What?? We’re playing them AGAIN?? This must be the cry of Melbourne supporters as they have to face Hawthorn for the second time in nine weeks, a mere eight weeks after copping a hundred point loss against them.

Meanwhile, the Swannies face up to the Power for the second time in eight matches and it’s much the same for Adelaide and West Coast. This draw is worse than one in your Grandfather’s PJs.

Another eight last week for yours truly for a total of 51 but not much to brag about there as plenty of punters got the lot last week (so much for my par prediction) although the Dockers did their best to spoil everyone’s tipping in the last match of the round. Earlier this week I stated that the Carlton v Freo game is this weeks headscratcher but the Port vs. Sydney match up looks like a tough one to predict as well.

Collingwood vs. Geelong MCG

Pies fans spent all last summer telling everyone who wouldn’t listen how they were the second best team of the year in 2007 and that they were a kick away from a premiership. However events of this season has proven that statement to be a somewhat dodgy proposition. The Pies have not been impressive this year and while you can say the same about the Cats I suppose, at least Geelong are getting the job done. Paul Chapman and Cameron Mooney found some long overdue form and Andrew Mackie appears to be getting back to his best also. The Pies have surprisingly left out Cameron Wood in favour of Bryan but the plus for Collingwood is that there is no Ottens to torment them this time. I stated earlier in the week that if Rocca plays Geelong win and I stand by that. With Scarlett running off the big Pie the Cats will have multiple options running off half back to join in addition to the advantage in midfield thrusts. Despite not playing at their best this season, the Cats are still in better form than the Pies and should stay undefeated for another week. I believe that the Cats will fire up as they would have steeled themselves for this clash ever since falling over the line in last year’s Prelim final.

Geelong by 29 points.

Carlton vs. Fremantle Telstra Dome

Even though Carlton have improved this season, I’m not sold on the Blues. Carlton are still in development mode and are still leaving too much to too few and even though the workload is spread more evenly than last season, they appear to have a way to go before this trend has been fully addressed. Freo on the other hand would be a lousy dog owner because they just can’t hold a lead. Last week they became the first team since 1980 to lose three matches in a row after leading at 3/4 time. I’m taking up Frocker’s challenge here and tipping the Dockers. Aaron Sandilands will terrorise kiddie ruck duo Kruezer and Hampson to nullify the edge that the Blues have in midfield personell. The marking forwards thrive at the Dome and while this bodes well for Fev (who might have McPharlin for company), Freo have Matty Pavlich and Chris Tarrant waiting at the other end. While Freo’s recent record has not been flattering it pays to remember just how competitive this team has been against the top sides with narrow losses to all of the top four teams. This must be stressed to the Docker playing group so the seeds of belief might be planted. This game is a nightmare to tip as both sides have a strong case here but I feel the Dockers are about ready to snap their disastrous losing streak with a win against the Blues.

Fremantle by 10 points.

Port vs. Sydney AAMI Stadium

Both teams come into this crucial clash in Adelaide missing key players but in this match I believe that Port is closer to full strength than the Swans. Chad Cornes will play with a hand guard on as Shaun Burgoyne has been suspended but the Swans are missing two of thier most important players in Tadgh Kennelly and Barry Hall. Playing Essendon is useless preparation for any side that suddenly has to go interstate. Even though Port aren’t the hardest side going around, compared to the defensive efforts of the 2008 Bombers this will feel like a straight jacket for the Swannie forwards. Micheal Wilson is another big in for Port as he provides some mongrel in a team that often shirks the blue collar work needed against Sydney. The Swans have an excellent record against the Power but four of thier past five clashes have been in Sydney. The home ground advantage combined with a soft preceding game for the Swans and with no Hall and Kennelly gives Port the slightest of edges in what should be a ripper of a match. Port will make use of the additional space that wasn’t available to them when they were flogged by Sydney at the SCG.

Port by 7 points.

West Coast vs. Adelaide Subiaco

West Coast’s recent dominance over the Crows became redundant at AAMI earlier this year when the Crows pounded their former nemesis by 76 points. West Coast have not recovered since. However the Crows youngsters have hit the ground running and they have a better collection of senior players available to them who are offering the team structure much more. Brett Burton looms as a real menace in this game and with Porplyzia, Tippett and Goodwin about the big sticks all of a sudden a problem area for the Crows has become a real threat. The Crow backline oozes class and the Eagles will find it tough to score. I think the Coast are going to tank this year, but this one will just be a straight out loss to a much better side.

Adelaide by 41 points.

Essendon vs. Richmond MCG

Surely by now Terry’s Tigers have had a gutful of respectable losses. Drop this game to the direction less Bombers and all of a sudden it’s not so respectable. For all of the improvement the Tigers have shown it won’t matter too much if the aussie rose and the Bomber army are singing their song this Saturday night. The time has come for the Tigers to deliver. With players such as Foley, Richardson and Deledio in the middle of the ground it is hard to see the Bombers making much of an impact. The Bombers defence is as bad as anything Carlton dished up last season so Richardson, Brown, Riewoldt and a host of other Tigers will be lining up to slot through a raft of majors. The Tigers have improved, Essendon are reeling and in past few seasons the Tigers have had the edge even though they’d be lucky to win a chook raffle. The Tigers will roar here and Essendon will bomb out.

Richmond by 55 points.

Brisbane vs. St Kilda Gabba

This season has been going on long enough now for some really important matchups to emerge and this clash between 8th ranked Brisbane and 9th ranked St Kilda is clearly one of these. The Lions now have three matches in a row at the Gabba so St Kilda need to rack up the 4 points or risk the Lions getting right away from them. The Alpaca returns from injury for St Kilda but they’ve pulled a swifty with G Train’s ‘injury’ meaning they can elevate a rookie (Sneaky bastards). Brisbane meanwhile look to be at full strength with the added bonus of a fit Bradshaw and the artist formerly known as ‘Mr Softee’ Travis Johnstone who has now been taught by Leigh Matthews how to win his own ball. Smart man that Lethal. The Saints have won only twice at the Gabba since 1991. Don’t expect them to add to that tally on Sunday.

[Looking forward to this game. Going to the match with Mrs REB and REB Cubs]

Brisbane by 23 points.

Melbourne vs. Hawthorn MCG

Hawthorn are on fire and Melbourne are carp. Last time they met the Hawks won by over 100 points. The Dees will do a bit better this time around but I wouldn’t be plonking any do re mi on the Demons. Melbourne’s win over the Dockers was a tonic but they clearly skulled it all before getting belted by Adelaide last week. It will get even tougher this week and it will be Melbourne facing its own inner demons that determine the margin here. I just can’t see Hawthorn dropping this game although the Demons will shave a few goals off the losing margin of last time. Hawthorn will probably end up on top of the ladder at the end of this round.

Hawthorn by 77 points.

Western Bulldogs vs. North Melbourne Telstra Dome

The Kangaroos have a very good recent record against the Bullies but this year’s breed is a much fiercer breed of Bulldog. Even though the Roos have only lost once in their past five meetings I just don’t think they are playing anywhere near the standard they set at times last season. The backline looks really unsettled with coach Laidley rotating a large number of half back options into and out of the line up. Against a forwardline that is strong in small forwards in Akermanis, Murphy, Welsh and Brad Johnson, this is not a good look for North. In the Roos favour is that this match marks the highly respected Boomer Harvey’s 250th league match and North traditionally play well in the milestone matches. The Roos look outnumbered in the middle of the ground and are too unsettled down back to restrict the Bulldogs to a losing score. The Bullies will win well and set up a massive clash with the Hawks next week.

Western Bulldogs by 33 points.

A much tougher round this time around. My ‘options’ theory will be tested in two matches. The Port game and the Carlton game. Sydney and Port have many similar areas of strength even though they play differing styles of game. I predicted a one point finish last time and Sydney promptly flogged Port. I think Port can improve at home but the Swans a big chance. In the Carlton game the Blues clearly have more options in the midfield but lack options in defence to cover Pavlich, Tarrant and Farmer as well as conceding a ruck advantage to the giant Lurch Sandilands.

If you get six this week that would be a good result IMO. Happy tipping.