AFL Round 7 preview
With six rounds of the AFL season behind us, a big month lies ahead for many teams eyeing off the race to September.
Top eight hopefuls Essendon and St Kilda have been the two most disappointing teams in 2018, with both needing immediate revivals if they are to challenge for finals spots. On the other end of the spectrum, Richmond and West Coast are soaring at the top of ladder and will be expecting to consolidate this position in the next month.
Here is your preview to the three big games of Round 7.
Geelong v GWS – GMHBA Stadium, Friday 7:20pm.
The Sydney Swans proved to the competition in Round 6 that Geelong are beatable at ‘The Cattery’. Sydney came from 22 points down to be eventual winners by 17, all without superstar Buddy Franklin. GWS have similar injury issues to their stars, with Toby Greene, Josh Kelly, Rory Lobb, Jeremy Cameron and Brett Deledio all expected to miss the trip to Geelong.
GWS were far from convincing against a struggling Brisbane in Round 6, with a 34-point victory the production of poor accuracy in front of goal. They now travel to a stadium only four visiting teams (Sydney, Fremantle, North Melbourne and Melbourne) have emerged victorious from since the start of the 2008 season.
While GWS have the worsed of the injury woes, Geelong’s struggles in clearances and congested footy could see the game closer than expected.
Prediction: Geelong by 16.
Essendon v Hawthorn – MCG, Saturday 2:10pm.
2018 was supposed to be the year Essendon continued to improve, after rising from wooden spooners to elimination finalists in the space of 12 months. Instead, they have only managed two wins from six games and enter Round 7 with growing pressure mounting on coach John Worsfold.
In their first home game at the MCG this season, the Bombers will be hoping to draw on the corresponding match from 2017, in which they were 25-point winners over Hawthorn.
Tom Mitchell continues to be the key differential in most Hawthorn matches, averaging 37.3 disposals and 9.8 clearances per game, the highest in the AFL competition. In Round 5, North Melbourne were able to shut down Mitchell, and consequently were 28-point winners. If Essendon are able to do the same, whilst also igniting their talented forward line of Daniher, Hooker and Stringer, they may be able to provide the upset of the round.
Prediction: Hawthorn by 18.
West Coast v Port Adelaide – Optus Stadium, Saturday 4:35pm.
The last time these two clubs met, it was West Coast who crushed the hearts of Port Adelaide fans. In quite easily the best finals match of 2017, Luke Shuey booted a goal after the final siren in the second period of extra time to kick the Power out of the competition.
Port Adelaide have however won their last two games against the Eagles in Perth, most recently in Round 16 last year. If Port are to win, they will have to do it without star Chad Wingard, who suffered a hamstring injury in the sides 33-point win over North Melbourne.
No matter the opposition, a match at Optus Stadium has proven to be one of the toughest road trips in the AFL. Both West Coast and Fremantle have only lost once at the new home of WA footy so far, leaving Ken Hinkley’s men to find consistency away from home in 2018.
Prediction: West Coast by 8.
Remaining games in Round 7:
Western Bulldogs v Suns – Mars Stadium, Saturday 1:45pm.
Sydney v North Melbourne – SCG, Saturday 7:25pm.
Adelaide v Carlton – Adelaide Oval, Saturday 7:40pm.
Richmond v Fremantle – MCG, Sunday 1:10pm.
St Kilda v Melbourne – Etihad Stadium, Sunday 3:20pm.
Brisbane v Collingwood – Gabba, Sunday 4:40pm.