AFL ROUND 17
GEELONG v HAWTHORN
Geelong and Hawthorn who have had so many great battles over the years - meet for the second time this year at the MCG on Saturday afternoon. The first addition this year on Easter Monday ended up being a rare one sided game with the Cats having a huge win by 86 points after having a huge last quarter.
The Hawks have improved dramatically since that game and in fact in the last month and a bit they have had wins over the Swans in Sydney. The Crows in Adelaide and last week they had a thrilling draw with Premiership faves GWS. That's a very impressive form line especially considering Alastair Clarkson has been blooding some new faces. This week we also had their inspirational leader Luke Hodge announce he will retire at seasons end and plays his 300th game on Saturday and you can expect this game to be another ripper between these two sides.
The Cats had an easy kill over the young Lions side last week and with a couple handy in's this week in Daniel Melzel and Scott Selwood they look as strong as they have on paper all year.
Geelong can ill afford to drop games if they want to stay in the top four and they probably posses a little more class and experience through the 22 players on either side.
I fully expect the Hawks to throw everything at Geelong here but I'm going to take the Cats to finish in front in a tight affair and will take the Cats at the margin 1-39.
Geelong 1-392 at 2.20+2.4
PORT ADELAIDE v NORTH MELBOURNE
Port Adelaide fresh off a big win over West Coast in Perth are back home this week against North Melbourne. Port have the opportunity here to establish themselves in the top 8 with a win here and even better with a big win improve their percentage which is already healthy.
Up until there last game at home when they lost to Richmond the Power have been excellent at Adelaide Oval. The long ground suits there fast moving style and they have good pace around the flanks. They have also been good at beating up on the bottom sides this year.
North had a bad loss last week to Fremantle at Etihad. It was very sub standard game and the Kangas had the chance to steal it late but struggling ruck Todd Goldstein missed a shot right in front. They were second best for the majority of the match and in a season where North have been very competitive in the majority of their games the last month they have started to look tired and lacking in depth.
North are still missing Mason Wood - Jamie McMillan and Jarrad Waite all very important players in a struggling side. They have Trent Dumont out from last week with another newcomer into the side. Looks a lot like Brad Scott has decided to see what he has left on the list and I am staggered Majak Daw is still in the side after last weeks average effort.
With the weather predicted to be fine I can see Port with plenty to play for being far too good for a North side who seems to be losing interest and key players as a long season starts to drag out for them.
Take Port at the mids and 40+ margin.
Port Adelaide -35.53 at 1.92+2.76
Port Adelaide 40+2 at 2.07+2.14
MELBOURNE v ADELAIDE
Melbourne hosts Adelaide on Saturday night in their annual Darwin game. The Dees enter the game after a hard fought and some what fortunate win over Carlton. The Crows destroyed the Western Bulldogs last Friday night.
An important factor for this game seeing as it will be played in much warmer conditions than these sides have faced all year is the fact that the Crows will be coming in with an eight day break while the Dees will be off a six day break.
The Dees are still missing Nathan Jones - Jack Viney - Dom Tyson and Christian Salem from the midfield and they were well beaten in the middle by Carlton last week. The Crows will be expecting Bernie Vince to tag Rory Sloane like he did earlier in the season when the Demons had an outstanding win in Adelaide.
If the Crows can win enough quality ball through the middle from the Couch brothers and contributions from Rory Sloane - Richard Douglas and Rory Atkins they should be able to provide enough ball for the likes of Walker, Betts, McGovern, Jenkins, Cameron and Tom Lynch who is set to return. The Dees have being using Tom McDonald forward with good effect in the last month but they might miss him down back this week against such a dangerous Crows line up.
Even though the Dees have already got the better of Adelaide this year I fancy the Crows to turn the tables here against a Dees side that has to many quality components missing.
I suggest taking Adelaide at the minus 18.5.
CARLTON v WESTERN BULLDOGS
The Cinderella story of season 2016 the Western Bulldogs have had a massive reality check in season 2017. They started the season winning games coming from behind but the second half of the season they have been totally dire and have only one game in the last month and they was by a point against North Melbourne.
The Dogs were such a tough unit last year but in the last few weeks they have lost to Adelaide by 59 got beaten by West Coast in Melbourne and got touched up by 57 points by the Demons. They continue to make three to four changes ever¥ week and the fact they can't get a settled 22 on the field has taken its toll.
The Blues can consider themselves very stiff not to win last week. They had the Dees for the taking but lost key mid Patrick Cripps before half time and were down to a bench of two for the second half of the game.
The one thing you know with Carlton in season 2017 is they will play an honest game and make it hard for the opposition. Cripps is a huge a loss and on the back of young star defender Caleb Marchbank also out injured the Blues depth is now getting tested. The Dogs get captain Robert Murphy back but have lost key defender Easton Wood and Matty Body.
I had the betting very close in this game and was surprised to see the Blues getting a couple goals start. This is just the second game at the MCG for the Dogs this year while the Blues have played a handful of games there this year.
I have to be with Carlton here - they will make it a tough dour game and the Dogs have been struggling to kick a score all season. Take the Blues at the line and something on them at the margin 1-39 and hope they have a bit more luck than last week.
Carlton +13.52 at 1.90-2
Carlton 1-391 at 3.30-1
FREMANTLE v WEST COAST
The Western Derby is the late game on Sunday. The Eagles have won the last four clashes between the Perth rivals and enter this game as $1.45 faves.
If West Coast harbour any thoughts of playing finals footy this year then this is a must win for them. After having a morale boosting win in Melbourne a fortnight ago they undid all the good work by giving up a five goal lead against Port and were totally over run in the second half to lose by five goals.
The Dockers had a much deserved win over North at Etihad - although they did there best to lose it late and had it not been for the brilliant debut of Ryan Nyhuis they probably don't win.
The Dockers should get David Mundy back this week which will add steel and class to their side but the most important inclusion for the Derby will be the Eagles regaining Josh Kennedy.
Anyone who had the misfortune to watch the North Melb / Free game last week would agree that neither side was particularly good. If the Dockers put up a performance like that against West Coast I feel they could be in for a long day. Freo just seem lacking in options up forward while the Eagles have Kennedy - Darling - Le Cras and Cripps. With a question mark over the Dockers full back Joel Hamling playing as well.
The Eagles were far too good when these sides played early in the year and I expect a repeat result here.
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%