The previews below are written by

MCG, 7:40pm

B: Newman, J.Bowden, Polak
HB: Raines, Gaspar, Moore
C: Polo, Johnson, Hyde
HF: Pettifer, Schulz, Deledio
F: Krakouer, Richardson, Tambling
FOLL: Simmonds, Tuck, Foley
I/C: Howat, Tivendale, Pattison, McGuane
EM: King, P.Bowden, Jackson
IN: Simmonds
OUT: P.Bowden

B: Lockyer, Prestigiacomo, Cox
HB: H.Shaw, Clement, R.Shaw
C: Pendlebury, Toovey, Thomas
HF: Maxwell, Cloke, Licuria
F: Swan, Rocca, Medhurst
FOLL: Fraser, O’Bree, Dick
I/C: Burns, Davis, O’Brien, Richards
EM: Nicholls, Wakelin, Iles
IN: Cox, Toovey, Dick
OUT: Johnson (ankle), Wakelin, Nicholls
NEW: Shannon Cox, 21

Much has been made of the rivalry these two clubs built up over the years but for the younger generations, it seems to have waned a bit over the past 25 since both clubs have achieved little success on the Premiership ladder. Sadly, I don’t think this game will live up to the hype that the medja are trying to build around it. The ghosts of Cloke, Raines, Rioli and Daicos have well and truly died at both Punt Rd and Vic Park-cum-McHale-cum-Lexus-cum whatever Oval. Luckily however there are a few sons of those great players still strutting around for each side.
Collingwood have started ’07 in reasonable form while Richmond would be disappointed not to be 2-0 at this stage. They have had chances in both matches but have obviously just come up short – lacking the skills and polish to finish a game strongly.
No matter what, this game will count for a lot as the Tiges will want to improve on their poor start to the year.
The inclusion of Troy Simmonds will help Richmond, especially against Fraser and Richards who tend to struggle a bit at times, and the space on the MCG should suit Richmond’s running and short chipping game a lot. Malthouse will have to drill into his charges a plan to combat this crappy chip-and-run golf game that Wallace likes to play.
Collingwood have included 3 new players this week to combat the lack of leg-speed and also the jetlag from their Perth trip last week. It is smart thinking from Malthouse to provide three untried and fresh players against a team that has struggled so far in ’07 but I feel it may backfire. I can’t see Collingwood keeping up with McGuane, (especially as the Argus website has him listed twice – or there are two of them playing – another medja watch mistake), Deledio, Tambling and Tivendale. Joel Bowden should easily account for Rocca, thus limiting Collingwood’s avenues to goal and I think the tiger will come out on top by 15 points.
Funnily enough, the Argus website also has only two Collingwood players listed “from the backline”. Get your act together

Saturday, 2:10pm AEST, MCG

B: Houlihan, S.O’hAilpin, Thornton,
HB: Scotland, Whitnall, Walker
C: Simpson, Stevens, Lappin
HF: Carrazzo, Waite, Fisher
F: Betts, Fevola, Kennedy
FOLL: Cloke, Gibbs, Murphy
I/C: Ackland, Bentick, Russell, Wiggins
EM: Blackwell, Anderson, Hartlett
No Changes

B: Ryder, Michael, McVeigh
HB: McPhee, Fletcher, Slattery
C: Stanton, Hird, Monfries
HF: M.Johnson, Lucas, Lovett
F: Jetta, Lloyd, Watson
FOLL: Hille, Winderlich, Peverill
I/C: Lovett-Murray, Davey, Heffernan, Laycock
EM: Bradley, Johns, Dyson
IN: Lovett-Murray
OUT: Welsh

Forget about the “Showdown” or the “Derby”, this is where the real Rivalry exists in footy. These two clubs detest each other with an absolute passion. Whether it stems back to the 1947 Grand Final that Carlton won by 3 points, the 1962 Grand Final that Essendon won easily, the 1968 GF that Carlton won by kicking less goals than it’s opponent, the early 80’s dominance of the Bombre’s over the Blues in 10 consecutive games including the 1981 night GF with Timmy Watson’s leap of faith, the 1993 GF where Silvagni touched Long’s goal, or the ’99 Prelim (say no more), is irrelevant. There is a passionate hatred of all things navy blue down at Windy Hill and rightly so.
Essendon will be keen to atone for last years results where they suffered a defeat and a draw at the hands of an insipid and pathetic Carlton side and with Hird back in almost ‘career-best form’, they will be looking to inflict a lot of pain on the Blues. Lucas has been unstoppable so far this year and the Blues don’t seem to have anyone to match up on him sufficiently. His quick leading, good hands and long kicking will have either Thornton or Waite in a lot of trouble. The midfield delivery from the Bombre’s will also be of the highest quality.
Winderlich has stepped up now he is not injured, McPhee looks more committed and focused, Slattery and Stanton have grown in stature and the injection of Jetta and Davey have taken the pressure off Monfries, Lovett and Johnson in the midfield. I can’t see the Blues getting close to be honest.
Looking at the teams, it is difficult to see a match-up that Carlton can exploit. All in all, it augers well for Essendon and another 3 year Sheedy contract. Bombre’s by 6 goals minimum.

Saturday, 2:10pm CST, AAMI STADIUM

B: Thurstans, Wakelin, Surjan
HB: Wilson, C.Cornes, Cassisi
C: Lonie, S.Burgoyne, Salopek
HF: P.Burgoyne, Tredrea, Rodan
F: Ebert, White, Pettigrew
FOLL: Brogan, K.Cornes, Pearce
I/C: Bentley, Krakouer, Lade, Mahoney
EM: Chaplin, Logan, Symes
IN: Tredrea, Bentley, Wakelin
OUT: Chaplin, Cockshell (ankle), Logan

B: Doughty, Rutten, Bassett
HB: McLeod, Stevens, Torney
C: Knights, Goodwin, van Berlo
HF: Burton, Bock, Reilly
F: Bode, Welsh, Perrie
FOLL: Hudson, Edwards, Thompson
I/C: Griffen, Douglas, Mattner, Porplyzia
EM: Massie, Vince, Hinge
IN: Burton, Porplyzia
OUT: Johncock (ankle), Shirley (hand)

What does “form” really mean? Adelaide’s form in Round 1 was non-existent while Port’s “form” so far has been exceptional. The thing with “form” is that it is so fleeting. Just a player can run in and out of form over the space of week, so to can a whole team. The “Two-Man Band” had it right when they sang in their legendary song…”There are days when you could give it up, there are days when you could fly”.

So where will this game be won and lost. I think the key to this game is actually in the Port forward line. Forgetting that Tredders is back in town for his first game this year, I feel that young Ebert is really the player on whom this game will turn. He is keen, no doubt about that, and he plays with a lot of passion but I think to be more effective he needs to temper his enthusiasm somewhat and focus on the moment. He tends to run around in a highly-excited state from what I have seen and this may be nervous energy or possibly a lack of self-belief that he really belongs in the big time but he HAS the skill and ability to do freakish things.
Brendon Lade needs to recapture some of his form from last year as he is without doubt the barometer down there at Alberton, and with Brogan do
ing exceptionally well in the ruck so far this year, his output has been limited. The other big names will get a lot of the ball – the Cornes’, the Burgoynes’ etc and Rodan/Salopek will continue their improvment.
For the Crows, Hudson is coming along nicely (good Dreamteam points), and it remains to be seen if Bock, Welsh and Perrie can continue their goal-kicking extravaganza of last week. Expect Knights to really step up in this game for Adelaide and have a real impact in the midfield, and from Port’s point of view, Nathan Lonie will be looking to use his trade-mark run down the wing and bomb from 50 to great effect.
Adelaide y 2 goals.

Saturday, 5:40pm AEST, Subiaco

B: Wirrpanda, Glass, B.Jones
HB: Waters, Hunter, Hurn
C: Rosa, Selwood, Braun
HF: Stenglein, Staker, Chick
F: Embley, Lynch, Cox
FOLL: Seaby, Judd, Kerr
I/C: Armstrong, Hansen, R.Jones, Priddis
EMG: Brown, LeCras, Graham
IN: Cox, Hansen
OUT: Graham, Brown

B: Hayden, McPharlin, Parker
HB: Mundy, Grover, Dodd
C: Headland, J.Carr, McManus
HF: Hasleby, Pavlich, Solomon
F: Bell, Tarrant, Longmuir
FOLL: Sandilands, M.Carr, Cook
I/C: Browne, Crowley, Gilmore, Walker
EM: Campbell, Duffield, Webster
IN: Dodd, Cook, Longmuir
OUT: Peake (collarbone), Webster, Duffield

It may sound silly to suggest that this is a crunch game for Freo so early in the season but that is what it amounts to. Lose this and they are really back in the doldrums for 2007. Win and they are amongst those that could do anything. For a team that was much-fancied at the start of the year they have been the biggest disappointment. So much promise, some good recruiting and two very poor games to start the year. Tsk, tsk, tsk!!
What can you say about the Eagles. They have taken the off-field drama in their collective stride and move on and upwards to better things. They barely miss their former skipper because they are so well balances all over the ground and are exceptionally well coached. Perhaps the drama has given them focus and a steely resolve to play at their very best and not suffer the dreaded “Hangover”.
Cox comes back into the side and he will play a pivotal part because he is so good around the ground. That is where Sandilands will not keep up with Cox and Seaby. They are more mobile and better users of the ball so expect an armchair ride for Judd, Kerr, et al. Glass can easily cover Pavlich and Hunter on Tarrant would suit the Eagles but it will be a couple of quality match-ups. Josh Carr will do his best to niggle Judd all day but he better be prepared for a hell of a ride after copping a caning from an ageing James Hird last week. Forget that niggle Josh and get the damn footy!
I think the game-breakers for each side could be Stenglein of the Gestapon and Dessie Headland for the Dockers. Des really needs to justify his position in the game as a high draft pick instead of coasting along doing the bare minimum. He is a very very quick, skilled and tough player yet seems content to float through his career without getting the best out of himself.
West Coast by 3 goals.

Saturday, 7:15pm AEST, Telstra Dome

B: Attard, S.Fisher, L.Fisher
HB: X.Clarke, Gram, Fiora
C: Blake, Hayes, Harvey
HF: Montagna, Riewoldt, Thompson
F: Milne, Gehrig, Koschitzke
FOLL: M.Clarke, Baker, Dal Santo
I/C: Goddard, Jones, Rix, Brooks
EMG: Gwilt, McQualter, Voss
IN: Riewoldt, Brooks, Jones
OUT: Hudghton (quad), Birss, McQualter
NEW: Clinton Jones,Recruited from South Fremantle, WAFL. 23yo, 183 cms, 83kgs. Jones won the South Fremantle’s best and fairest award in 2006 and 2005 and came third in the 2006 Sandover Medal. Selection No.9 in the 2006 NAB AFL Rookie Draft (St Kilda’s first round selection).

B: McMahon, Harris, Morris
HB: Gilbee, Wight, Hargrave
C: Eagleton, S.West, Cross
HF: Giansiracusa, Johnson, Ray
F: Murphy, Darcy, Higgins
FOLL: Minson, Griffen, Cooney
I/C: Boyd, Addison, Power, Street
EM: Robbins, Faulkner, McDougall
IN: Addison, Harris, Street
OUT: Akermanis (hamstring), McDougall, Robbins

The whisper on the street is that Matty Clarke will miss this game with an injury. The only good thing that will come out of that is that it will mean the Saints will have to bring in a smaller player to play a “run-with” role against any number of the Doggies smaller blokes. The Western Oval would have been all doom and gloom last week after copping a trouncing, and they will be focused on how to avoid a repeat of that this week. S
t. Kilda are not a tall side either but they do welcome back NUTS Riewoldt for his fist game of the year. Don’t expect much impact against Wight or even Hargrave however. I think it will take Nick a few weeks to find his feet again after an extended lay off. The Saints backline looks reasonably settled with the Fisher boys playing good rebounding footy, and Gram continues to improve although they all were touched up last week by a team they under-estimated. For me, Milne is a real concern. He just seems to waste his time on the ground by trying to be too sneaky and tricky. There are times when being conservative and stable get your more accolades than being flashy and foolish and I think Milne needs someone to drum this into his head for him to become a better footballer. Most of his opponents will have studied his play and will KNOW that he likes to baulk around almost all the time. For mine, Goddard looms as the barometer for the Saints this week and he should be played as a half-back on someone like Murphy.
Anyway, the Doggies will be jolted into action after last weeks disappointment. They will get some more run in their legs and maybe a few home truths from Rocket Eade during the week will have them thinking “team” as opposed to “self”. Expect Cross, Ray, Griffen and Gilbee to really rebound strongly and give Johnno/Murphy and Darcy every opportunity to kick a big score.
I think this will be a close game with the Doggies getting home by a goal or less.

Sunday, 1:10pm AEST, SCG

B: Richards, Barry, Malceski
HB: Kennelly, C.Bolton, Dempster
C: Buchanan, Kirk, Mathews
HF: R.O’Keefe, O’Loughlin, J.Bolton
F: McVeigh, Hall, Ablett
FOLL: Jolly, Goodes, Fosdike
I/C: Everitt, Grundy, Schmidt, Schneider
EM: Laidlaw, Moore, Vogels
No Changes

B: Begley, Merrett, Mills
HB: Adcock, Brennan, Copeland
C: Sherman, Fixter, Stiller
HF: Johnson, Brown, Notting
F: Rischitelli, Patfull, McGrath
FOLL: Wood, Black, Power
I/C: McDonald, Moody, Hadley, Harding
EM: Hawksley, Charman, Allan
IN: Hadley
OUT: Allan

Merrett on Hall. Copeland to take O’Loughlin. Notting and Goodes to play wide of each other. Brown to have minimal impact. Patful to kick 3 and McGrath to kick 4. Richards to take a hang. The Sherminator to weave some magic late in the last term. Game breaker could well be the unassuming Jude Bolton. Rischitelli to kick the winning goal after a Kennelly error in the pocket.
None of this sounds very likely does it. But then again a lot that has happened in footy 2007-style has seemed unlikely.
Barry Hall has an injured knee an even if he does p
lay, his output will be limited. Merrett would be well within his rights to accidently-on-purposely fall over it in a marking contest. Congratulations to MIckey O for his 250th game. A great effort. Jed Adcock should take O’Keefe to run with him and just limit his opportunties to get near the ball.
Captain Kink will obviously get a lot of it but if there is enough pressure on him, his disposal can be a bit suspect. It will be incumbent upon blokes like Fixter, Stiller, Johnson and Sherman to ensure that NONE of the Sydney midfielders get easy possessions.
I am tipping Brisbane, simply because the Swannies start slowly, and Barry Hall will be a big loss. Sydney will be better if he doesn’t play in my opinion. The Lions by 23 points

Sunday, 2:10pm AEST, MCG

B: Holland, Carroll, Whelan
HB: Ward, Wheatley, Bell
C: Moloney, McDonald, Green
HF: Bruce, Miller, Bate
F: Godfrey, Jamar, Davey
FOLL: White, Jones, Johnstone
I/C: Yze, Brown, P.Johnson, Ferguson,
EM: C.Johnson, Petterd, Bizzell
IN: P.Johnson, Ferguson, Yze, Holland
OUT: D.Neitz [medial ligament], R.Robertson [knee], J.Rivers [hamstring soreness], C.Johnson

B: Mackie, Scarlett, Enright
HB: J.Hunt, Egan, Milburn
C: Wojcinski, Bartel, Byrnes
HF: Chapman, Mooney, Kelly
F: N.Ablett, Ottens, G.Ablett
FOLL: Blake, Ling, Corey
I/C: Prismall, Hawkins, Varcoe, D.Johnson,
EM: Selwood, Gardiner, Tenace
IN: D.Johnson, Tenace, Kelly
OUT: Selwood, Gardiner

Geelong is on top of the world after its easy spifflication of an insipid Carlton last week. It’s not like the Kitty Cats to get too far ahead of themselves after one game… NOT. They are talking it up already down at Corio Bay and are in danger of coming a serious cropper this week.
Luckily for Bombre Thompson – (You can take Bomber out of Essendon but you can’t take the Bombre’ out of Bomber) that they run into a very depleted and disappointing Melbourne outfit. No Neitz, no Robertson, no Rivers and no Bartram.
No Demons to hold Mooney, the Ablett Brothers abd Chapman.
In fact, Chappy would have to be one of the very few Cats who didn’t play around in the kitty litter last week. In comparison, all the other Geelong players did what they wanted and Chappy had a relatively quite night. He will be due for a bit of redemption. I can see Clint Bizzell playing his first game for ages and may well stand Chapman as the third forward.
Carroll will take the Big Hairy Cat, Whelan will take Ablett Jnr-Snr and Ward may well take Ablett Jnr-Jnr.
Aaron Davey MUST produce something but he won’t find it easy against Mackie or possibly even Wojcinkski – the latter providing a lot of run from half-back with his exceptional pace.
Where Melbourne may have a chance is in the rucking division. White and Jamar should be too good for Blake and Ottens – both of whom will find rucking against true ruckmen a harder task than last week.
This game should be close for about 2 1/2 quarters but the Cats will run away with it after that for a 6 goal win.

Sunday, 5:10pm AEST, Telstra Dome

B: Firrito, Petrie, Rawlings
HB: Sinclair, Watt, Pratt
C: Grant, Harris, Swallow
HF: Harvey, Brown, Hale
F: Jones, Edwards, Thomas
FOLL: McIntosh, Simpson, Wells
I/C: Green, Sansbury, Gibson, Campbell
EM: Trotter, Riggio, Hansen
IN: Gibson, Green, Sansbury, Campbell
OUT: Archer (foot), Trotter, Riggio, Hansen

B: Jacobs, Croad, Guerra
HB: Brown, Gilham, Birchall
C: Ladson, Mitchell, Lewis
HF: Crawford, Franklin, Young
F: Williams, Boyle, Dixon
FOLL: Taylor, Hodge, Sewell
I/C: Campbell, Ellis, McGlynn, Osborne
EM: Roughead, Muston, Thurgood
IN: Osborne
OUT: Clarke (achilles)

This really should be a walk in the park for Hawthorn if you listen to their supporters, the medja, their coach and just about anyone involved in the game. The young Hawks are going to be superstars apparently. well, we waited with baited breath last year and so far in 2007, they have done little to justify that hype. Maybe the whole team should be in the Explosion’s Bag of Cashews. There are certainly about 10 of them who could lay claim to be NUTS.
Trent Croad is a guy who could have been anything but for whatever reason decided he had to leave the nest just when he was on the verge of greatness. He has yet to recapture that aura since his return a few years ago. Crawford is just getting old and whilst he can play the odd great game, it is the ability to do it every week that he no longer has. Luke Hodge is a champion – no doubt- yet has not done enough to justify his choice ahead of Chris Judd in the same Draft.
Where Hawthorn should win this game is NOT with those big names, it is with names like Birchall, Sewell, and Tim Boyle. These are the unassuming blokes who just do the job without trying to look or play in a flashy manner. Blokes who come under the radar to play solid, consistent footy week-in, week-out.
For North, their way forward will be with Lachlan Hansen, McIntosh, Pratt and Riggio. Whether the old reliable veterans like Simpson, Harvey, Grant and Petrie can do they job on the up-coming Hawks will remain to be seen but on first look at the teams, you wouldn’t imagine they would. However, the Shinboners have played reasonable footy so far this year as a UNIT and a TEAM against better rated opposition and this will hold them in good stead. It is the sort of game that North will win and I am tipping them – against the odds.
North by 8 points.