2012 Brownlow Preview

Brownlow Medal

The 2012 Brownlow Medal looks to be one of the most open in recent years, with up to nine players considered legitimate chances.

As always we expect it to primarily be a midfielder’s award. The shortest price you’ll find for a big man at Sportsbet is ruckman Dean Cox at 150-1, and you need to go down to Tom Hawkins at 250-1 before you’ll find anyone who plays predominantly forward or back.

Bigfooty News takes a look at the top chances:

Trent Cotchin (Richmond) – $4.25

The inspirational Tiger stamped himself as one of the AFL’s elite in 2012, and has been nominated as the equal favourite to take Charlie home. Brett Deledio may well take votes from him in the early rounds, however Cotchin should easily poll the most votes for Richmond in the second half of the year. Expect him to poll well in the final rounds in particular, starting with his 35 disposals and three goals against the Bulldogs in round 20, and a clear best on ground in their final round draw against Port Adelaide.

Gary Ablett (Gold Coast) – $4.25

The 2009 Brownlow winner has polled 20 or more votes in each of the last five seasons. He proved last year that he has no problem polling votes in a losing team with a tally of 23, and many would say he’s had a better year in 2012. The man voted by his peers as the AFL’s most valuable player this year has had 40 or more possessions seven times this year.

Jobe Watson (Essendon) – $5.25

A stunningly consistent year has seen Watson collect 25 or more disposals in 19 of his 22 games, with the Essendon captain spending much of his time right under the umpire’s nose winning the hard ball. Despite the near certainty that team mate Brent Stanton will take some votes from him early, Watson is almost sure to be leading the count up until round 13, and probably even round 16. His form continued throughout the year, but his biggest concern is that Essendon lost their last seven games of the year, often by big margins.

Scott Thompson (Adelaide) – $8.00

The Adelaide ball magnet was at it again in 2012, averaging 29.5 disposals in a side that collected 17 wins. Thompson traditionally polls well, and will be in the umpire’s sights again with the second most clearances in the AFL. With an impressive 30 or more disposals on 12 occasions this year, Thompson is every chance to be in the mix late in the count.

Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide) – $9.00

The dynamic Adelaide midfielder had his breakout year in 2012, and what a year it was. First in the AFL for hard ball gets, Dangerfield also has the advantage of being explosive when in space. He was often the go to man who stood up in the big moments, and did not miss a game this season.

Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn) – $12.00

Another proven vote getter, Sam Mitchell only just missed out last year with 30 votes. Has had slightly less of the ball than last year, however his creativity by hand, particularly in the big moments, seems to have somehow improved. A clear best on ground with his 32 disposals in Hawthorn’s big win over Carlton in round 14, should be the start of a streak in which Mitchell storms home strongly.

Dane Swan (Collingwood) – $14.00

Last year’s winner after polling 34 votes has averaged 34.7 disposals a week, which is up by four on the 31.7 he averaged in his Brownlow year. He has however played three less games and had six less wins than 2011. Probably has been a little less effective with ball in hand compared to last year, but a previous winner with those sorts of numbers simply cannot be ruled out.

Josh Kennedy (Sydney) – $18.00

With a similar big-bodied style to Jobe Watson, Kennedy’s votes will likely come in bursts. He opened the season with a bang, and could legitimately claim three votes in each of the first five weeks. Is expected to poll less frequently in the middle rounds of the season, however will almost certainly poll votes in each of the last three games.

Dayne Beams (Collingwood) $21.00

Unlikely to poll votes until his 33 disposal game against the Western Bulldogs in round six, however expect to hear his name regularly from this point on.  A dynamic player who is hard to miss when he plays well, Beams averaged 31 disposals a week and often contributed goals.

 

 

Dees to Tank it out Against Giants

WHERE AND WHEN: Manuka Oval, Saturday August 18, 2.10pm

Both Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney have been associated with talks surrounding tanking in recent weeks and their clash on Saturday may have further implications on the number 1 pick.

Greater Western Sydney sit a the bottom of the ladder only by percentage. This was no thanks to Gold Coast who by beating the Giants last week moved above them.

This game brought further scrutiny about tanking, this time at GWS as several key players did not play. Do not expect to see them this week either as the players such as Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron went into surgery. A win would see the Suns take the spoon and that is an outcome Greater Western Sydney would rather avoid.

Melbourne sit third last and a game clear of the bottom two. Their position favours the Giants as they will have a desire to win.  A loss would not change their position on the ladder and if anything will result in more humiliation.

Last time they met Melbourne disposed of Greater Western Sydney by 78 points, exacting revenge on former player Tom Scully.

Do not expect the same margin this time, the Giants have a good record at  Manuka, with their first win and another close loss. Meanwhile Melbourne have a terrible travelling record with an average losing margin of 74 points when interstate; an indictment on their performances.

Why You Should Tune In

This game is hardly the stand out of the round but it should provide a close contest. With both teams sitting at the bottom of the ladder the skill difference is not that large and a close game is usually a good one.

This game will also showcase some of the youngsters that have plenty of potential. Despite the absence of Patton and Cameron amongst others the Giants still have the likes of Adam Treloar and William Hoskin-Elliott who will thrive against a weaker team.

Melbourne are not short in this department either, Sam Blease has just come off a Rising Star Nomination after kicking 5 goals against the Saints.

Prediction 

If there were full teams and nothing to play for Greater Western Sydney may have gone in favourites. However they have too much to lose and their selection policy and injury management may suggest something about this.

Melbourne on the other hand have to win this if they want to keep any pride in tact and they should. They will too strong for the depleted Giants.

Melbourne by 26

GWS Giants

B: Adam Kennedy, Phil Davis, Matthew Buntine
HB: Curtly Hampton, Chad Cornes, Sam Darley
C: Tom Scully, Luke Power, WIlliam Hoskin-Elliott
HF: Tim Golds, Nick Haynes, Shaun Edwards
F: Devon Smith, Israel Folau, Taylor Adams
Foll: Jonathan Giles, Anthony Miles, Toby Greene
I/C: Steve Clifton, Andrew Phillips, James McDonald, Dom Tyson
Emg: Jack Hombsch, Nathan Wilson, Rhys Palmer

In: Nick Haynes, Toby Greene, Taylor Adams, James McDonald, Dom Tyson
Out: Tomas Bugg, Jeremy Cameron (Hip), Jack Hombsch, Adam Treloar, Adam Tomlinson (Kidney)

Milestones: Luke Power – 300 games

Melbourne

B: Joel Macdonald, James Sellar, Tom McDonald
HB: Jack Watts, James Frawley, Colin Garland
C: Jack Trengove, Jordie McKenzie, Jack Grimes
HF: Neville Jetta, Brad Green, Rohan Bail
F: Jeremy Howe, Jared Rivers, Sam Blease
Foll: Jake Spencer, Colin Sylvia, Nathan Jones
I/C: Lynden Dunn, James Strauss, Luke Tapscott, Thomas Couch
Emg: Jordan Gysberts, Jack Fitzpatrick, James Magner

In: James Frawley, Jack Watts, Thomas Couch
Out: Matthew Bate, Brent Moloney, James Magner

BigFooty Team Board Previews:

GWS

Melbourne

Follow it live on BigFooty’s Game Day Thread

Doctor doctor, give me the news

WHERE and WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Friday, 17 August, 7:50pm

How the footy cycle turns, it was only 2009 when these two sides clashed in a memorable Grand Final, yet in 2012 sitting 7th and 10th, this is a must win clash for both teams just to make the eight.

All the interest in the lead up to this game will be on the fitness of each club’s spearhead forwards Tom Hawking and Nick Riewoldt. Both will no doubt be given until the very last moment to prove their fitness from their concussion/knee injuries respectively, although you think if they do play the lack of mental agility from Hawkins may be a lesser loss than the diminished running ability of Riewoldt.

The two clubs have played 207 times, with the current tally 124 to 83 in favour of the Cats. The Cats have won the past two meetings of the two sides (both in 2011); and the teams have split their twelve matches at Docklands six apiece.

The Cats had been ominously charging towards September with victories over Essendon, Adelaide and Hawthorn – in the game of the year, before their close loss to the Eagles after losing spearhead forward Hawkins early in the game.

Steve Johnson was near unstoppable in the first half, but faded in the third quarter, but was able to cover the loss of the rested Kelly and racked up 32 disposals and ten tackles. The emerging Allen Christensen also found plenty of the ball, and Motlop and Stokes proved handy up forward to cover the loss of Hawkins.

The Cats footy manager Neil Balme said he was confident the Cats would be boosted by the availability of Joel Corey, James Kelly and Trent West. The availability of West is particularly timely to come in to replace injured ruckman Orren Stephenson, who broke his hand against the Eagles on Friday night. Paul Chapman was restricted to light training early in the week and will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness, as will Hawkins who trained with the group on Tuesday.

Cats captain Joel Selwood will also play after having to plead guilty for an incident that was nothing more than sibling rivalry.

St Kilda will be sweating on the return of their skipper Nick Riewoldt, who sustained an injury to his right knee against the Demons. Riewoldt is the Saints leading goal kicker, and focal point – with 47 goals, and a marking target for 131 of his side’s forward entries this season. In the skipper’s absence, former Eagle Beau Wilkes was able to chime in with a career high five goals against the demons, and will be expected to provide similar scoreboard pressure alongside Justin Koschitzke on Friday night if the skipper doesn’t come up.

Nick Del Santo and Leigh Montagna have been busy of late, while Brendon Goddard and Lenny Hayes have been workman like, but yet to capture their previous stellar form and will have to lift if the Saints are any hope.

Clint Jones and Farren Ray were both late withdrawals before the demons game, but are expected to return after strong form in the VFL.

If both Hawkins and Riewoldt were to miss, the Cats have had Podsiadly, Motlop, Stokes, Chapman, Taylor, Johnson and Duncan all kick multiple goals in matches, while the Saints could welcome in promising forward Arryn Siposs who kicked four goals for Sandringham last week, Adam Schneider and Jason Blake to cover.

Prediction:

Two separate games could play out depending on prognoses, yet both teams will be equally desperate to win. The battle in the centre will be crucial not only in feeding the – potentially makeshift – forward lines, but also for pushing forward and scoring themselves. Geelong seem to have more answers up forward and more mids in form or fresh for what will be a tough and tight contest.

Geelong by 18

Geelong Cats

B: Matthew Scarlett, Tom Lonergan, Josh Hunt
HB: Andrew Mackie, Harry Taylor, Corey Enright
C: Mitch Duncan, Steve Johnson, Joel Corey
HF: Paul Chapman, James Podsiadly, Steven Motlop
F: Mathew Stokes, Tom Hawkins, Jimmy Bartel
Foll: Trent West, Joel Selwood, James Kelly
I/C: Jonathan Simpkin, Taylor Hunt, Josh Walker, Jordan Murdoch
Emg: David Wojcinski, Jackson Sheringham, Cameron Guthrie

In: Paul Chapman, Joel Corey, Josh Hunt, James Kelly, Trent West
Out: David Wojcinski, Jackson Sheringham, Allen Christensen (Groin), Cameron Guthrie, Orren Stephenson (Hand)

St Kilda

B: Jarryn Geary, James Gwilt, Tom Simpkin
HB: Sean Dempster, Sam Fisher, Sam Gilbert
C: Jason Gram, Lenny Hayes, Brendon Goddard
HF: Ahmed Saad, Beau Wilkes, Nick Dal Santo
F: Stephen Milne, Justin Koschitzke, Leigh Montagna
Foll: Ben McEvoy, David Armitage, Jack Steven
I/C: Jason Blake, Adam Schneider, Farren Ray, Jamie Cripps
Emg: Rhys Stanley, Arryn Siposs, Jack Newnes

In: Jason Blake, Adam Schneider, Farren Ray
Out: Nick Riewoldt (Knee), Tom Ledger, Sam Dunell

BigFooty Team Board Previews:

Geelong

St Kilda

Follow it live on BigFooty’s Game Day Thread

Crows Lion up for top spot on the ladder

WHEN and WHERE: Saturday August 18, 7:40pm, Gabba

Adelaide, with some recent gritty wins and their soft draw, look set to charge into top spot of the AFL ladder while the Lions are looking forward to their end of season trip.

The past two meetings of the two sides have been spit one apiece, the Lions beating the Crows by 40 at AAMI in round ten last year, while Adelaide beat Brisbane by five at the Gabba in round 20, their second win on the trot here.

The Crows have severely dented the top eight hopes of Essendon and Fremantle in recent weeks, and with Brisbane – who have lost five of their past six matches – then Melbourne and GWS to come look set to finish the AFL season top of the pops and earn a home final.

Brisbane were trounced by the Eagles in Perth in round 18, and have fared only marginally better against Richmond and Carlton in the last fortnight, and seem to be just limping to season’s end. Perhaps the only bright point of the northern visit of the Crows will be the fact Kurt Tippett shall be meeting with his management in Brisbane to decide his future Friday night, with the Lions believed to have offered him a huge contract.

The Crows look set to completely dominate the centre, they average ten more hit outs a game against the Lions in recent seasons, and with their ruckman Sam Jacobs in AFL leading form on the tap, has helped the Crows to number one clearance side in the competition. Scott Thompson has notched up 38 and 36 disposals and 3 votes last time the sides met, and even the suffocating tag of Andrew Raines may struggle to contain him.

Brisbane’s beleaguered defence will be bolstered by the return of Matt Maguire and Josh Drummond, but you feel even they won’t be able to stem the tide against a Crows midfield-and forward line in ominous form. Tippett will be tested after the Crows training on Friday to see if he has overcome his concussion.

Prediction:

Adelaide should win handsomely, but it’s one of those games where a team with nothing to play for can cause consternation for a side coasting and not paying due respect to their opponents.

Crows by 77.

BRISBANE LIONS V ADELAIDE
G – Sat Aug 18, 7:40pm

Brisbane Lions

B: Ryan Harwood, Daniel Merrett, Joel Patfull
HB: Pearce Hanley, Matt Maguire, Jed Adcock
C: Rohan Bewick, Daniel Rich, James Polkinghorne
HF: Jack Redden, Jonathan Brown, Dayne Zorko
F: Tom Rockliff, Jordan Lisle, Joshua Green
Foll: Ben Hudson, Simon Black, Andrew Raines
I/C: Claye Beams, Ryan Lester, Elliot Yeo, Jack Crisp
Emg: Josh Drummond, Sam Docherty, Stephen Wrigley

In: Matt Maguire, Jack Crisp
Out: Todd Banfield, Stephen Wrigley

Adelaide

B: Sam Shaw, Ben Rutten, Michael Doughty
HB: Graham Johncock, Daniel Talia, Brent Reilly
C: David Mackay, Scott Thompson, Nathan van Berlo
HF: Richard Douglas, Taylor Walker, Jared Petrenko
F: Matthew Wright, Kurt Tippett, Ian Callinan
Foll: Sam Jacobs, Patrick Dangerfield, Rory Sloane
I/C: Chris Knights, Bernie Vince, Luke Brown, Josh Jenkins
Emg: Aidan Riley, Richard Tambling, Lewis Johnston

In: Chris Knights, Kurt Tippett, Luke Brown
Out: Aidan Riley, Brodie Smith (Calf), Lewis Johnston

BigFooty Team Board Previews:

Brisbane

Adelaide

Follow it live on BigFooty’s Game Day Thread

To Tank or for Pride?

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Sunday August 12, 3.15pm

LAST TIME: Western Bulldogs 23.15 (153) d Richmond 18.10 (118) in round eight, 2011, at Etihad Stadium

Unfortunately for the game itself, most eyes will be locked on the stands on young Bulldogs Tom Liberatore, who was suspended for the season after being found unconscious in Melbourne with illicit drugs. It is a massive blow to the youngster himself and the club, who, largely thanks to Jason Akermanis, have faced more than their fair share of negative press in the past few years.

It seems an eternity since these two teams last met, with the last contest well over a year ago, but yet the situations between the clubs seem eerily similar to those that surrounded the last contest.

The Dogs are quite clearly in a rebuilding phase. It didn’t take long for that to become clear last season, and they have continued down that path this season, which has been quite painful for Doggies fans. At times, they appear complete lost forward of centre, yet on other occasions (such as their shock victory over North Melbourne in round seven) their hardness at the ball makes any forward line issues look irrelevant as their midfield completely takes over proceedings.

The Tigers, like 2011, were supposed to contend and were meant to be playing finals. Again, the sale of home games has been costly (though not a reasonable excuse for the performances) and we’re left with a contest between two sides that really have nothing to play for at this point for season 2012.

But, that does not mean the game will not be a fierce one. The Tigers will surely want to send a message to those in the eight that the mistakes made this season will not happen again next season and 2013 will see the rise of the Tigers. Good form through the final four weeks is one way of doing that.

The Bulldogs will want to continue to develop the hard, contested gameplan that coach Brendan McCartney has been determined to create. They may look to the future with some ‘experimental’ positional changes, in a move that has been used in the past by other clubs to secure lower draft picks, but it seems unlikely with the culture McCartney wishes to create.

Final Say

Richmond will have a point to prove whilst the Dogs will continue to nurture their youngsters towards perfecting the gameplan their coach demands. The midfield battle should be an interesting one, with both sides strong through the centre, but Richmond should have too much around the ground.

Richmond by 27

 

Buddys return to outshine Buddha’s retreat

WHERE and WHEN: Aurora Stadium, Sunday, 12 August – 1:10pm

Port Adelaide’s tumultuous week is set to get a lot worse facing a Hawthorn side smarting from an after-the-siren loss in the game of the season.

There were absolutely no positives to be taken out of Port Adelaide’s loss to GWS last week. The performance was so inept coach Matthew Primus couldn’t even see out the game, and subsequently won’t be seeing out the season. The president fell on his sword with him. The appointment of Gary Hocking as interim coach may well turn the club’s fortunes around temporarily, yet they face a monster of a task that even the real Buddha himself would baulk at facing Hawthorn fresh from a close loss to nemesis Geelong.

Port have been another of Hawthorn’s bogey sides, beating them 15 of their 25 clashes, yet the Hawks have won their last three meetings including a 165-point drubbing at the ‘G late last year. Statistically, Port aren’t too far behind the Hawks in contested possessions and points conceded, though they have been lacking the forward firepower and consistency for most of the season. They’ll lift and be putting their head over the ball for their new coach after an effort last week that was labelled “bruise free football”.

Up until their ninth straight loss to Geelong since beating them for the 2008 flag, Hawthorn had stormed into premiership favouritism with a string of crushing defeats including a thorough dismantling of the then top of the table Pies as well as kicking some cricket scores against lowly teams.

The Hawks look set to start Lance Franklin who will return from a month on the sidelines, and Max Bailey, who was a late withdrawal against Geelong is certain to play. Liam Shiels accepted a one match suspension which opens the door for the return of Chance Bateman or Xavier Ellis – who have been starring for Box hill – into the middle.

Teams always fire after the sacking of a coach mid-season, yet the Hawks welcoming back Buddy and Bailey, and no doubt seething from their loss to Geelong will most likely make Buddha’s initiation to coaching a less than spiritual one.

Prediction: Hawks by 46

Blues Battle Brisbane For Finals Fantasy

WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Saturday August 11, 7.40pm

Carlton are still clinging to their slim chance to make finals and must beat Brisbane this week to stay in the race.

Last week the Blue’s chances took a hit with a 22 point loss to Sydney. They put up a valiant effort against the top team and must back it up this week to win.

Brisbane also were on the wrong end of a loss, going down to Richmond by 48 points. It was a winnable game so they will be looking to redeem themselves this week, and they are not without a chance.

The Blues will head into the game without fullback Michael Jamison, which will leave them exposed to the height of Jonathan Brown and Daniel Merrit who may return forward.

What Carlton Will Want to See  

While it is still possible to make finals Carlton are not as intent as making it as the teams above them. This approach has allowed them to blood some inexperience such as Levi Casboult and Tom Bell who have held their own. Another solid performance this week would be great for their confidence and development.

Last week also saw the return of Jarrad Waite, with 3 goals and 8 marks he was a welcome return. The Blues will want another good performance which could even be confined to creating the contest that they have desperately missed in the forward line.

What Brisbane Will Want to See

Last week  Simon Black started as the sub. Having a fit 3 time All Australian, 3 time premier and Brownlow medallist on the bench is farcical. He showed when he came on how good he still is so he must start on the field if the Lions are any chance.

Brisbane will really want to push Carlton this week. Throughout the season the Lions have made steps forward including beating West Coast. If they want to start contending for finals in the near future they need to start winning games like these, interstate games against teams that sit above them.

Predictions

With Brisbane no chance of making finals they would like nothing more than to come to Melbourne and end Carlton’s hopes.

However Carlton have been able to make the most of less than desirable situation and find some good form. The fact that it is played in Melbourne will give the Blues the edge in what will be a close game.

Carlton by 8pts

Swans To Break Magpie Hoodoo

WHERE AND WHEN: ANZ Stadium, Saturday August 11, 7.40pm

Six years ago Sydney edged out Collingwood by 1 point, since then they have been unable to replicate the result. That looks set to change as the top of the table Swans have the form.

Sydney made it 9 in a row last week when they accounted for the Blues by 22 points. In a game where an upset was not impossible the Swans did what they had to do and took away the four points.

Collingwood’s game against St Kilda also provided a challenge. This time the Saints took it right up to the Pies only losing by 6 points in the end.

Collingwood will, this week, be without superstar Dane Swan because a club imposed suspention. He received 2 weeks for going out late and will be a big loss to their midfield.

Jude Bolton will miss this week after injuring his knee while Sam Reid remains on the sideline. The Swans will defiantly miss the influence of both.

What Collingwood would like to see

The Pies and their fans would love to see a solid 4 quarter performance which was not present in both the Saints and Hawks games. If they can achieve that it may be the deciding factor.

The midfield will also need to step up. While there are plenty of quality players filling Swan’s spot, Sydney are on top for a reason and will definatley take it up to  Collingwood.

What Sydney would like to see

A win. Collingwood have had an edge over Sydney for so long and now would be a good time to  end it. They are on top and have all the credentials of a premiership team, it is now or never.

The Swans will also want a good game from Shane Mumford. Jolly was the difference last week for the Pies in one of his best game for the club.

However that performance is more of an exception these days and Mumford has the capablity to dominate Jolly giving Sydney the upper hand.

Prediction

In the past this game was a certainty for Collingwood but the circumstances have changed. ANZ Stadium might give the Pies an advantage but their past few perfomances haven’t been convincing.

Conversely Sydney are flying and should finally break a their Hoodoo further which will further extend their premiership contention.

Swans by 6

The Battle for #1… Pick

WHERE and WHEN: Metricon Stadium, Saturday 11 August, 4:40PM

The AFL’s two expansion clubs meet in a match that could decide the wooden spoon, and the post-season reward that comes with it.

The game between last and second last between the Gold Coast Suns and GWS takes on a fresh intrigue in the wake of Brock McLean’s recent tanking accusations against the Demons.

It is a game both teams would see as winnable, and also a yardstick of the development and future potential of some of the most exciting youngsters in the game on each team’s list. Yet you can’t help but think the shadow of ‘tanking’ may lurk over the contest.

The Giants have already beaten the Suns twice this year, once, in the NAB Cup and also for their historic first ever AFL season victory in Canberra in round seven.

GWS will be coming off an emphatic victory against Port Adelaide, a fitting win to mark the occasion of Kevin Sheedy’s 1000th game as coach, which broke a string of crushing three-figure defeats.

The Suns are facing a mounting injury list with more than fifteen players injured or facing tests to play. The latest additions to the list include Sam Iles, Karmichael Hunt, Michael Rischitelli, Luke Russell, Zac Smith and Dion Prestia. Emerging midfielder David Swallow also sustained a knee injury in his side’s 42 point loss to the Demons, and will only be played if he is 100% according to the Suns coaching staff. Forced inclusions for the Suns will most likely come in the form of Aaron Hall, Kyal Horsely and Steven May, who while unproven will be grasping the opportunity to play at the top level with both hands.

Garry Ablett is always a big consideration for the Suns but the former Geelong star appeared frustrated towards the end of last week’s match due to the close checking of the Dees James Magner. If Swallow doesn’t come up, it reduces the midfield negating required by the Giants, who boast a formidable attacking young centre crew of their own with Adam Treloar, Stephen Coniglio and Taylor Adams all finding the ball and form of late.

The loss of Zac Smith in the ruck for the Suns may be the biggest gap to fill as the ‘Big red bear’ Jonathan Giles has been dominating for GWS in recent weeks both in the taps and around the ground, and the size and skill of Dean Brogan can come to the fore against a second-string opponent and give his pacy midfielders first use.

The battle of the emerging forwards with Harvel Bennell scoring four and a best on ground for Gold Coast, with the support of the enigmatic Jared Brennan up against the up and coming duo of Cameron Elliott and Jonathon Patton, and the support of Rising Star listed Devon Smith for GWS should prove an intriguing battle.

GWS inflicted a victory that cost a club a coach and played promisingly in patches against the Pies. Their seven Rising Star nominations is testament to their young players finding their feet at AFL level. Gold Coast have a ball-magnet in Ablett and excitement aplenty in Bennell though their injury list is becoming a big issue.

Prediction: GWS by 19.

Form meets fitness as Dockers and Crows clash

WHERE and WHEN: AAMI Stadium, Saturday, August 11 – 2:10pm

Fremantle are one of the form sides of the competition; coming off a ten goal walloping of the Eagles in the Derby and meet an Adelaide side who just held on their second spot with a tense, narrow win over the Bombers.

The Dockers, lead by a Coleman Medal-leading resurgence from Matthew Pavlich up forward, laid waste to the Giants, eased off after a crushing first half against the Power and obliterated their Western Australian rivals by 65 points in the past three weeks.

Fremantle’s midfield have finally got some continuity after injury interrupted seasons and David Mundy, Nat Fyfe and Michael Barlow are all finding form and the ball in a big way. Luke McPharlin is out due to suspension.

Adelaide also enjoyed a big win over West Coast in round seventeen, but since lost to an injury depleted Cats – who were two down on the bench with Johnson in the first minute and Corey sustaining injuries – and just lasted to beat the Bombers by four.

The Crows are likely to welcome back Kurt Tippet – subject to medical approval – and Jason Porplyzia, who was subbed off against the bombers, to their forward line, with winger David Mackay also expected to be fit. Patrick Dangerfield and Taylor Walker have been racking up the stats and getting amongst the goals of late, while Scott Thompson has been providing some hardness in the middle.

The two teams have met 28 times for 17 wins to the Crows, with twelve of those wins coming at Footy Park. Adelaide enjoyed a 29 point win over Fremantle in round ten, kicking the last five goals of the game thanks to a 33 disposal, three goal game to Rory Sloane – who may find himself tagged by Ryan Crowley this time. Fremantle won the previous clash between the sides here by 25 in a hard-fought affair.

The Crows staunch defender Ben Rutten should have the hard task of quelling Pavlich in a contest that will be vital in what proves to be a tight tussle. Sam Jacobs is leading the comp in hit outs to advantage and will give the Crows on-ballers first crack in the crucial ball out of the middle and stemming the service to an in-form Pavlich.

The Crows have won three games this season by less than ten points, yet Fremantle come into the game boasting the second best defence in the competition, which may be a factor with two Crows forwards coming in under an injury cloud.

Prediction: Crows by 7.