AFL Round 10 preview
It’s going to be another intense weekend of AFL footy; pop on your seat belts, this could get bumpy.
Here are the three big games of the round.
Collingwood v Western Bulldogs – Etihad Stadium, Friday 7:20pm.
With both teams currently chasing the top eight, Friday night’s clash is poised to be a definer in the seasons of Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs.
Nathan Buckley’s Pies have been a surprise package in season 2018, but stringing consecutive wins together has been a struggle in the last five weeks. Collingwood have also lost four of their last five fixtures against the Bulldogs, a form line that suggests the match will be a lot closer than most anticipate.
The Bulldogs had a three-game winning streak end last round, as they went down to the Adelaide Crows in apocalyptic conditions, managing their lowest score (26 points) since Round 16, 1996. They will take comfort in returning to Etihad Stadium this week, a ground they have won three of four games at so far this season.
Player to watch – Jordan De Goey. After kicking six goals against St Kilda last week, and five against Brisbane in Round 7, it is clear De Goey is key to a firing Collingwood forward line. The Collingwood star is also out of contract at the end of the season and, as more rival clubs begin to circle, more consistent performances from the 22-year-old could demand substantial contract talks at season’s end.
GWS v Essendon – Spotless Stadium, Saturday 7:25pm.
After three straight losses, the last thing GWS need is a match up against a confident Essendon who defeated Geelong in Round 9.
GWS welcome back star midfielder Josh Kelly, but still host arguably the worst injury list in the AFL, with Phil Davis, Toby Greene, Brett Deledio and Tom Scully still on the sidelines. If GWS want to play in the finals in 2018, they must prove they can win without their stars. A defeat to Essendon on Saturday night would see the club lose four straight for the first time since 2014.
Despite a woeful start to 2018, Essendon only sit two wins outside the top eight on 12 points, such is the even nature of the AFL competition. The nothing-to-lose attitude shown against Geelong last week will be the key to their finals run this year, abolishing the game plan attempted by John Worsfold at the beginning of the season, and playing to the potential of a star-studded roster.
Player to watch – Devon Smith. The key recruit was traded by GWS at the end of last season and will face his old club for the first time. Smith has been one of Essendon’s consistent performers, averaging 4.9 score involvements per game and leading the competition in tackles (75). If Smith can fire, he could help dominate a young and inexperienced GWS defence.
Melbourne v Adelaide – TIO Traeger Stadium, Sunday 2:50pm.
In the unofficial opener to Indigenous Round (which is actually next week), the Demons face the Crows in Alice Springs.
After a shaky start to 2018, Melbourne have risen to four straight wins, and now sit third on the ladder with a healthy percentage (127%). They now face the Adelaide Crows at the perfect time, away from the Adelaide Oval and without Taylor Walker, Rory Sloane or Brad Crouch. The Demons missed the finals last season in the cruellest of ways, but this could be the year Melbourne return to finals football for the first time since 2006.
Adelaide will again be hamstrung with injuries this round; however, Don Pike’s men still sit within the top four, a scary prospect for what the team could do when they are at full strength.
Player to watch – Jake Lever. Faces the team he requested to be traded from at the end of last season. Lever left many of the Crows’ inner sanctum fuming with his departure, included Crows captain Taylor Walker, who went on record to say Lever had chosen money over success. Lever has been below his best in 2018. Could this be the spark he needed to perform?
Remaining Round 10 fixtures:
Richmond v St Kilda – MCG, Saturday 1:45pm.
Brisbane v Sydney Swans – The Gabba, Saturday 4:35pm.
Geelong v Carlton – GMHBA Stadium, Saturday 7:25pm.
Hawthorn v West Coast – Etihad Stadium, Sunday 1:10pm.
Fremantle v North Melbourne – Optus Stadium, Sunday 2:40pm.
Gold Coast Suns, Port Adelaide.