The previews below are written by

Friday 29 June

Essendon v Melbourne,
Telstra Dome @ 7.40pm (AEST)

Hmm… just an added bit of spice in this game. It WAS looking like another easy Bombre victory (although I tipped the Dees in the podcast) But now with Daniher’s resignation, and rumours RIFE about his heir-apparent beginning during his media conference thanks to the bozo’s at the Bostonian and SEN 1116, well this game takes on an extra bit of grunt.

Will the Demon’s come around to playing a decent brand of footy to send off their coach of 10 years. Will it actually be his last game as so many medja outlets are reporting. Where is the Demon pride at this turbulent time? How will Sheedy react in the coaches box, when rumours exist that he may be the next Demon coach, and that Daniher will replace him at the helm of the Don’s. God I detest rumours and innuendo.

Let’s talk about the match. Sheedy has brought in a bit more speed with Lovett and Campo (arguable) but loses his ruckman. This could well mean that Jeff White will have an easy day in the ruck but Paddy Ryder has performed remarkably well there when he has been asked to this year, and of course, Laycock will be given every opportunity to cement a spot in the side without Hille.

The midfield rotations will be interesting. Essendon just seems to have a lot more going for it on the park at this particular stage, even though it lost its last game that it would have expected to win. The Bombre’s looked terribly slow against the Power and will be relying on those fresh, quick legs to give it a lot of impetus going forward. Watson, Pev, Winderlich, Slattery and Johnson are all having much better years than the previous 3 and their maturity is a big reason why the Don’s are playing with passion and pride. The Melbourne on-ball brigade of McLean, Jones, Petterd, Bate, Davey and Green will really need to find that defensive side to their game they exhibited against Collingwood or this could well be a rout of the highest order.

Bolton has been an under-rated player at Windy Hill this year. He has served a LONG apprenticeship and lots of Bombre supporters have been wishing he would fall on his sword over the years. He has basically stuck it up them like old Teddy Whitten used to back in the day, and is playing solid, stable footy. His battle with Johnstone will be interesting to watch, as will Cameron Bruce running rings around the S.O.B. (Sooky Old Blue).

Look for Godfrey to go with Hird, Bizzell on Mucas, Carroll on Lloyd and Wheatley on the younger of the Davey’s. In fact I would be asking for Daniher to put his brother on him and teach him a football lesson except I need the Bombre to get good DT points!. Down the other end, Michael on Neitz, Fletcher to run around unaccounted for and pick up “One Million Possessions”- sorry – a bit of Austin Powers got to me there. McVeigh will run with Sylvia but will run away from him as Colin is a bit lazy and McVeigh could well be the game-breaker for the Bombre’s.

The game-breaker for the Dee’s will come at 3/4 time with an impassioned plea from Daniher to “do it for the Gipper” and I reckon Melbourne will over-run the Bombre’s for one last hurrah to the coach and they will win by 4 points.

B: Nash Michael McVeigh
HB: Welsh Fletcher McPhee
C: Bolton Watson Camporeale
HF: Hird Lucas Slattery
FOR: J Johnson Lloyd Davey
FOLL: Ryder Peverill Rover: Winderlich
INTER: M Johnson Laycock Stanton Lovett
EMERG: Bradley Monfries Dyson
IN: Stanton Lovett Camporeale
OUT: Hille (suspended) Heffernan Monfries

B: Ward Carroll Wheatley
HB: Godfrey Bizzell Bell
C: Bruce McDonald Johnstone
HF: Green Robertson Davey
FOR: Sylvia Neitz Bate
FOLL: White McLean Rover: Jones
INTER: P Johnson Petterd Newton Brown
EMERG: Miller C Johnson Buckley
IN: Neitz Johnstone Brown Newton
OUT: Yze (hernia) Holland (broken nose) Pickett Frawley
NEW: Michael Newton, 20, Murray Bushrangers

Saturday 30 June

Fremantle v Carlton,
Subiaco Oval @ 2.10pm (AWST)

The only thing that could be better that sitting down at 4.10pm on a Sat’dy arvo and watching this game is to see the Blues get up for a miracle victory. I honestly can’t believe there is STILL so much hatred of Carlton after 5 years down the bottom of the ladder. I guess it shows that jealousy and pain still run deep and even though Carlton is crap, the Victorian suppoters have not forgotten the many thrashings handed out to their respective sides over the years.

This game really is a nothing game. It is a game that Freo is expected to win and win easily. Walker and Whitnall are out with injury and young Blackwell has been dumped after having 48 touches with the Bullants. On the other side of the continent, where Global Warming has meant the Fremantle Doctor doesn’t arrive on time anymore, the hot-heads over there have seen another 2 ‘stars’ in trouble and dumped one of them. The other has escaped with no penalty as yet. The question remains as to whether Dessie Headland will actually play or whether the club will intervene and omit him for breaking team rules or some such farce.

The only good thing for Carlton in this game is that Ryan Crowley has been dropped. He CRAVES playing against the Blues and I reckon he picks up 1/2 his yearly stats in two games on Nick Stevens. Maybe that is why he was dropped – no set match-up!
Sandilands won’t have a picnic against Ackland and o’hAilpin. It will be a veritable SMORGASBOARD (like the Swagman) and his midfielders will be running on air with the amount of ball he will deliver down their throats. Carlton’s midfield just doesn’t have the grasp of roving to the opposition ruckman yet, still believing their own guys can outjump anyone. GROW UP!

Sandilands and the midfielders won’t be the only one’s dining out. Can you imagine the damage that Pavlich will do at the lunch table with no-one really able to match up on him. Sigh. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Pagan SHOULD use Waite on him but will probably go with Thornton and Pav could well kick a Freo record this round.

I am trying to find nice things to say about the Blues but I just can’t. I can’t see them getting close in this game. Their forward line has been a strength this year but McPharlin on Fevola will be a victory for Freo, as will Thornton on Kouta, Grover will be stretched by a Fisher/Harlett combination but another Freo win. Johnson’s height and pace will be a worry for Lindy Whack (Wiggins) or Lappin and the Blues will really struggle to kick goals, especially
as Freo plays their ridiculous “tempo” footy across half-back way to often.

And of course there is Jeff Farmer back from a self-inflicted suspension……

Freo by 48 points.

B: Hayden McPharlin Parker
HB: Johnson Grover Thornton
C: Black Headland Dodd
HF: Hasleby Pavlich Solomon
F: Farmer Murphy Warnock
FOLL: Sandilands J Carr Rover: Bell
INTER: Schammer McManus M Carr Mundy
EMERG: Walker Gilmore Duffield
IN: Farmer Parker McPharlin Schammer Murphy
OUT: Peake (collarbone) Cook Walker Crowley Tarrant

B: Houlihan Thornton Saddington
HB: Scotland Waite Bannister
C: Russell Bentick Gibbs
HF: Koutoufides Fisher Murphy
FOR: Wiggins Fevola Lappin
FOLL: Ackland Simpson Rover: Carrazzo
INTER: Betts Hartlett O’hAilpin Young
EMERG: Blackwell Bower Kennedy
IN: Betts Hartlett Young
OUT: Blackwell Walker (shoulder) Whitnall (knee)

Saturday 30 June

Geelong v Sydney,
Skilled Stadium @ 2.10pm (AEST)

This game will be as much evidence of the changing of the guard as you are ever likely to see. Geelong is rampant at the moment – a nice reminder of the good old days of Malcolm Blight in late 80’s and early 90’s. The biggest difference between the two era’s is that Bombre Thompson does actually respect the fact that backmen need to play the game as well. Even though the Cats of ’07 are based on an all out attack, their backline is miserly and veritably unpenetrable.

Sydney on the other hand is a shell of its former self with a distinct lack of self-confidence and stability. It is a recipe for disaster. That happened last weekend in Sydney against an undermanned foe so this week could be absolutely anything against a team that is on a rampage to respect and revenge.

Barry Hall is absent and after his output over the past few weeks, it is probably just as well. Poor bloke has started to play badly ever since his TV advertisement when playing against the Broadford U/10’s. He may wish he was back there this week. I am surprised that Reg Grundy has been dropped as he shows a bit I reckon and could have sat at full-forward all day instead of wasting Goodes on Scarlett. Don’t expect Goodes to stay there for any length of time. More likely, Mickey O’ will go down there and Goodes will go to CHF. O’Keefe needs to present a viable option as he is having a so-so year. In fact it is hard to find any Swannies who are having great years. Kirk continues to get a lot of the ball and butchers it going forward with his “slam it onto the boot” style of kicking, and Leo Barry can’t rely on free-kicks and ridiculous 50m penalties to make him look good anymore. He should be able to to contain Nathan Ablett this week but if Ablett gets on the end of bullets from Bartel, Corey, Wojcinski, his brother and Max “Power” Rooke, then anything could happen.

Hard to see who is going to contain those aforementioned kittens. Luke Ablett? Bevan? Mathews? MALCESKI? Please! For a side that has prided itself on its hardness at the contest for 3 years, I am fearful that there won’t BE any contests in this game to be hard at.

Geelong likes it tough as well. Their hard bodies and grunt at the contest thrive on whatever Roos will try to serve up to them and I have a feeling it will be a bit of a laugh. Much like Nick Davis laughing at Josh HUnt in the ’05 Semi, only this will be in reverse.
I think the only battle worth watching will be the two NUTS going at it. Everitt and Ottens slugging it out toe-to-toe in the squared circle.

Geelong by 9 goals going away on their own dung-hill.

B: Milburn Scarlett Enright
HB: Mackie Egan Harley
C: Corey Bartel Wojcinski
HF: Chapman Mooney Varcoe
F: S Johnson N Ablett Stokes
FOLL: Ottens Ling Rover: G Ablett
INTER: Blake Kelly Selwood Rooke
EMERG: Hunt Tenace D Johnson
IN: Rooke
OUT: Tenace

B: Richards Barry Dempster
HB: Bevan C Bolton Mathews
C: Ablett Kirk Malceski
HF: O’Keefe O’Loughlin J Bolton
F: Davis Goodes Buchanan
FOLL: Jolly McVeigh Rover: Fosdike
INTER: Everitt Laidlaw Moore Schmidt
EMERG: Schneider Thornton Vogels
IN: Davis Laidlaw Moore
OUT: Hall (groin) Grundy Schneider
NEW: Matthew Laidlaw, 20, Oakleigh U18

Saturday 30 June

St Kilda v Richmond,
Telstra Dome @ 7.10pm

How the hell did St. Kilda do it? After being exposed all year as a bunch of frauds and the biggest bunch of collective NUTS going around over the past 5 years, they have come out and banged up the Premiership favourites over in the West. Obviously there is a lot of pride and respect for good old “Banger” but surely West Coast laid down for the ageing veteran….surely. I will blame the same Freo Doctor phenomenon I used in the Carlton/Freo game. The Doctor is OUT! And I blame global warming.

Terry Wallace was smiling for the first time this year and that is largely because of Nathan Brown. Plough had a huge grin on his face prior to last weeks game and it just HAD to be because Browny was back playing again. In all seriousness, the Tiges were great last week. Admittedly they took the sting out of the game early but they did it exceptionally well. Everyone contributed to the victory and they way they played must have pleased Wallace no end.

Sad to see Kosi injured with a mystery ‘soft tissue injury’ again. Poor bloke can’t take a trick and Gehrig in his current state is not an adequate replacement. Joel Bowden should take every opportunity to run off him and repay some of the pain he has given the Tigers over the years.
NUTS Riewoldt is still a huge concern and Polak will take him to the cleaners. Polak is in career-bes
t form and whilst NUTS is struggling, it would be an ideal time to exploit the big blonde Saint.

It’s amazing how much better the Saints backline looks with the name Hudghton at FB. He structures them up and stablises them like no other at Linton St and needs to remain on the park at peak fitness for the Saints to regain some of their former splendour. His battle with Richo looms as having a huge impact on the outcome of this game. The interesting thing in this game is whether St. Kilda’s inconsistency will continue, or will last weeks victory solidify the playing group into believing they can play well. Ross Lyon could be forgiven for still being doubtful. The way the Saints have played this week, all the emotion of last week’s victory will have been spent and this week could be great let down with nothing left to show or to play for against the bottom side.

Both sides have inexperienced ruck divisions so this will be a great tussle to watch. Can Rix get over Pattison (although the whisper is that Simmonds WILL actually play). I know he is named and should have some impact at important times in his limited amount of time on the ground.
I worry about St. Kilda’s goal-kicking. IF the midfielders don’t kick them, I don’t know where they will come from, especially as I am tipping an emotional and psychological let-down after last week.

Ball, Dal Santo, Hayes and the Evergreen Veteran will get plenty of opportunity and will have to be careful not to underestimate Tuck, Foley, King, Hyde and Raines. If they do, I tip trouble.

In fact I tip it anyway. Richmond by 15 points in an upset.

St Kilda
B: Blake Hudghton Baker
HB: Gram S Fisher L Fisher
C: Fiora Hayes Montagna
HF: Harvey Riewoldt X Clarke
FOR: Milne Gehrig Voss
FOLL: Rix Dal Santo Rover: Ball
INTER: Attard R Clarke Thompson Gilbert
EMERG: Birss Watts Ferguson
IN: Gehrig
OUT: Koschitzke (hamstring)

B: Thursfield J Bowden King
HB: Raines Polak Newman
C: Hyde Tuck White
HF: Deledio Richardson Pettifer
FOR: Tivendale Brown Tambling
FOLL: Pattison Johnson Rover: Foley
INTER: Edwards Howat Jackson Simmonds
EMERG: Riewoldt Moore Hughes
IN: Edwards Simmonds
OUT: Krakouer (ankle) Hughes

Saturday 30 June

Brisbane Lions v Port Adelaide,
Gabba @ 7.10pm

How can we get excited about this game. Two non-victorian teams playing in Brisbane and both teams sort of struggling to find their feet during a turbulent rebuilding phase.
You would have to think that Port just have their noses in front in that regard, given that they have won 7 games, and even though they lost a few on the trot, last rounds win against a previously rampant Essendon will give it confidence to move onwards and upwards, especially with Tredders getting amongst it. And how good are the kids? Westhoff and Gray. Sensational effort by these two kids. Collingwood wants to talk up its first year players but if these two continue to go unheralded here in Melbourne, they will turn into great players without anyone even knowing who they are.

Leigh Matthews looks to have the world on his shoulders at the moment. The effervescent old-timer doesn’t seem to smile or communicate with his usual pzazz anymore and it must be a worry that his side is struggling. It must be even more of a worry that his big name drawcard is struggling under the weight of expectation week-in, week-out. Browny can’t do it all by himself and the side is suffering because of it. He tries hard, but has little assistance from blokes like Patfull, Sherman, NOtting. I criticised St. Kilda as being a whole team of NUTS last week. Well the Lions are not quite that bad because they are really struggling to make a name for themselves as individuals apart from those who we already know about. Old blokes.

It seems they are just going through the motions (much like me in this preview) but I will continue on.
Interesting to see Copeland and Roe out of the side. There will be a huge reliance on the same-ole, same-ole’s in Power, Black, Lappin and Brown and blokes like Merrett on Tredders, Brennan on Ebert, Adcock on Gray and possibly MacDonald on Westhoff have to make a stand for their club, their coach and themselves. It starts now for these blokes because they are on notice.

At Alberton Oval however, the only way is up after last round effort. Whilst there has been a few hiccups in recent weeks prior to the Essendon game, the players are playing committed footy and are playing as a unified group. Sad to see Salopek gone but great to see Motlop back to see if he still has something to offer the club.

Port should win this game easily, and the only winner for Lethal will be if he sees something… anything.. in the development of younger players who have so far not lived up to expectations.

Port by 25 points.

B: MacDonald, Merrett, Brennan
HB: Adcock, Drummond, Begley
C: Notting, Lappin, Stiller
HF: Sherman, Brown, Selwood
F: Rischitelli, Patfull, McGrath
FOLL: Charman, Black, Power
I/C: Wood, Hadley, Dzufer, Proud
EM: Copeland, Roe, Hooper
IN: Dzufer, Power
OUT: Copeland, Row
NEW: Daniel Dzufer, 2006 AFL Rookie Draft from Northern Eagles

Port Adelaide
B: Thurstans, Wakelin, Wilson
HB: Pettigrew, C.Cornes, Surjan
C: Cassisi, S.Burgoyne, Rodan
HF: Pearce, Tredrea, Gray
F: Westhoff, Lade, Ebert
FOLL: Brogan, K.Cornes, P.Burgoyne
I/C: Bentley, Boak, Lonie, Motlop
EM: White, Thompson, Carlile
IN: Bentley, Lonie, Motlop
OUT: Salopek (ankle), Symes, White

Check back soon for the final previews.

Sunday, 12:40pm CST, AAMI Stadium

B: Bassett, Rutten, Johncock
HB: Torney, Stevens, McLeod
C: Mattner, Shirley, van Berlo
HF: Edwards, Bock, Knights
F: McGregor, Ricciuto, Welsh
FOLL: Hudson, Doughty, Thompson
I/C from: Griffin, Massie, Maric, Jericho, Douglas, Reilly, Porplyzia
IN: Douglas, Maric, Reilly
OUT: Nil

West Coast
B: Hurn, Glass, B.Jones
HB: Waters, Hunter, Selwood
C: Rosa, Embley, Braun
HF: Chick, C.Jones, Nicoski
F: LeCras, Lynch, Seaby
FOLL: Cox, Kerr, Priddis
I/C from: R.Jones, Graham, Armstrong, Brown, Fletcher, McKinley, Wirrpanda
IN: C.Jones, Armstrong, Brown, Embley, Fletcher, McKinley
OUT: Stenglein (knee), Staker (leg), Morton

Sunday, 2:10pm AEST, MCG

Pratt, Petrie, Lower
HB: Smith, Firrito, Rawlings
C: Archer, Harris, Sinclair
HF: Wells, Edwards, Grant
F: Jones, Brown, Swallow
FOLL: McIntosh, Simpson, Harvey
I/C from: Thomas, Green, Hale, Sansbury, Watt, McMahon, Whyman
IN: Wells, Green, McMahon, Whyman
OUT: Campbell
NEW: Djaran Whyman, 2006 Rookie Elevation from North Ballarat

B: McMahon, Harris, Morris
HB: Gilbee, Williams, Hargrave
C: Harbrow, West, Akermanis
HF: Giansiracusa, Johnson, Hahn
F: Grant, Darcy, Higgins
FOLL: Street, Cooney, Boyd
I/C from: Addison, Lynch, Ray, Everitt, Power, Minson, Robbins
IN: Everitt, Grant, Minson, Power, Robbins
OUT: Eagleton (susp), Murphy (hamstring)

Sunday, 4:40pm AEST, Telstra Dome

B: Swan, Wakelin, Maxwell
HB: H.Shaw, O’Brien, Goldsack
C: Pendlebury, Licuria, Lockyer
HF: Johnson, Cloke, Didak
F: Thomas, Reid, Fraser
FOLL: Richards, O’Bree, Burns
I/C from: Davis, Clarke, Cox, Stanley, Iles, Holland, Medhurst
IN: Reid, Iles, Medhurst, O’Brien
OUT: Rocca (susp)
NEW: Ben Reid, Selection No.8 2006 NAB AFL Draft, from Murray Under-18s

B: Brown, Gilham, Guerra
HB: Ladson, Croad, Sewell
C: Birchall, Mitchell, Smith
HF: Lewis, Franklin, McGlynn
F: Bateman, Roughead, Boyle
FOLL: Campbell, Hodge, Crawford
I/C from: Young, Osborne, Taylor, Ellis, Jacobs, Thorpe, Muston
IN: Franklin, Muston, Thorpe
OUT: Nil