Fremantle v Geelong
Geelong -2.5 @ 1.88
The Cats haven’t been respected by the odds here, and it’s hard to see why considering they are one of the in-form teams of the competition, winning 8 of their last 9 including scalps against Port Adelaide and the Bulldogs in that period. They will lose key players in Rohan and Henderson for this clash, putting them on the sideline with Cameron and Duncan, but they will regain skipper Joel Selwood and they should have the depth to cover those losses across the board.
The Dockers managed to cling onto a spot in the eight after Richmond and the Giants both lost games that they were favorites to win. They have won 3 of their last 4, with wins coming against the Hawks, Pies and Suns, and losing by 28 and 46 prior to that to the Bulldogs and the Power respectively. Sean Darcy has had a breakout season this year and will be pivotal if Fremantle are to nab a win. To put it in perspective, he averages 118.8 supercoach points this season compared to 78.2 last season. He comes up against a solid ruckman in Stanley and will get a chance to flex his muscles once again.
Geelong are in the top handful of teams going right now, and even with their injuries, I think they should comfortably take care of the Dockers away from home, especially considering that Fremantle are 1-5 against teams currently in the top 8, with the sole win being a 2-point victory over the Swans.
St Kilda v Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide -2.5 @ 1.91
Port Adelaide suffered a major loss against the Demons, in what would have put them in the top 4 and built their confidence against the best team in the league, but instead ended with a 31 point defeat. They won 3 in a row prior to that, but they seem to struggle against the top teams in the competition, being 2-5 against teams in the top 8.
The Saints solidified their two wins against the Tigers and the Pies with a huge 32 point win over the Lions, putting them outside the 8 only by percentage. Jack Steele was massive with 32 disposals and 2 goals, as was Max King in the forward line with 10 marks and 3 goals. They still have quite a number of key players sitting on the sideline in Clark, Coffield, Geary, Gresham and Higgins, but have found a way to push through and put themselves in contention.
This should be the match of the round if last weeks Saints show up, but even if they do, I expect the Power to win this matchup as the better side. I wouldn’t be surprised with a St Kilda victory, but the Power should bounce back with the risk of falling out of top 4 contention very present.
North Melbourne v Essendon
Essendon HT/FT Double @ 1.6
The Bombers bounced back from their 41 point loss against Geelong with a 63 point win over Adelaide, keeping them to their lowest ever score of 21. Zach Merrett had another stellar game with 35 disposals, as was Jordan Ridley with 23 disposals and 11 marks. Perkins also put forth the best game of his career with 18 disposals and 3 goals.
North Melbourne caused a huge upset over the weekend, beating the Eagles in Perth after trailing by two goals halfway through the last quarter. They have now only lost 2 of their last 5 (draw in round 13), being a much improved team of late then they were at the start of the season. Jaidyn Stephenson had his best game as a Kangaroo with 38 disposals and a goal, whilst Simpkin (32 disposals) and Cunnington (25 disposals, 1 goal) were solid in the middle.
North Melbourne are much improved of late and should be competitive in this matchup, but the Bombers should be leading throughout and sail through unscathed.