Round 9 Preview
Updated: Aug 1
The Festival of Footy begins tonight - 20 straight days of games, double-headers, three entire rounds and a news cycle that will have journalists' heads spinning.
Let's just hope there are more good matches than bad ones - as a Victorian, at least footy is giving us something to look forward to...
Quick preview this week - but will edit with any new thoughts once teams start trickling in.
Western Bulldogs v Richmond
There has been a strong push for the Bulldogs today, so much so that they will likely start favourites against an undermanned Tigers line-up.
On the surface, it looks like coming down to how effectively each of the forward lines can function - Riewoldt & Lynch vs Bruce and...who? Do the Dogs need someone else to stand up and hit the scoreboard tonight? Or will they get enough out of their small forwards and midfielders to offset their lack of a genuine second marking target?
Bear in mind that the Dogs have conceded the highest number of forward 50 marks against them this year. The marking power for the Tigers is still there, so that's definitely the angle that Richmond will try and exploit tonight.
In the middle, we saw what Tim English could do against a hapless Andrew Phillips a couple of weeks in dry conditions. He was slightly less effective in the wet against the big body of Jarrod Witts, but gets the weather to suit again here and faces Ivan Soldo - we might see English play a similar game to a fortnight ago, which will take the Dogs a long way towards winning this game.
Three omissions for the Tigers and the return of Trent Cotchin ensures that the team is injected with some seriously hungry players - Ross, Markov and Stack will be keen to make an impression and stay in the side.
Tough to split the two teams in this one. As we've said before, any team with Riewoldt and Lynch has the ability to post a big enough score to win, while the Dogs have found their groove and just need to be clean offensively - finding the right options up forward might be the difference between winning and losing for them.
Pick: Western Bulldogs by 6
Melbourne v Port Adelaide
We gave Melbourne a huge chance last week vs Brisbane and they really should've saluted.
Drier conditions here, and they seem to match up well against Port Adelaide. While Port have found a way to win, the Saints showed how you can beat them with a bit of speed and some crafty small forwards - Melbourne have enough of both to challenge.
Pick: Melbourne by 2
Carlton v Hawthorn
Are the Blues due for a slight drop in output, like we've seen from so many sides this year? Beware team under the pump like Hawthorn, but it's hard to trust them at the moment.
Pick: Carlton by 10
Essendon v Brisbane
The Lions will take care of Essendon, who probably would've lost to anyone but the poor Crows last weekend. Nothing against the Bombers, but they are quickly running out of soldiers and have the most makeshift forward line in recent memory.
Pick: Brisbane by 34
North Melbourne v Adelaide
What a cracking matchup! The upside is, someone has to win.
Couldn't possibly pick the Crows, but nothing would shock. North have enough potency up forward to post a big enough score and bank the win.
Pick: North Melbourne by 18
St Kilda v Sydney
The Swans have been super brave despite so many injuries, but you think the Saints will relish the lack of a day-of-game plane trip this weekend and a nice dry Gabba deck to use their speed. Get ready for more Saints hype after this one...
Pick: St Kilda by 22
West Coast v Geelong
The match of the round here - do the Cats concede they are up against it in this one and rest a few off a short break? Does Hawkins beat his suspension?
Need to see team selection, but you'd think the confident Eagles will account for Geelong. It won't be as easy as last week though (in theory).
Pick: West Coast by 24
Gold Coast v GWS
Really looking forward to this one - the Suns are desperate for a win after dropping three of their last four, while the Giants just need some consistency.
GWS with way too many scoring options for the Suns to handle, you'd think.
Pick: GWS by 22
Fremantle v Collingwood
Beware an angry Collingwood - you have to feel for Fremantle, who have tried valiantly but just can't find a way to hit the scoreboard regularly enough.
We are treating last week as an aberration, and hoping the real Pies outfit shows up this weekend to show they are still a contender.
Pick: Collingwood by 33
Round 9 Burning Question:
Is the West Coast hype an overreaction?
Yes. Case closed.