Another weekend of footy is underway!
Adelaide and Brisbane both have the bye so we have dissected the 8 games that are on show in Round 14.
See who we are tipping below.
All times AEST
Friday, 7:50pm, Metricon Stadium
Two teams with very different styles of footy will meet on Friday night in what will be a fascinating match-up. The Bulldogs want to play with pace on the footy using run and overlap to transition the ball, while the Cats take speed out of the game with possession, short ball-use and the least play-on of any team in the competition.
We have seen on a number of occasions that Geelong is able to successfully gum up teams trying to play fast on them. They completely shut down St Kilda, Brisbane and Port Adelaide and will likely take in a similar mindset against the Bulldogs. They’ll be aiming to keep the footy off them and set up behind the ball.
Key forwards tend to struggle against the Cats for this reason as the slow play allows Harry Taylor, Lachie Henderson and Tom Stewart to position themselves perfectly. However, while the Dogs will need strong performances from Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce, they are capable of hitting the scoreboard through their midfield. This will be crucial to overcoming the Geelong press.
Luke Beveridge is a crafty match-day coach and he will likely have a plan in place to make life hard for Geelong, but on exposed form it’s hard to tip against the in-form Cats in this one.
Prediction: Geelong by 11 points
Saturday, 1:45pm, Adelaide Oval
Port Adelaide and Sydney sit at opposite ends of the ladder heading into Saturday’s match.
A gritty 10-point win over Hawthorn saw the Power maintain their position at the summit of the ladder but they were far from their fluent best.
It was a less than ideal preparation for Ken Hinkley’s troops after duo Peter Ladhams and Dan Houston were suspended for breaking AFL COVID-19 protocols.
Nonetheless, Port banked another important victory with Brownlow Medal contender Travis Boak (33 disposals and nine clearances) in supreme form.
The Swans were completely stifled by Fremantle with their final score of 2.7 (19) their lowest since the club relocated to Sydney in 1982 and their lowest in 49 years.
Kicking goals has been a problem for John Longmire’s side all season with the Swans managing just one goal – the first for the night – in three dour quarters against the Dockers.
1.4 (10) was Sydney’s lowest three-quarter time score since 1964.
With Lance Franklin done for the season and Nick Blakey playing up the ground it leaves Sydney’s short on talls with Tom Papley (21) their main source for goals.
Port Adelaide should prove too strong and continue their charge towards a top two finish.
Prediction: Port Adelaide by 32 points
Saturday, 4:35pm, Optus Stadium
Saturday’s clash could very well be the last match at Optus Stadium during the home and away season and pits two contrasting styles against each other.
Justin Longmuir’s Dockers are quickly gaining a reputation as a well-structured and defensively-sound unit and that was on full display last Saturday night when they kept Sydney to just two goals for the entirety of the match.
They’ll be facing a Giants side who are in serious danger of missing the finals, which would represent a huge shock after their Grand Final appearance in 2019.
There were positives for Leon Cameron’s side in the second half against West Coast last Sunday, principally Jake Riccardi who kicked two goals and took 10 marks in his AFL debut but they were still soundly beaten in the end.
It’s been a while since these two times faced off against each other, with their last meeting coming back in April last year when Fremantle pulled off a 24-point win in Canberra.
Plenty has changed for both sides since then and this matches looms as genuinely intriguing – will Fremantle keep their good recent run going or can the Giants get their finals tilt back on track?
Prediction: Fremantle by 3 points
Saturday, 7:40pm, Traeger Park (Alice Springs)
Melbourne and St Kilda will look to bounce back from losses last time out in another critical encounter for both clubs.
The Demons’ run of three-straight wins was snapped by the Western Bulldogs with a horror third quarter leading to a 28-point loss.
Six unanswered goals from the Bulldogs blew the Dees away with coach Simon Goodwin describing the third term as the worst 20 minutes of defensive football his side has produced all year.
The defeat saw Melbourne fall to ninth on the ladder making Saturday night’s match against the Saints a must-win for their finals’ chances.
St Kilda was left to rue missed opportunities in the two-point loss to Brisbane which dented their hopes of a top-four finish.
Brett Ratten’s men were unable to land the knockout blow after dominating a frenetic final quarter with a lack of composure telling in the dying stages.
The Saints slipped to sixth, but their finals destiny is still very much in their own hands – a ninth win here would virtually sew up a top-eight finish.
Young Saint Hunter Clark will return after being managed while star Demon Max Gawn is pushing to play on Saturday night in what would be a major boost to help combat St Kilda’s ruck duo of Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder.
Expect it to be tight and tense with the Saints narrowly prevailing.
Prediction: St Kilda by 12 points
Sunday, 3:35pm, Gabba
This has been a reasonably one-sided rivalry, with Collingwood winning 10 of the last 12 clashes with Carlton, but this one feels the most significant in about a decade. The Pies are coming off a six-day break, while the Blues will have had nine days to ready themselves.
Both teams sit on the fringe of the top eight and need these four points before heading into the home stretch of the season. For the Magpies, they have been up and down in recent weeks and need all the momentum they can get. The Blues meanwhile have won their last two and likely need to beat two of Collingwood, GWS and Brisbane to play finals.
The Magpies will be without Steele Sidebottom which is a huge loss for their midfield. He has averaged 30 disposals per game against Carlton in his last four matches against them - more than any other Collingwood player.
Carlton’s midfield has been humming nicely in recent weeks, dominating both Gold Coast and Fremantle (after quarter-time) and will want to get the game on their terms by winning stoppages and locking the ball in their forward with pressure and their defensive wall.
Up the other end, Collingwood’s makeshift forward line has struggled all year to find its identity and the Blues match up well on paper. If Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones are allowed to control the air and the Pies can’t bring the ball to ground it will go a long way to a Carlton victory.
The Blues have the momentum and the style to pull off a win here, but the mature Magpies have had the wood over them in recent years and will have some confidence under their belt given how they finished off the Kangaroos. Given their low scoring nature and Carlton’s tendency to find themselves in nail biters, expect a close one.
Prediction: Collingwood by 3 points
Sunday, 6:10pm, Metricon Stadium
While all but out of the finals race, the Gold Coast Suns have a point to prove.
After an impressive restart to the season, the Suns now haven’t won a match since Round 7. While they’ve managed to put together some impressive performances in that time, the loss to Carlton in Darwin was as uncompetitive as the team has looked in 2020.
Stuart Dew’s young brigade may be starting to tire but they’ll be hoping to show the football world they’ve learnt lessons from 2019, when they failed to record a victory in the second half of the year.
North Melbourne’s 2020 has perhaps been underwhelming compared to the instant form shot Rhyce Shaw brought when he took over as senior coach midway through last season, but they have been competitive at times.
With a tough run home ahead of a big off-season for the club, this might be the last opportunity for the Kangaroos to put another win on the board and restore some of the optimism that surrounded the club not so long ago.
Returning to Metricon after an extra three days of rest, the Suns should do enough to grab the four points.
Prediction: Gold Coast by 13 points