The Round 8 AFL Preview

The full guide to all the weekend's action.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

Collingwood-Geelong

This will be a ripper in every sense of the word. A rematch of the 2011 Grand Final, both teams now find themselves struggling to stay in touch with the top-8, but rest assured both will be there when the regular season winds down.

Jimmy Bartel returns to strengthen a Geelong midfield that will have their hands full chasing the likes of Pendlebury, Swan and now Sidebottom around while Dale Thomas, Chris Dawes and Alex Fasolo all return for the Pies.

The Pies are the pre-match favourites but don’t be surprised if the Cats come out on top.

Port Adelaide-North Melbourne

A must win for both sides- Port has lost six straight after surprising the Saints in Round 1 while Kangaroos head coach Brad Scott was fuming last weekend when a lack of effort saw them fall to the Bulldogs, their second straight after a good start to '12.

Hamish McIntosh is out with a minor knee injury but Goldstein is more than capable of picking up the slack for a couple of weeks. For Port, goal kicking forward Jay Schulz returns for an eye scratch that saw him miss the past two weeks.

Expect North to bounce back and for Port to continue its losing ways.

Hawthorn-Fremantle

The Hawks were big winners in their last two while Fremantle dispatched lesser sides in Port and the Gold Coast. This is a hard one to predict in that both sides have played their best and worst possible footy already in 2012. With the game being played in Tasmania you’d expect whoever brought their A-game to come out with the win on Saturday.

Michael Osborne needs a knee reco and will miss the remainder of the season but is adequately replaced by Josh Gibson. Adam McPhee doesn’t set the world on fire with his disposal or decision making but he does do a lot of the hard things Fremantle needs. He will be sorely missed with a calf injury.

Sydney-Melbourne

The shock inclusion here is Liam Jurrah, who today face preliminary hearings regarding the March machete attack he was allegedly involved in. It being Indigenous round and all, Jurrah’s inclusion is one that could really pay off or fall flat on its face if he isn’t in proper match condition.

Josh Kennedy finally had an average superstar game and still no Shane Mumford for the Swans who were pumped by the Tigers last week.

Western Bulldogs-Gold Coast

The Suns received Ablett and Rischitelli back into an injury depleted side last week but disappointed against that under 18s side from Greater Western Sydney. While the Dogs have now won three from seven in 2012, they still aren’t great and the Gold Coast have a chance to catch that elusive first win.

Swallow out for GC means you should definitely follow fourth gamer Kyal Horsely who has impressed thus far.

Essendon-Richmond

This is another game worth tuning into. The Bombers smashed West Coast’s B-side last weekend. Nevertheless, it was an impressive win in Perth and are they among the league’s elite. Michael Hurley’s return is a big boost.

Richmond are winners of just three from seven but you have to love how they’ve been playing in recent weeks. After losing in the fourth against West Coast in Round 5, they have since smashed Port and Sydney. Also impressive is the continuity Damien Hardwick is showing with his roster. Again no changes.

Brisbane-Greater Western Sydney

Kevin Sheedy obviously hates Supercoach and Dreamteam, proving so by resting all our cash cows: Dylan Shiel, Tomas Bugg, Devon Smith and Alex Kennedy. Don’t worry, I called him up, gave him and spray and he assured me that they’ll be back next week.

Honestly, this game doesn’t have a lot going for it. I’ll be looking for some surprising performances to at least make it watchable.

Carlton-Adelaide

Definitely a juicy game worth watching. Adelaide sit third on the premiership ladder and have real threats all over the ground. Carlton were so disappointing on the specially scheduled Monday night game that you would have to expect a massive game to make up for dropping a winnable one to the Saints.

Leading AFL goal kicker Taylor Walker will miss two for a reckless tackle and Chris Yarren returns for the Blues.

West Coast-St Kilda

This completes what should be a very entertaining Round 8. Boy were the Sainters good on Monday and with the Eagles receiving the likes of Selwood and Naitanui back into the team, this should be a real meeting of minds. Give me the Eagles though.