Geelong Cats v Western Bulldogs
7.50pm (AEST), Friday, May 19 @ Simonds Stadium
Teams: Scott Selwood and Lachie Henderson are likely to come back into the Geelong line-up. Dale Morris, Travis Cloke and Jordan Roughead are in the frame to return from injury for Western Bulldogs.
History: The Cats have won 100 games to the Bulldogs’ 55, with 2 drawn. The Cats would at Etihad and Simonds Stadium last year by comfortable margins.
Form: The 5-3 Cats have slipped to fifth on the ladder after losing three straight games to the Magpies, Suns and Bombers. The Bulldogs are also 5-3 and have dropped to eighth, losing narrowly to the Giants and Eagles either side of a tight win over the Tigers.
Stats: The Cats have won their last 10 – and 14 of the last 15 – against the Bulldogs. Eight of the Cats’ last 10 wins over the Bulldogs have been by 20+ points. The Bulldogs have not won at Simonds Stadium since 2003. Four of the Bulldogs’ last 5 games were decided by 8 points or less. The Cats have won 11 of their last 12 at Simonds Stadium. The Bulldogs are 0-3 in 2017 away from the main Melbourne city grounds.
Final Thoughts: Geelong started 2017 on fire, but they’ve hit the skids with three straight losses to teams they would’ve expected to clean up comfortably. So how do they respond against a genuine contender? The Bulldogs have been locked in a succession of tight dog-fights, and while they are battle-hardened, that has to take its toll. Getting back to Simonds Stadium – where they have a magnificent record – may be just the tonic for the desperate Cats.
Crow’s Tip: Geelong Cats +1.5 @ $1.90
St Kilda Saints v Sydney Swans
1.45pm (AEST), Saturday, May 20 @ Etihad Stadium
Teams: Paddy McCartin is beating the door down for a recall via his VFL form, while Shane Savage and Daniel McKenzie are in line to replace injured defender Jimmy Webster. Kurt Tippett and Gary Rohan are back in the mix after strong injury returns in the NEAFL.
History: The Swans have won 133 games to the Saints’ 77, with 3 drawn. The Swans won by 70 points in Round 21 last season.
Form: The 5-3 Saints have risen to sixth on the back of three consecutive wins over the Hawks, Giants and Blues. The 2-6 Swans have climbed up to 15th after winning their last two against the Lions and Kangaroos.
Stats: The Swans have won their last 6 against the Saints, including the last 4 by 59 points or more. The Saints have won just 3 of their last 15 against the Swans in Sydney. The Saints are 13-7 at Etihad Stadium since the start of last season (4-2 in 2017). The Swans are 10-6 away from Sydney since the start of 2016 (1-3 this year).
Final Thoughts: The Saints have really got on a roll and seem to be riding the confidence of their momentum wins over the Hawks and Giants. It wasn’t their best effort against the Blues last week, however, and they need to find a way to deal with increased expectations. The Swans come into this clash with some belated momentum, with their win over North a potential platform to make a mid-season surge. This shapes as possibly the closest match of the round to call.
Crow’s Tip: St Kilda 1-24 @ $3.50
GWS Giants v Richmond Tigers
4.35pm (AEST), Saturday, May 20 @ Spotless Stadium
Teams: Toby Greene will be back from suspension for the Giants. Dion Prestia is expected to line up for the Tigers, while Anthony Miles, Sam Lloyd and Ben Lennon and pushing for a promotion.
History: The Tigers have won 5 games to the Giants’ 1, but GWS won their most recent clash – in Round 19 last year – by 88 points.
Form: The 6-2 Giants are in a share of the competition lead, bouncing back from their loss to St Kilda with a narrow win over Collingwood. The 5-3 Tigers have lost their last three games to slide down to seventh spot.
Stats: The Tigers are 3-0 against the Giants at Spotless Stadium. The Giants are 8-3 at Spotless Stadium since the start of 2016 (2-0 this season). The Tigers are 2-6 away from Melbourne since the start of last season (1-1 in 2017).
Final Thoughts: Like the Cats, the Tigers have got the wobbles in a major way after a superb 5-0 start. They desperately need to halt their slide. Unfortunately, their next assignment is against the formidable Giants at Spotless – a team that will be eager to improve on a narrow escape against the lowly Magpies. GWS should be far too strong at home, with doubts still surrounding Richmond’s ability to cut it against the best teams.
Crow’s Tip: GWS Giants -25.5 @ $1.90
Brisbane Lions v Adelaide Crows
7.25pm (AEST), Saturday, May 20 @ Gabba
Teams: Brisbane are hopeful of having skipper Dayne Beams back on deck this weekend, but Tom Rockliff is in doubt after dislocating his should in Round 8. Jake Lever and Riley Knight should be back for Adelaide, while Scott Thompson could make his first appearance of 2017.
History: The Lions and Crows have won 15 games each in their 30-game rivalry; the Crows won by 138 points in Round 20 last season.
Form: The 1-7 Lions are dead last, with their defeat to the Hawks their seventh in a row. The 6-2 Crows remain on top of the ladder despite losing their last two heavily to the Kangaroos and Demons.
Stats: Adelaide hold a 9-8 advantage over Brisbane as the away team. The Crows are on a 5-match winning streak against the Lions and have won 11 of the last 15. Five of the teams’ last 10 encounters were decided by 12 points or less, but 3 of the Crows’ last 4 wins were by 87+ points. The Lions are 2-12 at home since the start of 2016 (0-3 this year). The Crows are 8-6 away from Adelaide Oval since the start of last season (2-1 in 2017).
Final Thoughts: Brisbane are far behind the rest of the AFL right now it’s not funny, barely competing at all and giving the previously struggling Swans and Hawks a big leg-up. Adelaide will be bitterly disappointed they let their 6-0 start turn into two straight losses, but a trip to the Gabba should get them back on track. The Crows are the top attacking outfit in the premiership and the Lions are the worst defensively, so this could get ugly.
Crow’s Tip: Adelaide Crows 60+ @ $2.40
Collingwood Magpies v Hawthorn Hawks
7.25pm (AEST), Saturday, May 20 @ MCG
Teams: Adam Treolar is likely to return for Collingwood, while Travis Varcoe is also a possible inclusion; Mason Cox shapes as the replacement for the injured Ben Reid. Cyril Rioli, Ben Stratton and James Frawley all succumbed to medium-term injuries during last week’s win, while Jack Fitzpatrick is likely out with concussion.
History: Collingwood have won 96 games to Hawthorn’s 65, but the Hawks won by 1 point in Round 23 last season.
Form: The 2-6 Magpies are now in 17th, losing their last two to the Blues and Giants. The 3-5 Hawks have won three of their last four – against the Eagles, Demons and Lions, with a bad loss to the Saints in between – to move up to 14th.
Stats: The Hawks are on a 9-game winning streak against the Magpies, and have won 14 of the last 17 between the clubs. Six of the Hawks’ last 8 wins over the Magpies were by 29+ points. Collingwood are 7-12 at the MCG since the start of 2016 (1-4 this year). Hawthorn are 9-8 at the MCG since the start of last season (2-3 in 2017).
Final Thoughts: The Magpies were gutsy last week, unlucky to go down to the Giants – they are better than their record or ladder position suggests, but such is the evenness of the 2017 AFL premiership. The Hawks have turned things around in recent weeks to incredibly sit just a win away from the top eight, but a shocking injury toll from their win over the Lions could be a telling factor this Saturday. Nevertheless, the experienced Hawks are an enticing option with a two-goal start.
Crow’s Tip: Hawthorn Hawks +13.5 @ $1.90
Essendon Bombers v West Coast Eagles
1.10pm (AEST), Sunday, May 21 @ Etihad Stadium
Teams: Tom Bellchambers, Craig Bird and Craig McNiece are pushing for inclusion in what should be a relatively settled Bombers line-up. Drew Petrie could return for the Eagles, who are also expecting Jamie Cripps back.
History: Essendon have won 27 games to West Coast’s 23, but the Eagles won by 78 points last season.
Form: The 4-4 Bombers are in 11th, breaking a two-game losing streak by beating the Cats last week. The 6-2 Eagles are in a share of the premiership lead (third on percentages) thanks to three straight wins over the Dockers, Power and Bulldogs.
Stats: The Bombers have an impressive 17-6 advantage over the Eagles at home. The Bombers have won 3 of their last 4 against the Eagles at Etihad Stadium, but the Eagles have won 3 of the last 4 overall. The Bombers have won only 1 of their last 15 games at Etihad Stadium. The Eagles are 7-7 away from Perth since the start of 2016 (2-2 this season).
Final Thoughts: While the rest of the heavyweights have stumbled in recent weeks, the Eagles have surged after copping plenty of criticism in the early rounds. They’ve beaten some very handy sides in their past three outings – but doubts remain over their ability to get the job done in Melbourne. The Bombers claimed a big scalp of their own last week to stay in touch with the top eight, but the Eagles can parlay their momentum into overcoming the mental hurdle of travelling to Victoria and chalk up a valuable victory.
Crow’s Tip: West Coast Eagles 1-39 @ $2.20
Melbourne Demons v North Melbourne Kangaroos
3.20pm (AEST), Sunday, May 21 @ MCG
Teams: Jesse Hogan is out indefinitely after his cancer diagnosis, while Jayden Hunt suffered a concussion last week and is in doubt. Andrew Swallow could make a return to the Kangaroos’ line-up after last week’s midfield mismatch against the Swans, while Declan Mountford and Mitch Hibberd are also options.
History: The Demons have won 83 games to the Kangaroos’ 74, with 1 drawn. North won by 5 points in their only clash last season.
Form: The 4-4 Demons remain in 10th despite their bounce-back win over Adelaide to the tune of 41 points last week. The 2-6 Kangaroos are in 16th, following up their two-game winning run with a loss to the Swans in Round 8.
Stats: The Kangaroos are on a 15-match winning streak against the Demons. Six of North’s last 7 wins over the Demons were by 30+ points. The Dees are 8-8 at the MCG since the start of 2016, but only 1-3 this season. The Kangaroos have played only 10 games at the MCG in the past four seasons, winning 6 and losing 4.
Final Thoughts: The Demons grabbed a super-impressive win over the competition leaders last week, but they need to string some wins together if they’re to be a genuine top eight contender. The Kangaroos had done well to claw back from an 0-5 start, but they came unstuck against the Swans and rank near the bottom of the AFL for points conceded. Expect the Demons to ride the emotion of Jesse Hogan’s illness news to an authoritative win at the ’G.
Crow’s Tip: Melbourne Demons -12.5 @ $1.90
Fremantle Dockers v Carlton Blues
2.40pm (AWST), Sunday, May 21 @ Domain Stadium
Teams: Stephen Hill and Hayden Ballantyne could be back for Fremantle. Kristian Jacksch, Liam Sumner and Sam Kerridge may come into the frame for Carlton after strong VFL displays last weekend.
History: Fremantle have won 17 games to Carlton’s 13, but the Blues won by 4 points early last season.
Form: The 5-3 Dockers are placed ninth, winning their last two games against the Bombers and Tigers. The 3-5 Blues are in 13th as their loss to the Saints ended a two-game winning run.
Stats: The Dockers boast an 11-8 home record against the Blues. The Blues have won just 5 of their last 20 against the Dockers, but they have won 3 of the last 5 at Domain Stadium. Seven of the teams’ last 11 games were decided by single-figure margins. The Dockers are 6-11 at Domain Stadium since the start of 2016 (3-2 this year). The Blues are 1-6 interstate since the start of last season (0-1 in 2017).
Final Thoughts: The Dockers are in great touch – winning five of their last six – and now sit at the bottom of a six-team logjam tied for fourth spot. They have a big chance this weekend to cement a place in the eight. The Blues turn up every week and are always competitive, but they certainly shape as a bottom-four team and their poor record away from Melbourne will catch up with them here.
Crow’s Tip: Fremantle Dockers -19.5 @ $1.90