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West Coast v Geelong
Geelong looked to be firm favourites at the start of the week for this match-up but after Cats spearhead Tom Hawkins was handed a one-match suspension for a jumper punch, an Eagles home game should balance the sides out.
The Eagles are still waiting for their dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy to return from his calf injury, and after three-straight defeats West Coast have gone from a top-two contending side to slipping into the clump of sides fighting for a finals spot.
West Coast’s midfield continues to produce poor performances and with the likes of Paddy Dangerfield and Joel Selwood on the ball for Geelong the Eagles will have to produce something close to a miracle to keep Geelong’s rovers quiet.
Despite missing Tom Hawkins, Geelong should be able to get over the line with defender-cum-forward Harry Taylor playing inside the Eagles’ 50 to provide more firepower.
Prediction: Geelong @ $1.80
North Melbourne v St Kilda
Both sides have had impressive Friday Night Football victories but have gone on to slump in form.
The Saints got home against Greater Western Sydney in round seven’s Friday Night Football, in what looked like a statement – only to go on and lose three in a row.
The Roos provided a Friday Night showcase against the reigning premiers and lead by 29 points only to be caught late in the game.
St Kilda’s finals hope are already slim but if they lose their seventh consecutive meeting with the Kangaroos they can kiss finals goodbye.
The Saints welcome back skipper Nick Riewoldt from injury (knee bone bruising) which is a major boost for the side. Veteran Leigh Montagna will have a point to prove after Dermott Brereton criticized his ball-winning abilities. The defender has averaged just four contested possessions in his past seven games.
The return of Nick Riewoldt will be pivotal for the Saints and they should get home.
Prediction: St Kilda @ $1.84
Sydney Swans v Hawthorn
After starting the season with six straight losses, the Swans have dragged themselves back into finals contention with a strong month of football putting them at 4-7.
Sydney come up against a well-rested Richmond side coming back from their bye-round.
The Tigers have a chance to challenge for the top-four with the likes of Port Adelaide and the Bulldogs missing the opportunity last week.
Richmond headed into the bye-round with strong results against Essendon and North Melbourne, with Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin proving why they’re AFL elites.
The last time these sides met the Swans had cleaned em’ up by half-time. They kicked 14 goals to one to lead by 81 points at the main break with Buddy Franklin finishing with 17 kicks, 11 marks and seven goals.
The exciting match-up for any football fan will be the competitions best defender against the comps most feared forward – Alex Rance on Lance Franklin.
With Buddy and Sam Reid causing headaches upfront, the Swans should be able to shake-off the challenge with a close-margin win.
Prediction: Swans 1-39
Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne
The reigning premiers will be looking to bounce back after an abysmal performance which saw them crumble against Sydney last Thursday.
The Dogs have now lost three of the last four matches and are hanging by a thread to stay in the top-eight.
However, the return to Etihad Stadium, a ground they haven’t been defeated on yet this season.
The Demons will be in higher spirits coming off an impressive Queen’s Birthday win over Collingwood.
The Dees are now on two-wins in a row and sit comfortably in sixth and to make things even better All-Australian ruckman Max Gawn is set to return for his first game since round three.
The Bulldogs perform well in the midfield with the likes of Marcus Bontempelli collecting 33 disposals last week along with six inside 50’s and eight clearances.
History will also be on the premiers’ side having won nine of their past ten meetings, including a 98-point win in 2015.
The Bulldogs will want to prove their critics that they deserve a spot in the top-eight and they’ll do just that with a win over Melbourne.
Prediction: Western Bulldogs 1-39