All the latest team news and predictions for this weekend's big games in the AFL.
Hawthorn Hawks vs Western Bulldogs @Etihad Stadium, Friday 7:50pm
Stat Fact: Hawthorn have won eight of their past nine clashes against the Western Bulldogs. However, the last game these two sides played back in Round 25 of last season was a 23-point victory to the Western Bulldogs.
Big Talking Point: Last weekend both teams had their finals hopes ended in brutal losses. For Hawthorn they were heavy favourites to beat Carlton but lost 77-70 to the Wooden Spoon contender. For the Western Bulldogs they lost by 17 points to Port Adelaide meaning they no longer have the chance to defend what they claimed as their own last season. For Alistair Clarkson’s men this result was semi-expected given the mini re-build they undertook at the end of last year. As for Luke Beveridge’s men, they fully expected to be playing finals footy this season and will recognise that their year on the whole has been very poor, especially after they took the AFL by storm last season.
What Will Happen: This game means absolutely nothing but there are still some reasons to watch it. One of these main reasons is to lookout for a bounce back performance from Hawthorn team-member James Sicily. The ex-2013 draft pick gave away seven free-kicks last week against Carlton in his sides tight loss. Expect him to play a bit differently this Friday night.
What Won’t Happen: A low scoring encounter. Despite both sides struggles this year, Hawthorn have still scored 100 or more points five times and have been in the 90-point range a further four times. As for the Western Bulldogs, in this statistic they have done it seven times collectively. If nothing else from this game you can look forward to a high-scoring clash.
Our Tip: Hawthorn by 12.
Collingwood Magpies vs Melbourne Demons @Melbourne Cricket Ground, Saturday, 1:45pm
Stat Fact: Collingwood’s top goal-scorer this year is Jamie Elliot with 31.15 while Melbourne’s is Jeff Garlett with 40.26.
Big Talking Point: Jake Spencer looks like he will be assessing his free-agency options at the end of this season. The 27-year-old was injured this season while filling in for Max Gawn. Gawn is posed to sign a long-term contract with Melbourne meaning Spencer might have to look elsewhere to secure his future and he has already been linked with several clubs. He would be a solid pick-up for any club looking to acquire him.
What Will Happen: History continuing for the finals playing Melbourne side. Melbourne have won their past four clashes against Collingwood and combined with their shocker of a season after Saturday afternoon is over it should be five off five. Melbourne are raring up to play finals footy and what better way to re-enter the fray with a big win. Melbourne will really showcase all they have to offer in this encounter.
What Won’t Happen: Hogan not getting a couple more up on the board. Last week Jesse Hogan returned from a broken collar-bone in his sides 13-point win over Brisbane. He bagged six and had a strong performance. As Melbourne enter September footy expect him to acclimatise himself to the game more by getting a couple more goals.
Our Tip: Melbourne by 35.
Brisbane Lions vs North Melbourne Kangaroos @The Gabba, Saturday 2:10pm
Stat Fact: Brisbane and North Melbourne this season have a combined 10 wins from 42 games and they sit in 18th and 17th place respectively.
Big Talking Point: If you lose this game you officially claim the Wooden Spoon, something that no team wants to have. For Brisbane a loss would mean that for the third consecutive season they’d be a bottom two team. A win is all they care about. While for North Melbourne they were playing finals footy last year so regardless of the outcome of this match for them it will be seen as an extremely disappointing season from their perspective. Nevertheless, they will still be trying hard to get a victory as well. To put it frankly both teams seasons have sucked this year, but a win for either side makes it a little easier to swallow.
What Will Happen: Brisbane have been involved in four games this season decided by 14 points or less while North Melbourne have participated in eight tight encounters. What this shows is, despite both teams respective ladder positions, on their day they are more than capable of pushing any team all the way to the edge. With the biggest game of their seasons and everything on the line, expect both teams to show up strongly for this one and contest a close game.
What Won’t Happen: Either team taking a step back. Despite the youth that resides over both teams rosters they will still care very much so about avoiding finishing last. Their will probably be a few ‘incidents’ in this game to go along with some hard-hits.
Our Tip: Brisbane by four.