Mallinder's Musings for round 22
EAGLES V HAWKS
At Domain Stadium, Perth, 8.10pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: West Coast 2 Hawthorn 8
LAST TIME: R2 2016: Hawthorn 14.15 (99) def West Coast 7.11 (53) at the MCG
LAST ROUND: Haw (96) def NM (57); WC (97) def GWS (96)
WEST Coast has won 15 of its past 16 games at Subiaco, but ladder-leading Hawthorn will provide a stern test. The Hawks got to know the ground well last season, playing back-to-back finals there as well as a home-and-away clash a month earlier, for two wins and a loss. The Hawks have also built a psychological edge over the Eagles, winning their last two clashes by 46 points in both games. One of the keys has been stifling the supply to Coleman Medal leader Josh Kennedy, who's kicked just one goal in those games. Josh Gibson (44 touches) and Sam Mitchell (37) were almost impenetrable last time across halfback.
KANGAROOS V SWANS
At Blundstone Arena, Hobart, 1.45pm
RECENT RECORD: North 2 Sydney 8
LAST TIME: R10 2016: Sydney 14.7 (92) d North 9.11 (65) at the SCG
LAST ROUND: NM (57) lost to Haw (96); Syd (146) def StK (76)
SYDNEY is looking every bit the premiership favourite after four successive wins, the last three by 90, 67 and 70 points, and it heads to Tassie having never been beaten down there and having won 11 of its past 13 against North. The Roos, meanwhile, are going to be lucky to hold on to their position in the eight, having lost eight of their past 11. In dire straits, they will be desperate to have Ben Brown, Scott Thompson and Shaun Higgins back ASAP. The last time Lance Franklin played North down in the Apple Isle he booted 13 goals. Roo fullback Robbie Tarrant has a big job.
TIGERS V SAINTS
At the MCG, 2.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Richmond 6 St Kilda 3 Drawn 1
LAST TIME: R16 2015: Richmond 13.11 (89) d St Kilda 10.13 (73) at Docklands
LAST ROUND: Rich (78) lost to Geel (82); StK (76) lost to Syd (146)
FORGET the fact Richmond led Geelong by 35 points at three-quarter time last week and St Kilda went down by 70 against Sydney, the Saints should end a six-match losing streak against the Tigers. Brett Deledio has been the star the past two occasions (54 disposals, five goals, five Brownlow votes) but of course is still missing for the Tigers with a calf injury. The two sides kicked a combined three goals to 13 in their respective final quarters last week. Let's see how they finish off this week.
GIANTS V DOCKERS
At Spotless Stadium, Sydney, 4.35pm
RECENT RECORD: GWS 1 Fremantle 4
LAST TIME: R7 2016: GWS 14.11 (95) def Fremantle 11.11 (77) at Subiaco
LAST ROUND: GWS (96) lost to WC (97); Frem (70) lost to Adel (142)
AFTER letting their match against West Coast slip last week, and falling out of the top four, the Giants (14-6) will be keen to take out their frustration on another visiting WA outfit. It'll be the first time in six meetings they will have met anywhere other than Subiaco. GWS won the last in Perth with prime-movers Stephen Coniglio and Callan Ward sharing 63 possessions and 13 tackles. Matthew Pavlich won't make the trip over, to rest for his round-23 farewell match. Fremantle is ranked last for inside 50s, the Giants equal-first.
POWER V CROWS
At Adelaide Oval, 7.40pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Port 4 Adelaide 6
LAST TIME: R2 2016: Adelaide 22.12 (144) def Port 11.20 (86) at Adelaide Oval
LAST ROUND: PA (54) lost to Melb (94); Adel (142) def Frem (70)
ADELAIDE has tuned up for Showdown 40 with three successive wins over the three bottom teams totalling 292 points. The third-placed Crows (15-5) have kicked a whopping 70 goals. They'll look to maintain the rage against an arch rival (9-11) now out of finals contention. They'll be boosted by the return of No.1 ruckman Sam Jacobs (ankle) while the Power will miss at least one star forward in Chad Wingard (hamstring), maybe two in Charlie Dixon (ankle).
MAGPIES V SUNS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 7.25pm
RECENT RECORD: Collingwood 5 Gold Coast 2
LAST TIME: R8 2015: Collingwood 20.12 (132) def Gold Coast 9.9 (63) at Carrara
LAST ROUND: Coll (92) lost to WB (95); GC (69) lost to Ess (75)
AS IT will be the first clash between the clubs at Docklands, one of Collingwood (8-12) and Gold Coast (6-14) will compete their first win at the venue in two years ... barring a draw of course, which it could be. Both teams have, after all, been playing some thrillers of late. The Suns' cause will be helped by the Magpies missing key defender Ben Reid (knee) and midfielder Taylor Adams (ankle), while Tom Lynch and Steven May look to have the measure of Nathan Brown and young Darcy Moore, respectively.
BLUES V DEMONS
At the MCG, 1.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Carlton 8 Melbourne 2
LAST TIME: R21 2015: Carlton 12.6 (78) def Melbourne 7.13 (55) at the MCG
LAST ROUND: Carl (95) lost to BL (99); Melb (94) def PA (54)
SYDNEY can do ninth-placed Melbourne (10-10) a favour by beating North and keeping eighth spot open. But, regardless of whether their season remains alive, the Demons are almost the league's form side on the back of a domination in clearances and should win a fourth straight game for the just the first time in 10 years while inflicting a 10th straight loss on Carlton (6-14). Incredibly, the Dees have done it without much input from spearhead Jesse Hogan over the last month. He's kicked five behinds in that time.
LIONS V CATS
At the Gabba, Brisbane, 3.20pm
RECENT RECORD: Brisbane 1 Geelong 9
LAST TIME: R3 2016: Geelong 18.17 (125) d Brisbane 7.14 (56) in Geelong
LAST ROUND: BL (99) def Carl (95); Geel (82) def Rich (78)
AFTER their scare last week, the Cats (15-5) will be wary of the Lions (3-17). But they should still complete a sixth straight win against them, 16th from 18 outings, and fifth from six trips north. Geelong remains No.1 for marks inside forward-50m, while the Lions have conceded more than other team. The Cats' cause will only be aided if half-forwards Daniel Menzel (groin) and Nakia Cockatoo (knee) return. As he's done in his previous 99, Dayne Zorko will give his all for the Lions in his 100th game.
BOMBERS V BULLDOGS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 4.40pm
RECENT RECORD: Essendon 7 Bulldogs 3
LAST TIME: R18 2015: Bulldogs 19.13 (127) def Essendon 5.10 (40) at Docklands
LAST ROUND: Ess (75) def GC (69); WB (95) def Coll (92)
EXPECT the Bombers (2-18) to come crashing back to earth after their drought-breaking win over the Gold Coast. A victory is far too important for the seventh-placed Bulldogs (14-6), who still harbour hopes of finishing in the top four. Jake Stringer will also be hoping for a big outing, after kicking just four goals from his past four games and coming under fire for his "bruise-free” footy. He booted four goals last time. Essendon veteran Adam Cooney will want to go out a winner, but might have to settle for seeing his old side triumph.