AFL ROUND 15
MELBOURNE v SYDNEY
Melbourne gets a gig this Friday night for the first time since 2012 and how appropriate with the Dees in red hot form winning the last four games. The best of those wins was last week in Perth against the Eagles where they trailed by as much as 16 points late in the game and with injuries and overcame the odds. This is a team that is now believing in itself.
Their opponents on Friday night are Sydney who like Melbourne stole a late win. In fact Sydney had no right winning that game but will be feeling good about themselves after the great escape.
The home side has a few issues heading into this game. They are again off a short break for the third week in a row and travelling back from Perth, the six day break is not ideal. The short break has meant Jeff Garlett won't play after injuring himself in Perth. Jack Watts and Jesse Hogan will also miss another week. Classy half back Christian Salem is out for a month with a hamstring. So the Dees have more injury worries which have plagued them for most of the season. The fact that they are in the top eight with the injuries and suspensions they have had this season goes to show how a good side they can be. That said they are up against it this week. The Swans will regain a couple quality players in Zak Jones and most likely Jarrad McVeigh.
In a perfect world with no injuries i would fancy Melbourne's chances here but i think they are starting to lose a few to many players and last weeks win will have surely taken it's toll and the Swans are a physical side so probably not the match up the Dees wanted this week.
The Swans started the week slight outsiders in the betting but I expect them to start clear faves come Friday night.
WESTERN BULLDOGS v WEST COAST
Western Bulldogs host West Coast at Etihad on Saturday. The Doggies were very lucky in the end last week. They were in control for majority of last weeks win against North Melbourne but then stopped in the last ten mins and fell in when the final siren sounded.
One of the main concerns for the Dogs this year is they are constantly making changes every week through injuries. Last year they played with a settled side through the finals and it showed. This week Liberatore goes out through injury, but they do regain inspirational skipper Bob Murphy.
The Eagles lost a game they had in the bag with ten mins to go last week against the Demons. To make matter worse they have lost captain Shannon Hurn, Brownlow Medalist Matt Priddis, Josh Hill and Will Schofield. Josh Kennedy and Mark Le Cras will again miss through injury. To be missing so many key players for a trip to Melbourne is not ideal for the Eagles. Their performances in Melbourne this year have been well documented. They have copped hidings from Hawthorn and Essendon, lost to Richmond and had comfortable first round win against a depleted North Melbourne. Simply the Eagles are awful when on the road. Don't forget the Eagles also lost to the Suns on the Gold Coast a few weeks back.
Hard to see the Dogs losing this game. They have been a shadow of last years Premiership team but they should have enough class to overcome a West Coast side that is missing plenty and hate catching the plane to Melbourne. The line for this game started at -12.5 for the home side but as we speak is all the way up to -22.5. I'm not that keen on taking the Dogs at that line as they have rarely beaten up on a side this year. I would prefer to take them at the margin of 1-39 and lets hope the Eagles can show a bit of fight on their travels.
CARLTON v ADELAIDE
Carlton get another chance to show their wares against one of the top sides when they play Adelaide at the MCG this Saturday.
Carlton have been super impressive this season when most experts had them finishing in the bottom two. They have snared some big wins against the likes of GWS, Essendon, Sydney and Collingwood this season. Richmond had to work extra hard to beat the Blues by four goals last week and let's not forget Carlton were one short on the bench for majority of the match after Jed Lamb was knocked out. Simply the Blues are well drilled and well structured under coach Bolton and the players are giving 100% every game.
The Crows were disgraceful last week. They sat back and expected it to happen against a Hawthorn side they had beaten early in the year. Instead they were outsmarted by Clarkson. Brendan Bolton is a Clarkson prodigy and will have done plenty of homework on how the Hawks dismantled Adelaide.
Adelaide have lost a couple key players for this game. Hard working forward Tom Lynch is missing while speedster Charlie Cameron is also out. They do regain Mitch McGovern up forward who has been missing for a couple months with injury.
I expect Adelaide to come out fired up after last weeks poor performance. Rory Sloane is a major worry for them and they will be happy to know Ed Curnow the man most likely to tag him is out for Carlton. If Sloane has a poor game the Crows really do struggle to generate drive out of the middle. Carlton on the other hand have got three A graders rolling through the middle in Murphy - Gibbs and Cripps.
I'm going to go with the home side here with a four goal start. One thing you know with Carlton is they will make life extra tough for Adelaide. Worth also having something on them at the margin of 1-39.
GOLD COAST v NORTH MELBOURNE
Gold Coast and North Melbourne play each other for the second time this season up in Queensland this time. North got the chocolates earlier in the season at Etihad in one of only four wins they have had for the season. Like most of the season North were right in the contest last week but couldn't get the job done late. They could have won a few more games this year with a bit more luck and class. They will be missing key mid Ben Cunnington for this clash and Jack Ziebell is carrying a shoulder injury but should play.
The home side was fair in losing to St Kilda last week and will be delighted to regain champion midfielder Gary Ablett. We can expect the little champ to set himself for a big match as this is game 300. Steven May will also play game 100. If these two have big games as they normally do the Suns will be hard to beat. The Suns are far from full strength with Hall, Barlow,Matera, Kolodjashni all missing but they do regain Ablett and Matt Rosa.
Trying to predict the Suns this year is almost impossible. They lack consistency in every thing they do. Having said all that i think they would be well aware that this weeks game is a must win or their finals chances are over. Captain Tom Lynch is well overdue for a big game and you expect and hope the players will lift for Ablett in his 300th game.
North without Cunnington winning contested ball look fragile and Ziebell carrying an injury isn't ideal either.
Go with the home side to get the job done and keep their season alive.
GWS v GEELONG
GWS are back at home this Saturday night when they take on Geelong. These two sides should finish the season in the top four which is a great effort considering both sides have had plenty of injuries to deal with in season 2017. The Giants especially have been ravaged and are still 4-5 players short of fielding the best 22.
Geelong had a courageous win last week over Fremantle at home. After losing inspirational skipper Joel Selwood in the first few mins of the game and then down by six goals it was a win that was full of merit but probably also took plenty of juice out of the players tanks and they also have a six day back up.
The Giants had a comfortable win against the bottom side Brisbane last weekend and they started to really flex their muscles in the second half. They regain key mid Josh Kelly for this clash as well as classy Devon Smith while Selwood is still 50/50 for the game and will be given right up till the day of the game.
The Cats have had a few issues with sides with pace this year - Essendon and Collingwood made light work of them and even the Suns got a hold of them this year. I sense the Giants come into this game refreshed with an easy win last week and the bye before that. The Cats may well be ripe for the picking here with Selwood in doubt and a tough win last week.
Lets see if the Giants can make a statement here against a top four side.
GWS -19.53 at 1.85-3
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI Round Eighteen +3.01 15 20% Round Seventeen +9.88 16 62% Round Sixteen -4.05 15 -27% Round Fifteen +0.12 13 1% Round Fourteen -2.48 15 -17% Round Thirteen +1.93 5 39% Round Twelve -6.3 14 -45% Round Eleven -2.1 9 -23% Round Ten -5.26 10 -53% Round Nine +4 11 36% Round Eight +10.01 9 111% Round Seven -10.26 17 -60% Round Six -2.4 14 -17% Round Five -12.3 18 -68% Round Four -5.21 11 -47% Round Three -1.16 10 -12% Round Two -11 11 -100% Round One -0.27 6 -5% Total -33.84 219 -15%