Collingwood is pretty popular at the moment and it’s safe to say it’s because of their 10 consecutive wins. Carlton on the other hand, is not. Sadly for the Blues, their nightmare run continues for yet another week. They’ll be fighting for more than just their season (now a game out of the eight), they are fighting for the job of coach Brett Ratten.
Watch: Travis Cloke was a concern last week, being subbed off after another lacklustre effort. Heaps of media noise about how he’s handled his contract negotiations and it appears to have affected his play.
Out of nowhere, a red hot North Melboure used the past few weeks to sneak into the eight ahead of teams such as Richmond and St Kilda. Looking to prove they're legit, North has a chance a top-three scalp in the West Coast Eagles, but face them across in Tasmania. Do I like their chances? No. The Eagles remain, at least for my money, the best the competition has to offer and will attempt to move above the ladder’s third position with their 11th win of 2012.
(Last week aside) What a transformation Melbourne! From historically bad to a team that actually plays a recognisable brand of footy. That doesn’t mean they’ll beat Richmond (losers of two in a row), but it gives them a chance.
It has been a big week in Tigerland for all the wrong reasons. How they respond is pivotal. Partly due to the scandal, there have been a heap of changes to the Tigers’ team this week: McGuane, White, A Maric, Conca, Batchelor, Derickx, O’Hanlon replace Miller, Jackson, Connors, King, Grimes, Martin, Elton, which hasn’t been a common theme one of the comp’s most consistent line ups.
Brisbane is another team that has been solid recently and much of that is due to mid-age recruit Dane Zorko who has been playing out of his mind since his debut against Collingwood in Round 7. Sydney has won all four of their last games including two absolute beat downs of the lowly Bulldogs and Giants. Expect them to keep up the form.
St Kilda didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence in their loss last week to the Kangaroos and receive a red hot Essendon who will likely push them further down the ladder. Scott Waters wielded the selection axe by cutting Terry Milera and Raph Clarke (Jason Blake and Rhys Stanley will miss significant time with injuries) and replaced them with Clint Jones and Beau Wilkes.
Jobe Watson has replaced Joel Selwood as the league’s poster boy captain with his leadership being compared with the accomplishments of George Washington, Nelson Mandela, Julia Gillard and the likes in recent weeks, while Michael Hurley has thrown away the potential tag that has dogged in over the past couple of seasons to finally play some great footy in consecutive weeks. The loss of Brendan Goddard is a huge one despite his somewhat inconsistent form this season.
The South Australian Derby will make news all across the ‘biten’ area of our country, but nowhere else. Adelaide overcame Richmond last week and is hunting for a top 4 spot (Port Adelaide is hunting for draft picks). I think they’ll get it too, however Port may find themselves with a chance; Adelaide’s forward line has been decimated. They lose Taylor Walker (suspension), Jared Petrenko (foot) and Ian Callinan (calf) for Round 15 and possibly beyond.
Need we discuss the Hawks-GWS game? This one will flirt with a 100-point margin.
Gary Ablett v his old side in Geelong. Blow out!
Final prediction: Fremantle-Western Bulldogs will be the least watched game of Round 15. Fremantle have changed their defensive style of game in order to be a threat on the score sheet, but no one cares. The Western Bulldogs are simply awful. Last week’s 140-56 loss to the Bombers was disgraceful.
A heap of changes for both sides; Fremantle have gone with the veterans, bringing in Paul Duffield, Kepler Bradley, Antoni Grover along with Stephen Hill and Michael Walters, to replace part-time ballerina dancer Zac Clarke and Alex Silvagni. The Bulldogs lose Adam Cooney (hip), Robert Murphy (hip) and Liam Jones (spud).