Saints Defeat Demons in Thriller

MELBOURNE 4.1 8.3 10.6 10.6 (66)
ST KILDA 5.4 8.5 10.9 12.12 (84)

A well trained Melbourne gave a professional St Kilda outfit a mighty scare last night at the MCG. Despite running out as winners by 18 points, the Saints needed a stoic last quarter to keep their lead and their top 4 aspirations alive.

After yet another week of scrutiny, Melbourne arrived at the ‘G on Saturday night looking like a completely different side to the one that had competed for the first four weeks of the competition.

After a competent performance against the Bulldogs, the Dees looked close to finding a balance between skill and intensity as they attacked St Kilda for the first 3 quarters.

James Frawley was a big loss - www.flickr.com/photos/tdm911

The Demons were missing full forward Mitch Clark to a neck strain and lost full back James Frawley to a calf issue earlier in the day. It meant that young Tom McDonald got the daunting job on Nick Riewoldt, while James Sellar had the job of creating a target in the forward line.

The Dees kicked the first two goals, before Riewoldt and Stephen Milne both hit the left hand post from irresponsible snaps where drop punts would have done the job. The Saints rallied anyway, and kicked the next two to spend the end of the first quarter in front.

Leigh Montagna and James Magner had a spat at the beginning of the game, Magner having to leave the ground with blood gushing from a wound under his eye.

Montagna could be in trouble should clearer footage be found, while Brendon Goddard and Jordie McKenzie were involved in a number of blues – the most notable when the latter gave Goddard a shove as he tried to get up, with the star Saint replying by slinging the Demons tagger to the ground.

We await Gary Ablett’s ‘oh so valuable opinion’ on McKenzie’s game, which is sure to arrive soon.

Both sides fought hard in the second quarter. Former West Coast defender Beau Wilkes starred on debut for the Saints, scoring three goals and clunking a spectacular mark over Jared Rivers before being inexplicably substituted in the third term.

Lynden Dunn was also substituted after 50 metre roost to keep the Dees in the game, but his impact was lacking through the rest of the game.

The Saints were up by two points at half time, and three by the last break – but the momentum was all the Demons way.

When Mark Jamar palmed down the first bounce of the term to Brent Moloney, the former Geelong midfielder ignored his teammates in the forward-line to baulk around a few defenders. Caught holding the ball, the Saints managed to hold their lead and the momentum for the rest of the game.

Lenny Hayes gave them two-goal lead late with a composed goal, before Nick Riewoldt – who was held by six-game defender Tom McDonald all match – scored his second to put the game beyond doubt.

In the end, the Saints were just too good for a Melbourne side that is improving week by week under Mark Neeld. The Saints play Hawthorn next week, watch out for a cracker…while Melbourne face their theatre of doom: Simonds Stadium against the Cats up next.

VOTES:
3. Nick Dal Santo was just too classy for the Dees young midfield, looking clean where others didn’t in the wet weather.

2. Jordie McKenzie kept champion utility Brendan Goddard to a modest 15 possessions with an efficiency rate of under 50% – showed no fear in the contest or off the ball.

1. Nathan Jones continued his fine start to 2012, accumulating 27 touches and two goals.

GOALS:
Melbourne: Jones 2, Bail 2, Moloney, Bate, Watts, Davey, Dunn, Bartram,
St Kilda: Wilkes 3, Milne 2, Steven 2, Riewoldt 2, Stanley, Montagna, Hayes

BEST:
Melbourne: Jamar, Jones, Rivers, McKenzie, McDonald, Grimes, Magner
St Kilda: Hayes, Fisher, Dal Santo, Milera, Wilkes, Armitage

INJURIES:
Melbourne: Frawley (calf) replaced in selected side by Tapscott
St Kilda: Nil

SUBSTITUTES:
Melbourne: Lynden Dunn replaced by Colin Sylvia in the third quarter
St Kilda: Beau Wilkes replaced by Dean Polo in the third quarter

Fighting Tigers Fall Short

Richmond 4.2 9.4 12.9 14.13 (97)
West Coast 
5.3 11.6 3.13 16.11 (107)

West Coast have clinched an emphatic 10-point victory in a high-intensity contest over Richmond at Etihad Stadium.

The Eagles led for the majority of the match until a tense final quarter saw the Tigers snatch the lead in a shootout, but the extra experience and class from West Coast allowed them to get over the line.

Dean Cox in action - http://www.flickr.com/photos/roger-the-sheep/

The game was intense, with players throwing themselves at the footy, causing accidents, knocks and sparking the odd tussle between players, with Scott Selwood, Daniel Jackson, Ashton Hams and Jack Riewoldt all copping knocks behind play.

The desperation from the Tigers to come away with the victory was obvious and they got out to a good start, with Dustin Martin kicking two goals amongst ten first-quarter possessions, but with the help of Jack Darling who also kicked two of his own, it was West Coast who led at quarter time.

Richmond kicked three in a row including a long bomb from Trent Cotchin to level the scores but some brilliant ruckwork from Nic Naitanui and the contested brilliance of Matt Priddis helped the Eagles out to a game-high lead of 26 points.

Priddis and fellow on-baller Daniel Kerr were dominant in the midfield – Priddis recorded 24 disposals (fourteen contested), eight tackles and nine clearances, while Kerr’s second, third and fourth efforts were the icing on a 28-disposal (17 contested), eight-clearance game.

Despite that, the Tigers fought back with the last two goals of the second quarter and the first two of the third to again level the scores, where the game slowed down and became much more contested.

Cotchin stepped right up on his way to 29 disposals (fourteen contested) and six inside 50s especially with the brief absence of Brett Deledio, who sent a shiver through the Richmond camp in a nasty-looking clash with teammate Shane Tuck.

He struggled to put any weight on his right knee and was taken off the ground in the arms of the trainers but later returned to stamp himself on the game through the last quarter with 26 disposals and eight inside 50s. Nathan Foley also made his mark with 27 disposals (16 contested), seven tackles and seven clearances up against West Coast’s on-song inside midfielders.

Richmond’s midfield fought back with enough strength to take the lead in the last quarter but Josh Hill and then Jack Darling, the top goalkickers for the Eagles with three and four respectively, slotted goals to extend the Eagles’ lead and seal off the game.

Brad Miller topped the goalkicking for the Tigers with three while out-of-form Jack Riewoldt kicked two.

Votes
3 – Daniel Kerr (WC)
2 –
Trent Cotchin (Rich)
1 –
Matt Priddis (WC)

Goals

Richmond: Miller 3, Jackson 2, Martin 2, Riewoldt 2, Vickery 2, Maric, Cotchin, Ellis
West Coast:
Darling 4, Hill 3, Hams 2, Lynch 2, Masten 2, Cox, Kennedy, S.Selwood

Best
Richmond: Cotchin, Deledio, Martin, Foley, Maric
West Coast:
Kerr, Priddis, Naitanui, Gaff, S.Selwood

Injuries
Richmond: Brett Deledio (knee), Matt Dea (nose)
West Coast:
Eric Mackenzie (ear, replaced in the selected side by Mitch Brown), Mitch Brown (eye), Josh Kennedy (ankle)

Substitutes
Richmond: Matt White replaced Brandon Ellis in the third quarter
West Coast:
Adam Selwood replaced Mitch Brown (eye) in the first quarter

Umpires: McBurney, Armstrong, Bannister

Official crowd: 28,448 at Etihad Stadium

Swans Deliver the Goodes

Adam Goodes - http://www.flickr.com/photos/60568449@N08/5583823540/

HAWTHORN            5.3     8.6     8.6     10.9   (69)
SYDNEY SWANS          2.2     5.4     9.7     16.10   (106)

The Sydney Swans have completed a commanding win over Hawthorn in Launceston, winning by 37 points.

In what was a record breaking day for Adam Goodes, who became the Swans’ leading games record holder, Sydney finished strongly to claim a well-earned four premiership points.

The Swans started the game positively, dominating the possession stakes. However, Lewis Jetta was denied an incredible goal after he crossed the boundary line before his finish.

Hawthorn were lead by Roughead and Hale, who combined for five opening quarter goals to see the Hawks skip away to a 19-point lead at quarter-time.

Roughead continued his dominance in the second quarter, amassing another two goals to take his tally to five for the day, as the Hawks won a hard-fought quarter by a point to take the margin to 20 points at half-time.

The third quarter saw Sydney start to really dominate. Adam Goodes in his 304th game for Sydney, booted two goals as the Swans snatched the lead back.

Key players Sam Mitchell and Matthew Suckling struggled to get their hands on the ball as the Swans created a 7-point lead at the final change.

Hawthorn came back at the Swans early in the last quarter, even at one point reclaiming the lead.

The Swans proved to be too strong though, kicking away from the Hawks to kick the last 7 goals and claim a 37-point win in Tasmania to take their unbeaten run to 5 games.

Hawthorn will next face St Kilda next Saturday night at the MCG while Sydney will host Adelaide at the SCG.

Votes:

3. J Kennedy

2. A Goodes

1. J Roughead

HAWTHORN            5.3     8.6     8.6     10.9   (69)
SYDNEY SWANS          2.2     5.4     9.7     16.10   (106)

GOALS:
Hawthorn:
Roughead 5, Hale 2, Lewis 2, Rioli
Sydney Swans: Goodes 3, Kennedy 3, O’Keefe 2, Bird 2, Bolton 2, McVeigh, Jack, Jetta, Hannebery.

BEST:
Hawthorn:
Roughead, Burgoyne, Lewis, Guerra, Schoenmakers
Sydney Swans: Kennedy, Richards, Goodes, Bird, Hannebery, O’Keefe

INJURIES
Hawthorn:
Gibson (leg),
Sydney Swans: TBC

SUBSTITUTES
Hawthorn:
Josh Gibson replaced by Paul Puopolo in the third quarter
Sydney Swans: Nick Malceski replaced by Nick Smith in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Stuart Wenn, Robert Findlay

Official crowd: 19, 217 at Aurora Stadium

Power Hopes to Shock Crows

Where and When: AAMI Stadium, 4:40 Sunday April 29

The Power have an upset in mind - http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannebrog/

Showdown 32 is set to provide a great litmus test for the two South Australian sides, Adelaide are 3 and 1 but their wins have not been against tops sides, whereas Port Adelaide’s three losses have been very competitive games against top 8 teams.

Adelaide is coming off a 46-point win over Greater Western Sydney last week. Despite wet conditions and a more competitive GWS, the Crows would be disappointed that they did not put the Giants to the sword.

Port Adelaide will be more content with the loss they suffered last week to Collingwood. Apart from an opening quarter blitz from the Pies, Port was the superior team for the rest of the game; it was only the class of Collingwood that proved the difference.

Adelaide have made multiple changes this week, they gain some experience with the inclusion of Johncock but loose Bernie Vince to a hand injury. Also 19-year-old Jarryd Lyons is set to make his debut.

Port Adelaide’s only change is the loss of Robbie Gray to that horrific knee injury, replacing him Aaron Young who also makes his debut.

What Adelaide Will Want To See

The Crows will want some consistency from their two big forwards. After being lambasted the week before for his inaccurate kicking, Kurt Tippett came out against the Giants and kicked 4 goals 1. However, his partner in crime, Taylor Walker kicked 1 goal 5. If the Crows want to win they will have to make the most out of their opportunities.

Adelaide would like to see one of their small forwards kick a bag. While Callinan has kicked 3 goals twice, if he or one of the other small forwards such as Porplyzia and Petrenko can get away, it takes the focus off the big forwards and almost assures that they will win.

Another player they will be looking at for a big game is Sam Jacobs. The Crows midfield is bigger and more experienced than Port’s and if they can get first hands on the ball courtesy of Jacobs then Port’s midfield will find them almost impossible to stop.

What Port Adelaide Will Want To See

The most important thing Port will want to see this weekend is a win. While they have improved from last year and have so far been constantly competitive, they still only have one win.

They can have as many competitive losses as they want but it all counts for nothing if they end up on the same amount of wins as last year. This showdown is the perfect stage for them to prove their improvement and get another win on the board.

The Power will also want a big effort from their defence; Carlile and Chaplin face the daunting task of containing Tippett and Walker. While you can contain one it is difficult to contain both, they will be looking to their fellow defenders for a chop out in tight situations. If Port can stop these two they are well on their way to winning.

Finally they will be looking for a big performance by their younger players. The showdown is a very tough and heated contest and it is very easy to become overwhelmed. Jacobs, Pfeiffer, Young, Butcher and Hartlett all have never played in a showdown and without finals experience they will have never played in a game that will be as hard as this. If these players can keep their composure they the Power should be able to continue their form.

Final Say

Adelaide is coming off an easier game against GWS and will probably be a little better prepared. However, while the Crows form is good it isn’t great and they are very beatable.

Port Adelaide is desperate for a win and will throw everything at the Crows. The Showdown adds another element and almost always brings the teams closer together.

The teams are a lot closer than on paper and this game is set to be one of the more memorable Showdowns.

Port by 7 points

Teams

ADELAIDE

B: Sam Shaw, Ben Rutten, Graham Johnco;ck

HB: Michael Doughty, Daniel Talia, Brent Reilly

C: David Mackay, Scott Thompson, Brodie Smith

HF: Ian Callinan, Taylor Walker, Matthew Wright

F: Patrick Dangerfield, Kurt Tippett, Jason Porplyzia

Foll: Sam Jacobs, Rory Sloane, Nathan van Berlo

I/C: Jared Petrenko, Shaun McKernan, Matthew Jaensch, Jarryd Lyons

Emg: Andy Otten, Brodie Martin, Ricky Henderson

 

In: Graham Johncock, Jarryd Lyons, Ian Callinan

Out: Bernie Vince, Brodie Martin, Ricky Henderson

New: Jarryd Lyons (Sandringham Dragons)

 

PORT ADELAIDE

B: Jacob Surjan, Alipate Carlile, Jackson Trengove

HB: Paul Stewart, Troy Chaplin, Danyle Pearce

C: Kane Cornes, Domenic Cassisi, John McCarthy

HF: Bradley Ebert, Justin Westhoff, Matthew Broadbent

F: Chad Wingard, Jay Schulz, John Butcher

Foll: Brent Renouf, Travis Boak, Hamish Hartlett

I/C: Daniel Stewart, Ben Jacobs, Aaron Young, Darren Pfeiffer

Emg: David Rodan, Cameron Hitchcock, Simon Phillips

 

In: Aaron Young

Out: Robbie Gray

New: Aaron Young (Eastern Ranges)

Cats Dampen Black’s Night

GEELONG 4.1 7.5  10.6 12.7 (79)

BRISBANE  LIONS 0.5 0.7 1.9 4.17 (41)

Brisbane champion Simon Black would have gone into his 300th game at the Gabba tonight, comfortable in the knowledge that he’d seen and done it all over the course of a spectacular career.  One thing he is unlikely to have seen however, is conditions quite this wet and soggy.

Tom Hawkins dominated - http://www.flickr.com/photos/tdm911/

Sub-tropical, torrential rain hammered down on players and diggers alike as the ANZAC service was observed pre-match, ensuring that the majority of the mid-week strategic planning went out the window.

The conditions were as horrendous and water-logged as almost any modern player would have seen.

When the action began, Geelong showed why they have been considered the best wet weather side for quite some time.

Whilst Daniel Rich found more of the ball than any other in the first quarter, Tom Hawkins was at his devastating best, slotting the opening goal and two more before the first break.

It wasn’t that Brisbane couldn’t win their fair share of possession. Tom Rockliff, Jack Redden and Rich were amongst other talented Brisbane youngsters winning plenty of the ball between the arcs, which resulted in the Lions having similar numbers in the possession and inside 50 columns as their counter parts.

The difference was that the more experienced Geelong outfit consistently made the right decisions at the right times.

The Cats seemed to tap to advantage at the right times, and blaze long at the right times.

They moved the ball on with quick, speculative hands at the right times, and held the ball in for a re-start at the right times.

Even more importantly, they generally managed to have numbers at the contest, as well as one or two men standing 45 metres defensive side of the rolling maul in order to win the contest when Brisbane kicked long.

The other glaring difference was the quality of the inside 50s. Brisbane largely fought and scrambled their way to a position from which they could snap for goal under pressure, and seven behinds was the result at the half. Geelong however, penetrated much deeper with their forward entries, as the majority of their seven first-half goals came from shots taken from within 30 metres.

As the second half progressed, heavy legs set in and scoring became even more difficult on the rain soaked Gabba surface. Paul Chapman was in his element and winning plenty of contested footy, and Geelong continued on their merry way as fatigue set in for many of the Brisbane youngsters.

The effort from the less experienced Lions however cannot be questioned. On a night where many young sides would have lowered their work rate or perhaps even capitulated to the bigger bodied Cats, especially with Taylor Hunt keeping the milestone man Simon Black quiet, Brisbane kept up their attack on the ball and man and won the last quarter.

Votes:

3 – Tom Hawkins

2 – Tom Rockliff

1 – Paul Chapman

GOALS

Geelong: Hawkins 6, Chapman 2, Corey, Selwood, Duncan, Motlop.

Brisbane Lions: McGrath, Brown, Black, Rockliff.

BEST

Geelong: Hawkins, Chapman, Corey, Christensen, Selwood,  Hunt.

Brisbane Lions: Rockliff, Rich, Hudson, Black.

UMPIRES: B Ryan, C Kamolins,  S McInerney.

CROWD: 15,528 at the Gabba.

Hawks to Sink Swans

Where and When: Aurora Stadium, 1:10pm AEST

TV and Radio: Fox Footy (Live)/SEN and ABC774
Odds: Hawthorn $1.33, Sydney $3.45

Hawthorn and Sydney will both receive big boosts to their sides coming into their Sunday clash, with club captains Luke Hodge and Adam Goodes returning to the fray for what is looming as an enticing contest.

The Hawks will be hoping for their 8th straight win in the city of Launceston - http://www.flickr.com/photos/razmataz

Tough Hawthorn midfielder Brad Sewell will also line-up for his 150th game on Sunday, while Adam Goodes will surpass the Sydney club record for games played in his 304th.

Hawthorn have had a rough first month to their season, but have still managed to eke out two wins against quality opposition. Both their losses have come at under a goal, while their wins against Adelaide and Collingwood were far more comfortable.

Sydney have flown under the radar on their way to a 4-0 start to 2012, but face their first big challenge of the year facing the Hawks in Launceston. A win here would cement their status as real challengers this year, while a poor loss would have many AFL supporters asking questions.

Hawthorn have won their last seven at Aurora Stadium and four of their past six against Sydney, including a big win in 2011’s semi-final.

The Hawks welcome back Luke Bruest and Grant Birchall from one-week injuries, while the fiery second-year player Paul Puopolo comes in for his first game of the season.

After losing Gary Rohan for the season with a broken leg, the Swans have brought back Lewis Roberts-Thomson and Nicholas Smith from similarly small lay-offs.

Key Match-ups

David Hale vs Mark Seaby – Both clubs are missing their number one ruckman so this shapes as an important contest. Hale has been dependable at the Hawks but is used more in a forward-role typically. Broc McCauley hasn’t been able to force his way back into the side so Hale will shoulder the majority of the load, but he can most likely get some assistance from Jarryd Roughead.

Shane Mumford is a big loss to a Swans side that typically plays one ruckman, but Mark Seaby was more than serviceable against a strong North Melbourne outfit and should be able to at least make a contest. With Jesse White dropped, he’ll struggle for reliable assistance.

Ryan Schoenmakers/Josh Gibson vs Adam Goodes and Sam Reid – Two seasoned players and two promising young players will battle it out in Sydney’s forward 50 and it’s vital that Schoenmakers provides a proper contest against whoever is playing at centre-half-forward, as Goodes is likely to be moved around the ground.

Gibson has been in fantastic form and will need to keep his top-notch rate of spoiling/marking up to stop someone with a pair of hands like Reid.

Lance Franklin vs Ted Richards – Richards is often an unsung hero but is fairly reliable at making an opponent work for that game.

Eric Mackenzie of the West Coast Eagles was said to have a good game against Franklin but Buddy still managed 7 shots on goal. If he has his kicking boots on this weekend, there might not be much Richards can do to stop him.

Prediction
Hawthorn need to notch up consecutive wins and have turned Aurora Stadium into a mini-fortress. They’ll welcome Luke Hodge back with a win.

Hawthorn by 14

Teams:

Hawthorn
B:
Benjamin Stratton, Josh Gibson, Brent Guerra
HB: Grant Birchall, Ryan Schoenmakers, Matt Suckling
C: Liam Shiels, Sam Mitchell, Shane Savage
HF: Shaun Burgoyne, Lance Franklin, Michael Osborne
F: Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, Luke Breust
Foll: David Hale, Brad Sewell, Jordan Lewis
Inter: Kyle Cheney, Luke Hodge, Paul Puopolo, Bredan Whitecross
Emerg: Broc McCauley, Cameron Bruce, Clinton Young

In: Luke Hodge, Grant Birchall, Paul Puopolo, Luke Bruest
Out: Cameron Bruce, Clinton Young, Jack Gunston, Brad Hill

Sydney Swans
B:
Martin Mattner, Heath Grundy, Alex Johnson
HB: Jarrad McVeigh, Ted Richards, Rhyce Shaw
C: Kieren Jack, Jude Bolton, Lewis Jetta
HF: Nick Malceski, Adam Goodes, Andrejs Everitt
F: Craig Bird, Sam Reid, Ben McGlynn
Foll: Mark Seaby, Josh P. Kennedy, Ryan O’Keefe
Inter: Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Nick Smith
Emerg: Tony Armstrong, Tommy Walsh, Jesse White

In: Adam Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Nick Smith
Out: Gary Rohan (broken leg), Jesse White, Tony Armstrong

BigFooty Team Board Previews:

Hawthorn

Sydney

Follow it live on BigFooty’s Game Day Thread.

Dockers Miss Blues Boat

Carlton         2.1    6.2    9.4     10.5 (65)

Fremantle    1.2    3.9    4.10    7.15 (57)

The fortress of Paterson’s stadium has been successfully besieged by the Blues, who fought off a last minute counter-attack by the Dockers to take home an 8-point victory.

It was a scrappy, low-scoring affair and Fremantle will be devastated at the tight loss, with terrible kicking for goal and allowing Carlton a four-goal blitz on the way to half-time the two biggest factors in the loss.

Paterson's Stadium was taken over by the Blues on Friday night - http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelspencer

Carlton didn’t relent to the pressure that the low scores and hard contested game created, finding avenues to goal and most importantly, taking their chances when they arose.

Kade Simpson, absolutely fantastic for the Blues in the disappointing loss to Essendon, was great again with 35 possessions and a goal in a well-rounded individual performance.

Chris Judd was expertly held by Ryan Crowley, restricted to just 17 disposals, but even with Judd’s little impact and important tagger Andrew Carazzo still out with injury, the Blues were up to the task in the midfield.

Aaron Sandilands was sorely missed for the Dockers. His game-crushing form in the last few weeks couldn’t be replicated by Jonathon Griffin, but he did battle hard with 25 hit-outs and 14 disposals.

Zac Clarke had a night to forget, contributing little in the ruck. His game will mostly be remembered for being a step-ladder for an absolutely spectacular almost-mark by Andrew Walker.

On the flipside, Shaun Hampson continued his strong start to 2012 with 28 hit-outs and a goal, ably assisted by Matthew Kruezer.

The game started on a fairly even keel and the Dockers would have been well and truly in it at half-time if it wasn’t for inaccuracy.

Carlton took chances and slammed on 4.1 to 2.7 for the term. It was only an 11-point buffer for the Blues, but it mattered a whole lot more given how much Freo had controlled the contest in the second.

The game was looking all over in the third, with Carlton piling on another three goals against Fremantle’s 1.1 for the term.

Jack Anthony was the perfect example of Freo’s undisciplined play in the third. He gifted a goal to Jeffrey Garlett before spoiling two opportunities near goal, giving away a free to Nick Duigan and spraying a set-shot out on the full.

Lyon subbed him off almost instantly after his missed shot, but it didn’t help things for Fremantle.

Carlton built a 30-point lead before Fremantle suddenly awoke from their malaise and began throwing everything into attack. Fremantle were suddenly on the war-path, Nat Fyfe, Stephen Hill and Michael Barlow started to control the centre as the Dockers started to close the margin.

In the end it was too little, too late. Fremantle put on 5 behinds along with their 3 goals in their final attack, but Carlton held steady and notched up an important victory for morale in the West after a dissapointing weekend previously.

Fyfe looked to be playing through pain, but still had an impressive night. The jury is out as to whether he will be fully match-fit for next weekend though.

Fremantle have the talent but some severe kicking issues (as well as the behind count, they also allowed 8 of Carlton’s 10 goals to come directly from turnovers) that will hamstring them against the top tier sides.

Votes:
3. Kade Simpson
2. Michael Barlow
1. Ryan Crowley

GOALS:
Carlton: Garlett 2, Walker 2, Robinson 2, Hampson, Waite, Betts, Simpson
Fremantle: Hill, Mayne, Ballantyne, Clarke, Pavlich, Crowley, McPharlin

BEST:
Carlton: Simpson, Gibbs, Hampson, Murphy, Robinson, Scotland
Fremantle: Barlow, Fyfe, Duffield, Mzungu, Crowley, Pearce, Hill

 

Soaring Eagles Hunt Tigers

Where: Etihad Stadium, 3.15pm, Sunday 29th April
TV: Channel 7 & Fox Sports 1 from 3pm
Radio: 3AW. Triple M
Odds: Richmond $3.40, West Coast $1.42, Line Richmond +20.5

Richmond’s rough draw continues with yet another top four contender in West Coast. The Eagles looked somewhat vulnerable in their low-scoring victory over Hawthorn last week, yet still came away with the four points. However, Richmond taking Geelong all the way down at Simonds Stadium makes this clash interesting.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinwhelan/

The Tigers’ ability to shock relies on their midfield. Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin are the two key players here, and Cotchin in particular, can change the course of a game with his disposal.

Despite this, poor delivery to their forwards, coupled with some average kicking from Tyrone Vickery and Jack Riewoldt, has meant that they haven’t troubled the scoreboard as much as they could, and a change in this could see their fortunes turn.

West Coast, too, will look for more accurate kicking in their forwards, having kicked 0.12 in the first half against Hawthorn. However, the rest of their side performed admirably despite last week being a low-scoring affair, and more of the same will be expected by John Worsfold.

Key Match-ups

Daniel Kerr v Trent Cotchin: Kerr is coming back into dangerous form for the first time in years, while Cotchin seems to be forever dangerous despite the “bear hugs”. Expect these two to go head to head in the outside battle.

Dean Cox/Nic Naitanui v Ivan Maric: Interestingly, SuperCoach tells us that Dean Cox historically does not perform as well against Richmond. However, the two-punch combo of Cox and NicNat is always difficult, as only one needs the upper hand.

Josh Kennedy v Alex Rance: Rance is in great form, while Kennedy has been inaccurate yet still dangerous. Nullifying JJK is crucial if the Tigers want to win.

Final Word

Eagles to march onwards towards premiership contention.

Eagles by 32

Teams

Richmond
B: Steven Morris, Alex Rance, Chris Newman
HB: Bachar Houli, Dylan Grimes, Jake Batchelor
C: Shaun Grigg, Dustin Martin, Daniel Jackson
HF: Brett Deledio, Brad Miller, Nathan Foley
F: Reece Conca, Jack Riewoldt, Robin Nahas
Foll: Ivan Maric, Trent Cotchin, Shane Tuck
I/C: Matthew White, Tyrone Vickery, Matt Dea, Brandon Ellis

West Coast Eagles
B: Eric Mackenzie, Darren Glass, Adam Selwood
HB: Beau Waters, Will Schofield, Shannon Hurn
C: Andrew Gaff, Matthew Priddis, Matthew Rosa
HF: Chris Masten, Quinten Lynch, Jack Darling
F: Dean Cox, Josh Kennedy, Ashton Hams
Foll: Nic Naitanui, Scott Selwood, Daniel Kerr
I/C: Sam Butler, Luke Shuey, Ashley Smith, Josh Hill

BigFooty Team Board Previews:

Richmond

West Coast

Follow it live on Bigfooty’s Game Day Thread.

Cats Clash With Hungry Lions

Geelong have won 9 of their last 10 encounters against the Brisbane Lions since 2007 and considering that one loss contained many omissions from the Cats’ best 22, they have utterly dominated the Lions in recent times.

However, things have changed. The Lions last year matched it with the Cats until midway through the last quarter and have gained a reputation for matching it with superior opposition for long periods.

Harry Taylor - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesdphotography/

The Cats’ aura of invincibility has diminished greatly as evident in the first four rounds. Injuries and retirements have hindered Geelong’s plans with an unconvincing start to the season.

They welcome back Matthew Scarlett to bolster a somewhat shaky defence.

WHY SHOULD YOU TUNE IN:

Brisbane Lions:

The question remains where and how the Lions can knock off the Cats. Do they have the A Graders to knock off them off? In short, the answer is yes. Jack Redden, Daniel Rich, Tom Rockliff and Simon Black head a star-studded midfield.

Naturally, the key to beating the Cats is to move the ball fast and with deadly accuracy. You can only assume that if the ball gets in the hands of these players, they can hit the targets, however, question marks hang over the Brisbane forward line and whether they have the firepower required to pull off a surprise win.

Jonathan Brown was one of the keys to the third quarter domination last week, but was absent for the rest of the match. Aaron Cornelius starred up forward last week in a breakout performance; and with Patrick Karnezis being put back into the squad, it makes for interesting viewing of how the next generation of Lions forwards play against stronger opposition.

Defence is still inexperienced with Mitchell Golby and Ryan Lester becoming relied upon as being the players to hold a out-of-form Steve Johnson and Paul Chapman. Regardless of this, pushing Daniel Merrett forward will be a double-edged sword for the Lions, leaving them exposed with the dynamic duo of James Podsiadly and Tom Hawkins on song.

Geelong:

Geelong’ s start to the season this year has flown under the radar to some extent. Collingwood, Carlton and Melbourne’s woes have all outdone the mediocre performances of the Cats. Aside from the last-gasp glory against the Hawks in Round 2, they have played undoubtedly average football.

Cameron Ling’s omission after retiring has been the most obvious, with oppostion midfielders running riot with a lack of an experienced tagger. Against the Cats this year, 12 players have racked up 25 or more touches and they have lost the possession count in every single game.

Geelong however have a chance to deploy the twin towers in Podsiadly and Hawkins. Hawkins who has had an extremely good start to the year, and Pods also playing well and having his career best haul against the Lions last year with 8.2, will fill Chris Scott with confidence. To get the results they’re getting without Johnson and Chapman in form is at least softens the blow.

Prediction:

Like last year’s clash, I can see Brisbane giving the Cats a run in the first three quarters. However, the Cats’ experienced campaigners and superior forward-line will be enough to edge pass the plucky Lions.

Cats by 15.

Brisbane Lions
B: Ashley McGrath, Matt Maguire, Ryan Lester
HB: Mitchell Golby, Joel Patfull, Pearce Hanley
C: Jed Adcock, Tom Rockliff, Josh Drummond
HF: Daniel Rich, Jonathan Brown, Todd Banfield
F: Jack Redden, Daniel Merrett, Aaron Cornelius
Foll: Ben Hudson, Simon Black, Andrew Raines
IC: James Polkinghorne, Jared Polec, Patrick Karnezis, Jack Crisp
Emg: Sam Sheldon, Ryan Harwood, Billy Longer
In: James Polkinghorne, Patrick Karnezis
Out: Sam Sheldon, Ryan Harwood

Geelong Cats
B: Josh Hunt, Tom Lonergan, Corey Enright
HB: Andrew Mackie, Matthew Scarlett, Harry Taylor
C: Taylor Hunt, Joel Corey, Allen Christensen
HF: Paul Chapman, Tom Hawkins, Mitch Duncan
F: Mathew Stokes, James Podsiadly, Steve Johnson
Foll: Trent West, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood
IC: Steven Motlop, Jesse Stringer, Billie Smedts, Cameron Guthrie
Emg: Tom Gillies, George Horlin-Smith, Orren Stephenson
In: Matthew Scarlett, Billie Smedts
Out: Tom Gillies, George Horlin-Smith

BigFooty Team Board Previews:

Brisbane

Geelong

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North to Eclipse Suns

WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Saturday April 28, 4.40pm

TV & RADIO: SEN, ABC 774, Triple M

BETTING: North Melbourne $1.01, Gold Coast $17. Line North -81.5 points

It feels like only yesterday that North Melbourne, or Kangaroos supporters as they were known then, were divided on the prospect of relocating to become the Gold Coast Kangaroos. Just a few short years later, and North Melbourne host the Gold Coast under the dome at Etihad for the first time.

Lindsay Thomas is beaten by the boundary - http://www.flickr.com/photos/natalietracy/

So far this year North have shown promising, yet inconsistent form, having followed their much-hyped win against Geelong with a disappointing loss in wet conditions against Sydney last week.

For the fledgling Gold Coast, results have been secondary to player development, although they would have been hoping for a better result last week in the “Q Clash” against Brisbane.

If things weren’t hard enough for the 0-4 Suns coming into this game, they have lost Gary Ablett for a few weeks with a knee injury. Touted as the best player in the game, Ablett is the straw stirring the drink in the Gold Coast midfield.

Make no mistake, his leadership and tireless work ethic will be near impossible to cover. The big change in structure for the Kangaroos is the omission of out-of-form ruckman Todd Goldstein.

Match-ups and Tactics:

On face value it would seem that North Melbourne is taking the opportunity against the Suns to mix things up in the ruck and forward-line.

Robbie Tarrant has been recalled and will play at least some of the match as a forward, which allows the Kangaroos the flexibility needed to play Drew Petrie in the ruck when Hamish McIntosh is resting.

North Melbourne’s mixed success has been largely dependent on their record breaking handball numbers. Running from half-back and handballing their way through the corridor has been the hallmark of their game-plan to date, a strategy that relies heavily on link men Brent Harvey and Daniel Wells finding space and running to receive.

Geelong for reasons unknown to the wider footy community allowed these two to run free and do as they pleased a fortnight ago, with Harvey spending large portions of the match playing loose across half-back.

A week later the Swans were much more accountable and successfully assigned Rhyce Shaw to Harvey, whilst also curbing the influence of Wells, and it resulted in a commanding victory.

The one key area the Suns have had reasonable success in has been their clearance work.

However, Ablett’s absence creates a massive hole, and the Suns will need each of Michael Rischitelli, David Swallow, Harley Bennell, Dion Prestia, Jared Brennen and Josh Caddy to contribute a little bit extra through the middle. Crowd favourite Karmichael Hunt is progressing nicely, and after his best performance to date last week, he will also be challenged to lift another gear.

Final Say:

The simple reality is that North Melbourne will be hoping to challenge for a spot in the finals, and the Suns will be hoping to win a handful of games. Without Ablett and the run of Jarrod Harbrow, the Suns have very little chance to challenge for a victory against the Kangaroos.

In perfect conditions under the roof, it’s just a question of how much North can win by.

North Melbourne by 75 points.

North Melbourne

B: Jamie Macmillan, Scott Thompson, Shaun Atley
HB: Daniel Wells, Michael Firrito, Luke Delaney
C: Leigh Adams, Andrew Swallow, Samuel Wright
HF: Ben Cunnington, Aaron Edwards, Brent Harvey
F: Kieran Harper, Drew Petrie, Lindsay Thomas
Foll: Hamish McIntosh, Jack Ziebell, Ryan Bastinac
I/C: Liam Anthony, Aaron Mullett, Robbie Tarrant, Levi Greenwood
Emg: Cruize Garlett, Brad McKenzie, Cameron Pederson
In: Aaron Mullett, Robbie Tarrant, Levi Greenwood
Out: Scott McMahon (Illness), Todd Goldstein, Matt Campbell

Gold Coast Suns
B:
Jared Brennan, Nathan Bock, Seb Tape
HB: Matt Shaw, Matthew Warnock, Joel Wilkinson
C: Michael Rischitelli, Karmichael Hunt, Trent McKenzie
HF: Harley Bennell, Tom Lynch, Brandon Matera
F: Campbell Brown, Sam Day, Luke Russell
Foll: Zac Smith, Josh Caddy, Dion Prestia
I/C: Charlie Dixon, Sam Iles, David Swallow, Kyal Horsley
Emg: Maverick Weller, Josh Toy, Aaron Hall
In: Charlie Dixon, Sam Iles, Joel Wilkinson, Kyal Horsley
Out: Jarrod Harbrow (Elbow), Gary Ablett (Knee), Josh Fraser, Aaron Hall
New: Kyal Horsley (Subiaco/Kalgoorlie City)

BigFooty Team Board Previews

North Melbourne

Gold Coast

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