ROOS V HAWKS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 7.50pm
RECENT RECORD: North 3 Hawthorn 7
LAST TIME: R5 2015: Haw 19.16 (130) def NM 10.10 (70) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: NM (74) lost to Geel (105); Haw (151) def Ess (43)
LADDER-leader North Melbourne is desperate for a major scalp, but not sure it will come here against a side it has lost to five of the past six times they’ve met, and with so many stars under injury clouds, starting with onballers Andrew Swallow (concussion), Ben Cunnington (thigh) and Nick Dal Santo (adductor). Having gotten its game going in the big win over Essendon, Hawthorn, on the other hand, will welcome ball magnet Sam Mitchell (back), who was best-afield last time, small defender Taylor Duryea (hip) and ruckman Jon Ceglar (suspension) after putting their feet up last week.
LIONS V EAGLES
At the Gabba, Brisbane, 1.40pm
RECENT RECORD: Brisbane 4 West Coast 6
LAST TIME: R1 2016: WC 26.10 (166) def BL 15.12 (102) at Subiaco
LAST WEEK: BL (64) lost to Frem (147); WC (76) lost to Adel (105)
IT MAY be more than 4000km away, but the Eagles should enjoy flying to the Gabba after their capitulation at home to the Crows. Their last quarter was simply pointless ... literally, after leading by 26 points. Its record away in the past 12 months hasn’t been great, but West Coast has won its past three in Brisbane, among five straight wins over the Lions, who were mauled by the other WA mob last week. Lions big man Stef Martin can find some form in the absence of Nic Naitanui (achilles), but the hosts are unlikely to capitalise enough to register the four points. Josh Kennedy (eight goals) and Matt Priddis (43 disposals) dominated the teams’ season-opening clash.
DOCKERS V POWER
At Domain Stadium, Perth, 4.35pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Fremantle 7 Port 3
LAST TIME: R23 2015: PA 18.14 (122) def Frem 8.5 (53) in Adelaide
LAST WEEK: Frem (147) def BL (64); PA (97) lost to WB (100)
PORT Adelaide will be hating on Essendon and Brisbane, who have run the previously struggling Fremantle into form, winning its past two by a combined 162 points. Even the much-maligned Matt Taberner (five goals last week) is up and about, and he should be rejoined by veteran Matthew Pavlich (groin) this week. With both teams’ defences badly weakened, the match could develop into a shootout – and one the Power (at the crossroads at 6-6) will desperately need to win, which is why it’s keen to load up with Jay Schulz (back), alongside Charlie Dixon and Chad Wingard in its own attack.
BULLDOGS V CATS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 7.25pm
RECENT RECORD: Bulldogs 1 Geelong 9
LAST TIME: R16 2015: Geel 10.12 (72) def WB 9.10 (64) in Geelong
LAST WEEK: Geel (105) def NM (74); WB (100) def PA (97)
UNDER the roof at Docklands will it be raining cats or dogs? A lot could depend on Bulldogs stopper Mitch Wallis, who surely must spend more time minding Paddy Dangerfield than Sam Gibson did last week (when Danger gathered a season-high 48 disposals). Both Cats spearhead Tom Hawkins and Dogs fullback Marcus Adams (ankle) will return to match up on each other, but the battle in the middle will be the highlight, with clearance specialists including Dogs Tom Liberatore and Cats skipper Joel Selwood going head to head. The Dogs are still down on manpower though, made worse by Luke Dahlhaus’ knee injury, and it could mean the Cats win a ninth in a row against them.
SWANS V DEMONS
At the SCG, 1.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Sydney 8 Melb 1 Drawn 1
LAST TIME: R6 2015: Syd 12.16 (88) def Melb 7.8 (50) at the MCG
LAST WEEK: Syd (63) lost to GWS (105); Melb (104) def Coll (58)
SYDNEY (8-3) will be a little anxious going into this clash with no Kurt Tippett and its powerful midfield run ragged by the fleet-footed Giants. The Demons present another young side full of energy, led by giant ruckman Max Gawn, coming off a 27-disposal, three-goal game. Good luck to Callum Sinclair. Dees fullback Tom McDonald will also present problems for Lance Franklin, who’s kicked one goal in his past two games against Demons. The Swans must start favourite though – they’ve won their past four against the Demons and haven’t lost to them in Sydney since 2006. Then there’s the little matter of Demon inconsistency.
BOMBERS V GIANTS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 4.40pm
RECENT RECORD: Essendon 4 GWS 1
LAST TIME: R19 2015: GWS 14.9 (93) def Ess 8.13 (61) in Sydney
LAST WEEK: Ess (43) lost to Haw (151); GWS (105) def Syd (63)
AFTER two defeats in a row, GWS returned to form in the best possible way, proving harder and faster than the might of its cross-town rival. It won the contested ball 159-139 and clearances 41-35 against Sydney. The Giants (8-4) can now look forward to what should be a comfortable month ahead, starting with Essendon and followed by Carlton, Collingwood and Brisbane. There’s to be no reunion of old Cats in Steve Johnson and Bombers Matty Stokes and James Kelly, with Stevie J to be rested, but the Giants could rest half their side and still record a fifth win in seven trips to Docklands.
BYES: Adelaide, Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda, Carlton, Collingwood
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