All you need to know about Round 22 of the AFL.
Adelaide Crows vs Sydney Swans @Adelaide Oval
Stat Fact: Adelaide have both Taylor Walker (5th with 48.32) and Eddie Betts (7th with 45.25) in this seasons Top 10 Scorers while Sydney have Lance Franklin (3rd with 56.53).
Big Talking Point: Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin. Last weekend in Sydney’s pummelling of Fremantle he tailed four goals to go along with eight marks and twelve contested possessions. The two time AFL Premiership players form had been a bit wobbly recently before this breakout performance but for anyone who watched his master class it reinstated how crucial he could be to Sydney’s hopes of winning the Grand Final this year. Expect him to carry this strong performance through the rest of the regular season and into the finals.
What Will Happen: Despite both teams having strong defences they still have amazing attacking threats. This season both Adelaide and Sydney have combined to score 100 or more points in a game a very impressive 21 times. This combined with players such as Walker, Betts and Franklin all featuring means that that this number will be boosted to 23 times. Expect it to be a high point scoring affair.
What Won’t Happen: A blowout victory to either side. Despite Adelaide being in 1st place, Sydney are only three wins behind them in fifth. Both teams are in too much form at the moment to have a legitimate advantage over the other. Expect this to be a closely contested clash.
Our Tip: Sydney by 6.
Western Bulldogs vs Port Adelaide Power @Mars Stadium
Stat Fact: The last time these two teams met in Round 12, 2016, the score was Western Bulldogs 15.10.100 beating Port Adelaide 14.13.97. Can we expect a similar type of closeness this time around?
Big Talking Point: Bob Murphy has joined a long list of AFL stars retiring at the end of the season by calling time on his career. Murphy missed his teams historic Grand Final win to injury but in a moment sure to stick in many Western Bulldogs fans heads forever he was called up onto the stage by his coach as he placed his Premiership medallion around his neck. Murphy has been their captain since 2015 and is a two time All-Australian. He will be sorely missed from the game.
What Will Happen: Two wins from their final two games and it’s a good chance the Western Bulldogs will be playing September Footy. But only win one and due to their goal percentage they’ll be watching it from home. So what will happen is a side that’s extremely desperate to defend what is theirs come to play.
What Won’t Happen: Port Adelaide earning two chances in the finals by virtue of making the Top Four. For a long part of the season it looked as though Port Adelaide would be earing two finals lives but now with Sydney and Richmond ahead of them and a predicated loss on Saturday afternoon, they’ll have to be content with just making the finals.
Our Tip: Western Bulldogs by 10.
Collingwood Magpies vs Geelong Cats @Melbourne Cricket Ground
Stat Fact: Collingwood have won three of their past five games to go along with a draw as well as a loss.
Big Talking Point: Collingwood came out on top of the AFL membership ladder released recently. They currently have 75,879 members. This proved once again why Collingwood is the most well-backed and well-supported club in the league. In what is also a very good statistic for the league one in every 27 Australians is now a member of a club. That portrays a very positive image for the AFL.
What Will Happen: History being changed. Collingwood have won their past three clashes against Geelong by 29, 24 and 48 points. Given that Geelong are in third place and fighting for a spot in the Top Two it should change combined with Collingwood’s poor form for the season. Geelong should win this one and relatively easily at that.
What Won’t Happen: A soft game. Geelong are ranked number one in tackling in the league this season while Collingwood are equal 12th. Neither of these two teams are particularly fond of the other and won’t want to give the other an advantage in any way, shape or form. So based of this you can expect a hard-hitting, tough contest.
Our Tip: Geelong by 40.
Greater Western Sydney Giants vs West Coast Eagles @Spotless Stadium
Stat Fact: Andrew Gaff (West Coast) is ranked 4th in the league in kicks per game with 17.2 (344 in total for the year).
Big Talking Point: There is now a high possibility that GWS and their cross-town rivals Sydney could meet each other in the finals again. GWS want all their home finals to be played at Spotless while Sydney regardless of who’s hosting not Spotless. This has rightfully so angered GWS as they want their home ground advantage. ANZ Stadium has been mooted as a potential possibility but it would cost the AFL a lot of money to have the game hosted there.
What Will Happen: GWS showing how much an advantage Spotless is to them. This season at home GWS have won five of seven as well as a draw. Whenever they are playing at home it’s packed and an intimidating place to play at. GWS know this and look for a statement to be made by the team in regards to this.
What Won’t Happen: West Coast participating in this years finals series. West Coast should lose this game as well as both Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs being expected to win both their final two games. They should finish in 9th position if all goes as expected. For a side that has been so successful this past decade it is extremely disappointing. But who knows, maybe they’ll switch the script?
Our Tip: GWS by 16.
Gold Coast Suns vs Essendon Bombers @Metricon Stadium
Stat Fact: The last time these two teams clashed heads was in Round 21 of 2016. The result was an Essendon win by the score of 11.9.75 to 9.15.69. Will this encounter be as tightly contested as well?
Big Talking Point: Will he or won’t he. Speculation continues to persist that Gary Ablett won’t see out the remainder of his contract with the Gold Coast. He has been linked with a move back to Geelong among other teams. While he has been a good, veteran leader up on the Tourist Strip he has been plagued with injuries. Despite this when he has suited up for the Gold Coast he has played strongly. A lot of people would disagree with this but I am of the opinion that he should move on, while there have been obvious arguments made that he should stay as well.
What Will Happen: What should happen is the Gold Coast putting in a half decent effort. What should happen is Essendon showing that they care about making the finals. Last week the Gold Coast lost by 58 points to last placed Brisbane while Essendon didn’t put up much of a fight in their 43 point loss to Adelaide. But unfortunately for both fan bases these sides never perform how you want them too. If both teams turn up to play expect it to be a tight encounter, but that’s a big if.
What Won’t Happen: A strong effort defensively from the Gold Coast. All year long they’ve leaked in points and that’s in part due to their horrible tackling. They have made the least tackles of anyone this year. Look for this negative trend to continue in this clash.
Our Tip: Gold Coast by two.
Carlton Blues vs Hawthorn Hawks @Etihad Stadium
Stat Fact: Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn), is 2nd in the league in handballs per game with 21.6 (432 in total).
Big Talking Point: Lauren Arnell, Brianna Davey, Alison Downie, Sarah Hosking and Nicola Stevens (Carlton) have all been selected to play in the Women’s State of Origin match. They are all talented players who rightfully so warranted selection in this big game. The Carlton Women’s team are currently in the top half of the competition and with their current form could definitely help the men play better than they have been.
What Will Happen: Under 100 again for Carlton. Attacking wise Carlton have been pathetic this season. They have yet to score 100 points a game and their average is 73. The closest they have come is 97 and that was on one occasion this season. Against Hawthorn they certainly won’t be breaking that drought in this encounter.
What won’t happen: Hawthorn are nine of their past nine against Carlton. Carlton won’t be breaking this streak anytime soon unfortunately. Expect Hawthorn to make it a relatively easy 10.
Our Tip: Hawthorn by 16.
Melbourne Demons vs Brisbane Lions @Melbourne Cricket Ground
Stat Fact: The last time these two teams met it was a huge 64 point victory to Melbourne in Round Nine of 2016. The score was 19.17.131 to 9.14.68. You can expect a similar margin this time around.
Big Talking Point: Despite being in last place Brisbane are in good form at the moment and showing promising signs for next season and beyond. Since the bye they have won four games which beats out five other teams. Not only that but they could also avoid finishing last with Carlton and North Melbourne on the same amount of wins as them (five) as well as the Gold Coast being only one ahead of those three teams. With all their exciting talent and improvement shown this season you can look forward to a successful future as a Brisbane fan, no doubt about it.
What Will Happen: Despite all this positivity recently surrounding Brisbane they will still be smashed by Melbourne. Brisbane are still last for certain reasons while Melbourne are trying to return to the September action for the first time in a long time. Sorry Brisbane fans but you might want to cover your eyes for this one.
What Won’t Happen: A lot won’t happen in this clash due to Brisbane’s capabilities and Melbourne’s inconsistences. One thing that won’t happen though is the MCG proving to be a happy place for Brisbane. At the MCG against Melbourne they have only won three while they have lost 13.
Our Tip: Melbourne by 60.
St Kilda Saints vs North Melbourne Kangaroos @Etihad Stadium
Stat Fact: Ben Brown (North Melbourne) is ranked 4th in this seasons goal scoring charts with 54.26.
Big Talking Point: Jack Billings has signed a new two year AFL deal with St Kilda. The former number three draft pick is a great young talent who has scored 27 goals in 42 games for the club. This is awesome news for the club who are currently trying to win their final two games of the season and sneak into the finals picture.
What Will Happen: A St Kilda win. They need to win and win big to give them some hope of a Top Eight finish. This year they have beaten Brisbane by 31, Hawthorn by 75, Gold Coast by 31 and Richmond by 67. This showing us that on their day they can really flex their muscle and do some real damage to the team they’re playing.
What Won’t Happen: Anything really resembling some decent defence for North Melbourne. Since Round 11 they’ve been leaking in 105 points per game and haven’t been scoring even close to that amount to try and counter it. This obviously spells bad news for them given St Kilda’s particular need this game to score goals. Things will be getting very ugly in this game.
Our Tip: St Kilda by 70.
Fremantle Dockers vs Richmond Tigers @Domain Stadium
Stat Fact: In Round Eight of this season Fremantle 10.12.72 beat Richmond 10.10.70. In what shapes as a pivotal match for Richmond’s Top Four hopes the result should be reversed this time around along with a bigger gap in the score.
Big Talking Point: Harley Bennell will finally be making his long awaited debut for Richmond in this game. Bennell his made it through four WAFL games un-hurt helping him in preparation for this weekend. The former Gold Coast man had a moment to forget earlier this year when he was deemed too drunk on a Virgin flight and asked to leave.
What Will Happen: Richmond giving their Top Four pursuit a massive leg up. Currently they sit two points behind Geelong in 3rd and four points behind GWS in 2nd. A win would be massive for them and they should be able to do just that. With the likes of Jack Riewoldt (43.30) and Dustin Martin (28.23) leading the squad they should be able to get it done and with a bit of style as well.
What Won’t Happen: Fremantle putting up a pathetic excuse of a performance such as they did last week in their 104 point loss to Sydney. The loss was Ross Lyon’s biggest during his time at Fremantle and will no doubt have them prepared as best as possible for this encounter. Expect some massive improvements from Fremantle but not enough to get them a much needed victory.
Our Tip: Richmond by 35.