldogs should show no mercy.

Prediction: Western Bulldogs by 40 points.

Gold Coast Suns versus Hawthorn
After COVID-19 forced their planned Darwin clash to be moved to Sydney at the 11th hour last year, the Gold Coast Suns and Hawthorn will finally meet in the Top End this Saturday night, with this being the first of two consecutive matches in the NT for the Suns.

Following on from consecutive wins against finals aspirants the Sydney Swans and Fremantle, Stuart Dew’s side threatened another upset when they closed to within seven points of the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat, before coughing up two late goals at the death to lose by 19.

Despite the defeat, which leaves them in 12th place with a 4-6 record, many are talking up the side as a potential finals dark horse, which is a huge call given they have not finished any season higher than 12th, nor have they won more than ten matches in a single season.

They will, however, fancy their chances of continuing to climb up the ladder in at least their next three matches, starting with this Saturday night’s game against the Hawks followed by further assignments with North Melbourne and the Adelaide Crows on either side of the bye.

Matt Rowell of the Suns is tackled by Luke Parker of the Swans.

(Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

This is not to say that the Hawks are not a chance against the Suns. In fact, Sam Mitchell’s side go in on the back of a major upset win against the Brisbane Lions in Launceston last Sunday afternoon.

In a high-scoring thriller that produced 35 goals, the Hawks held their nerve to record their fourth win of the season, ending a four-game losing streak in the process, and proving that the future is indeed bright at Waverley.

Liam Shiels managed to put the clamps on Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale, something most other taggers had struggled to do over the balance of the season.

Their win over the Lions will mean nothing if they cannot back it up against the Suns, and with the sides sitting in 12th and 13th place on the ladder, whoever wins might go a long way towards remaining within striking distance of September.

Prediction: Gold Coast Suns by six points.

St Kilda versus North Melbourne
Off the back of impressive victories over the Geelong Cats and Adelaide Crows, St Kilda will look to maintain their place in the eight when they host North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

The Saints have been one of the most improved teams in the competition, but could be much higher on the ladder if not for a shocking second half against Port Adelaide in Cairns in Round 7.

Last week against the Adelaide Crows at the Adelaide Oval, the Saints came from nine points down at three-quarter-time to win by 21 points. The highlight was a six-goal haul by forward Max King, who booted two of them in the pivotal final quarter.

Ahead of them looms another winnable match against North Melbourne, who pushed Narrm for three quarters before going down by 47 points at Marvel Stadium last Saturday night.

Clayton Oliver of the Demons and Jy Simpkin of the Kangaroos look on.

(Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

At one point in the third quarter, the margin was only six points, but just how far the Kangaroos have to go if they want to get to where Narrm are now was exposed in the final quarter as they failed to kick a goal, while coughing up four.

Still, the 47-point margin was their lowest for quite a while, having suffered some heavy defeats in recent weeks. There was also the recent controversy surrounding David Noble’s conduct in the wake of their horror loss to the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba in Round 3.

Try as they may, but the Saints should prove too strong here.

Prediction: St Kilda by 24 points.

Collingwood versus Carlton
The game’s most historic rivalry goes up a notch with third-placed Carlton looking to keep their bitter rivals Collingwood outside of the eight when they clash in front of what’s expected to be a packed MCG.

Under reborn coach Michael Voss, the Blues have emerged as serious finals contenders, having won eight of their first ten matches to record their best start to a season since 1996.

A nine-goal second quarter saw them defeat the Sydney Swans by 15 points last Friday night. The highlight was a six-goal haul by Charlie Curnow, who continues to step up in the absence of reigning Coleman Medallist Harry McKay.

But as impressive as they have been, their final quarters need addressing as they very nearly threw away victory against the Swans, who had their chances but failed to convert when it mattered.

Next on their hit list are tenth-placed Collingwood, who return home after an impressive six-goal win over Fremantle in undoubtedly testing conditions at Optus Stadium in Perth.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Jeremy Howe continued to do Jeremy Howe things, taking a screamer in the third quarter, while Oliver Henry booted four majors after entering the game in the second quarter when Mason Cox suffered a game-ending finger injury.

More impressively, the Pies’ defence held the Dockers to only six goals, while booting 12 of their own, showing that life under Craig McRae isn’t that difficult at all.

Sunday’s clash at the ‘G therefore looms as a genuine blockbuster and both sides will have their incentives to win: the Pies to cause an upset against the old enemy, and the Blues to protect their place in the eight.

Prediction: Carlton by ten points.

Port Adelaide versus Essendon
Port’s recent resurgence came to an end last Saturday when they lost to the Geelong Cats at Kardinia Park, but they should start favourites to continue getting their season back on track when they face the out-of-sorts Essendon at the Adelaide Oval in the final match of the round.

In their first match at Kardinia Park since 2017, Ken Hinkley’s side stuck with the Cats for the first half, before capitulating after half-time to crash to their sixth loss of the season by 35 points.

But by no means is their season over, and they’ll get the chance to move to a 5-6 record when they face a Bombers side that is set for more criticism after their Dreamtime loss to Richmond at the ‘G last Saturday night.

Andrew McGrath and his Bombers teammates look dejected after losing to the Western Bulldogs.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Ben Rutten’s side faced a week of severe scrutiny after their insipid loss to the Sydney Swans at the SCG the previous week, in which they laid only 30 tackles – their fewest in a match since mid-2005. To put that into context, the Swans laid more than triple that figure in their 2012 grand final win.

They had 20 by quarter-time against the Tigers, but despite Darcy Parish’s heroics, it was not enough to prevent a 12th straight loss against their sash rivals dating back to mid-2014.

Perhaps another road trip to Adelaide might be just what they need if they are to revive their season, but at 2-8, they might want to start turning their focus towards next year as Ben Rutten looks to continue building his side at the draft.

Back at home, and in better form, the Power should all but grind the Bombers’ season to a shuddering halt with a win.

Prediction: Port Adelaide by 32 points.

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