Well, I’ve already said my piece on last week’s pathetic predictions in the Round 5 Rubbish. Now let’s never speak of it again! So far this season the Cats and the surging Saints have skipped away from the pack and it is possible that they could end up three games clear of third six rounds into the year. In the middle reaches of the ladder it is already getting tight. Essendon, North and Freo copped massive injury blows last round and it is this kind of thing that can turn a 5-8 year to a 9-12 or even 13-16 year. North are looking especially vulnerable at the moment.

North Melbourne vs Collingwood Dome

Despite Collingwood being a dodgy tipping proposition when they are
‘the hunted’, I am going to select them this week even though the Magpies go in favourites for this match. North Melbourne are struggling badly in front of the big sticks and just aren’t kicking goals with the decision to delist Nathan Thompson looking worse and worse by the week. With Daniel Wells and now Boomer Harvey out of action there doesn’t appear to be much talent in the engine room for the Roos. Even out of favour midfielder Daniel Harris has been recalled and North are also relying on players such as Andrew Swallow and Sam Power to back up the more dependable Adam Simpson. The Pies, though inconsistent have at least been competitive each time they have taken the field which is something you can’t say for North this season. I’m looking forward to this week to see if any of the three Pies big duds can get a kick or to see if Josh Fraser has grown any testicles. If push comes to the shove, the Roos don’t have the run of Essendon to spring a late charge and the Pies will win and remain in the eight for another week. Collingwood by 26 points.

Hawthorn vs. Carlton The G

Hawthorn have toyed with the Blues in recent years but looking at the selected sides for this match it is Carlton that have the more settled combination. For me the big improvement has come in defence for the Blues with Thornton, Waite and Jamison all combining with the runners to generate drive through that impressive midfield. At full strength the Hawks would be too strong but despite the gutsy win against West Coast last week the Hawks remain vulnerable. Even though Hawthorn have been getting premiership players coming in they are continuing to lose players regularly as well. This week it is Guerra and Osborne who return but Young Clinton is the man out injured this time. I think Fev will have a big match this week and exploit the problems the Hawks currently have in the backline. If the Blues can restrict Hodge from bludging off the ball and pinpointing Buddy and Roughead, they can banish a hoodoo at the G on Saturday. Carlton need to start beating the sides that have had the ‘wood on them’ in recent years and an opportunity to make a significant leap forward can start with a win on Saturday. Carlton by 31 points.

West Coast vs. Fremantle Subi

This match up is always a hotly contested one with no love lost. Freo are coming off their best match of the season and West Coast have showed genuine improvement this season and this match could well be a beauty (but you won’t see me with any more predictions on how the game style might pan out after my Adelaide v Melbourne debacle!). The clash in the ruck between Freo giant Sandilands and the best ruck in the league Dean Cox will be a highlight. A crucial factor in this match is how Freo handle Daniel Kerr. When Kerr has been restricted this has diminished the Eagles’ effectiveness but if the Dockers can’t shut down the talented Eagle than the West Coast will be well on their way to victory. The Dockers have had the edge in recent years over their arch rivals and the West Coast are coming back from a slogging game in difficult conditions in Tassie this week. However, during the course of the season the Eagles have played the better football and their best football has been played at home. I reckon the Eagles can turn back the clock a few years and put on over on their ‘little brother’ with an 11 point victory.

Brisbane vs. Essendon Gabba

What a big match this is for the Lions. Absolutely spanked at Cat Park and coming off a home loss to the Pies the week before that – this is a match that Vossy’s boys simply can’t afford to lose. Essendon have been a courageous unit this season and that courage will be tested as they contemplate the rest of the season without star ruckman David Hille who is irreplaceable in the Bomber set up. Patrick Ryder had a game out of the box last week but he will find it difficult to replicate that form on a consistent basis. On paper Ryder has an easier task against Mitch Clark than he did against Collingwood ruckman Josh Fraser but I believe that the Lions will target Ryder physically in what will be a desperate encounter for the home side. I think that Essendon might have just snuck ahead of the Lions this year but with the home ground advantage, the increasingly desperate situation at Bris Vegas and the fact that the Bombers have lost their key man swings this match in Brisbane’s favour. Lions by 19 points.

Adelaide vs. Port Football Park

Port players will be stunned when they run out on the ground to see that Football Park actually does hold more than 18000 people when they take on the Crows in the showdown. Port might do a Freo here and go the biff but unfortunately Port are only fake tough so perhaps the energy should be focussed on winning the football. The Port ruck set up was slammed by Choco during the week and if they can’t dominate against an underwhelming Blackbird set up then Brogan and Lade could both very well be running around with the Panters in the SNAFL this week. The Crows and Port continue to be very frustrating teams to watch as they almost refuse to kick the darn thing forward. This game is a real 50/50 job. Neither side has a forward line, Adelaide has the defence, Port has the ruck. No idea really (as you can tell from my tips this year). Port have had a few extra days to stew over the Saint flogging so I’ll go with them without a skerrick of confidence. Port by 8 points.

Sydney vs. Richmond SCG

The pressure is off at Richmond so they are no show to defeat the Swans on their favourite ground. With the Swans welcoming back O’Loughlin, Moore and Hall the forward line once again looks potent. The key beneficiary of this could be Ryan O’Keefe who has been very poor for the majority of this season. Despite the indestructible nature of Matty Richardson, he is no monty to play and if he does he will not be fully effective. If Richo is absent or going at half rat power, then I find it hard to envisage a Tiger victory. The Swans will be stung by dropping a game to the Dockers and will not want to drop a second match to a struggler or they will end up joining the club. The Swans will have an experienced group out there for this match and Richmond might be a little too pleased with themselves for breaking their duck last week. I expect the usual suspects for the Swans to strangle the life out of the erratic Tigers and snaffle the four points at home. Sydney by 25 points.

Melbourne vs. Geelong The G

The Cats will be very keen to show Adelaide just how to the Demons should be laid to rest in what promises to be one of the matches of the season. The Gary Ablett show will roll into the MCG and he could very well raise the bat with a 50 possession game based on recent form. The good news for Melbourne is that Russel Robertson is back in the side so at least they’ve now got something to kick to. I’d be cruel and put Scarlo or Max Rooke on him but I don’t think Bomber would share my sense of humour. Aaron Davey and Brent Maloney have also been in top form for the Demons but when you look at the Cats team its hard to find a weakness. Geelong will get an absolute avalanche of ball in this game and that will make life more than difficult for the demons. With Geelong keen to put on a show at the home of football in a rare venture to the G, it’s hard to see anything but a Catter romp. Geelong by 79 points.

Western Bulldogs vs. St Kilda The Dome

The Saints juggernaut looks set to roll on for another week at the expense of a wobbly Bulldogs outfit in the Sunday twilight game. It will be a pleasure to sit back on Sunday night and not have to watch a bunch of useless Sandgropers running around. This game should be a beauty as the Dogs have pretensions of greatness that will be well and truly laid to rest by a St Kilda side that could currently beat Tiger Woods at Golf. You know you are travelling well when Zac Dawson is on fire, Michael Gardiner survives more than two consecutive quarters without straining an ovary and Grant Thomas picks on Collingwood. The Dogs for their part have a few blokes that haven’t played all that much football, think of them as Hawthorn without the whining. They’ve missed Cooney’s goals and input of last year and Murphy will be better for the run last week and this week serial pest Jason Akermanis returns to the side. All plusses for the Dogs but not enough to stop the Saints who are peaking beautifully in May. St Kilda by 41 points.