Mallinder’s Musings for Round 15
POWER V TIGERS
At the Adelaide Oval, 7.50pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Richmond 5 Port 4 Drawn 1.
LAST TIME: R6 2016: Port 13.16 (94) def Rich 8.11 (59) at the MCG.
LAST WEEK: PA bye; Rich (117) def BL (75).
RICHMOND (6-7) has won five of its past six, but may have been led into a false sense of security, with the past four of those wins coming against the bottom four teams. Though also now 6-7, having lost its past two, Port must start favourite at home. The Power beat the Tigers at the ’G in April, despite the absence of All-Australians Robbie Gray and Chad Wingard, and will certainly want to build some momentum with games against Hawthorn, North and GWS to come. The hosts should welcome back key defender Jake Hombsch (hamstring) to battle Jack Riewoldt, while big spearhead Charlie Dixon will provide a handful for Tigers fullback Alex Rance. The midfield will need to step up though with a red-hot Dustin Martin capable of running riot for the visitors.
SUNS V SAINTS
At Metricon Stadium, Carrara, 1.40pm
RECENT RECORD: Gold Coast 3 St Kilda 5.
LAST TIME: R2 2015: StK 16.8 (104) def GC 10.16 (76) at Carrara.
LAST WEEK: StK (93) def Geel (90); GC (60) lost to Haw (86).
THE Saints are certainly on the march, having now won four of their past five following that upset over then ladder-leader Geelong. They will now head north with confidence having also beaten the Suns last time they visited. The Suns, on the other hand, have now suffered 10 straight losses – their second-worst losing streak. While the Saints have upped their disposal efficiency to a league-high 75.1%, the Suns sit 17th in that area (70.9%). That said, after impressing with an improved effort against the Hawks, the hosts are capable of spoiling the homecoming of old Gold Coast boy Nick Riewoldt, who joins Ted Whitten (212) in third spot on most games captained list. Likened to a young Riewoldt, Suns spearhead Tom Lynch could tear the game apart against a smallish Saints defence. Down the other end, Josh Bruce (one goal in two weeks) will want to recapture the form that saw him boot six goals in the teams’ last clash.
SWANS V BULLDOGS
At the SCG, 4.35pm
RECENT RECORD: Sydney 7 Bulldogs 3.
LAST TIME: R5 2015: WB 11.11 (77) def Syd 10.13 (73) at the SCG.
LAST WEEK: Syd bye; WB bye.
BOTH teams will be refreshed after their bye last week – one which the Dogs would have spent licking their wounds after the big loss to Geelong when held to just five goals. The Dogs will now be aiming to bounce back with a second straight win over the Swans in Sydney after surprising them there last year. They will welcome back stand-in skipper Easton Wood, who will no doubt lend a helping hand, or fist, to fellow defender Marcus Adams in his battle with Coleman Medal leader Lance Franklin. The visitors though will be keen to get more out of their own star forward Jake Stringer, who has kicked just six goals from his past five matches, but that won’t be easy with Ted Richards (concussion) and Jeremy Laidler (knee) due to return to the Swans defence.
BLUES V MAGPIES
At the MCG, 7.25pm
RECENT RECORD: Carlton 3 Collingwood 7.
LAST TIME: R7 2016: Carl 15.9 (99) def Coll 12.12 (84) at the MCG.
LAST WEEK: Carl (65) lost to GWS (127); Coll (85) def Frem (37).
AFTER attracting the smallest crowd to a Collingwood match at the MCG since 1940 last week, the Magpies’ battle with their old enemy will surely entice a few more through the gates. But the Blues (6-7) will look to make it two in a row against the Magpies (5-7) after winning their last encounter a couple of months back. Bryce Gibbs (30 disposals, three goals) and Patrick Cripps (29 touches, nine clearances) led the way in the middle last time and will need to step up again for the Blues with skipper Marc Murphy (ankle) and Dennis Armfield (split testicle) still sidelined. Whether Collingwood veteran Travis Cloke survives another chop or not, young Darcy Moore (fractured cheekbone), who kicked three goals last time, is set to return.
DEMONS V CROWS
At the MCG, 3.20pm
RECENT RECORD: Melbourne 4 Adelaide 6.
LAST TIME: R3 2015: Adel 12.8 (80) def Melb 7.13 (55) at Adelaide Oval.
LAST WEEK: Adel (100) def NM (67); Melb bye.
ADELAIDE (9-4) has been the best-performed team over the past month, winning its past five straight – while claiming the scalps of GWS, North and West Coast (away). The Crows can make it six in a row here with the added motivation of playing 12 months to the day since the tragic death of former coach Phil Walsh. Scott Thompson and Rory Sloane dominated through the middle last time, though ex-Crow Bernie Vince will be keen to get one back over his old teammates. The Demons’ defence could struggle to contain the Crows’ attack, which has topped 100 points for a club-record five straight weeks, with Josh Jenkins (38), Eddie Betts (35) and Taylor Walker (31) all on track for 50-goal seasons.