The previews below are written by

Wednesday, April 25
Essendon v Collingwood (MCG) 2:40pm

This game could be as dull as bathwater for most of the footyballing community but for the benefit of those Essendon and Collingwood supporters, I will give a little preview.
The Sherminator’s are back on track with a 3-1 start to the year and the Wobblies wouldn’t be too disappointed with it’s start, given the horrendous injury list it is enjoying at the moment.
There is only one unknown in this match, and that is Alan Didak. Last years B&F winner should play, but given his limited preparation after his knee injury, his ability to perform is the only thing that will alter the natural course of this match.
With Didak performing well up forward, the Pies are a real chance. Add to that Josh Fraser and Rocca who is hitting his straps, and the Pies will really run Essendon to a close contest.
Matthew Lloyd will obviously be the focal point and will find life tough against James Clement. Another good match-up will be Prestigiacomo on Lucas although with the form that Lucus is in, Malthouse may need to find a more mobile player to take the Bombre playmaker. It is hard to see who that may possibly be and Lucas remains the key to this game from the Bomber’s point of view. If his output is stimied, then they will find kicking a winning score quite difficult. If he plays, Courtney Johns must show some of the agro for which he is known down at Windy Hill.
Stanton and Slattery for Essendon have really taken a leap forward in their development and have provided a lot of run off half-back and through the midfield and will do the same again however they will find it difficult against the gutsy Burns and Swann.
For Collingwood, the Shaw boys keep on knocking up getting kicks and should be able to stifle the likes of Monfries and Davey.
I am tipping a close game but the Bomber’s to have too much up forward for the Pies, and to win by 14 points.

Friday, April 27
Port Adelaide v St. Kilda (AAMI) 7:40pm

Good to see the Saints are living up to expectations so far in 2007. It has been decimated by injury to its key defenders and regardless of how well-performing it’s forwards are, it needs to be able to stop the opposition scoring and at the moment, it is just not capable of doing that effectively.
Port Adelaide has snuck under everyone’s radar and have become a solid and tight defensive unit, as well as being very adequate in attack. Surprisingly, it is the small forwards who have really been a boon for Port.
How did Richmond ever let Rodan go? Wallace needs his head read because Rodan has become vitally important to Port up forward. He can play tall or small for his size and he knows where the goals are. He has been a great pick up by Choco.
No need to mention the main names, we all know them. The underrated players such as Surjan, Symes, Lonie and Pettigrew are all doing important jobs and they are doing them exceptionally well.
For the Saints, Kosi will have to start at CHB due to the lack of height down there and will take Tredders although Goddard should start there and thrive on the added responsibility. There seems to be a bit more stability with Voss making his long-awaited return and he could take Rodan. Gram will be important on Mahoney and the Brogan/Lade v M Clarke match-up will be a highlight. The best match-up of the game will be Hayes and Co. v Burgoyne and Co. At home, you would imagine the Power would have the advantage and I am tipping them by 26 points.

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

B: Gilbert, Goddard, L.Fisher
HB: Voss, Koschitzke, Gram
C: Blake, Hayes, Harvey
HF: Montagna, Riewoldt, Ball
F: Brooks, Gehrig, Milne
FOLL: M.Clarke, Baker, Dal Santo
I/C: Attard, X.Clarke, Fiora, Thompson
EMG: Gwilt, McQualter, Rix
IN: Brooks, Gehrig, Gilbert, Voss
OUT: S.Fisher, Gwilt, McQualter, Rix

Field umpires: McBurney, Stevic, Grun

Saturday, April 28
Richmond v West Coast (MCG) 2:10pm

Bring your alarm clock and set it to go off at 4.55pm when this game is over. West Coast had a training run last week against Carlton and while the Tigers are performing a bit better throughout each of their games this year according to the Reality Ladder, they are way short of the mark against the best team in the comp.
Wallace will try to shut down the West Coast runners but really, does he expect Johnson, Hyde, Tivendale, Foley and Tuck to match it with Judd and Kerr, notwithstanding the fact that there is Braud, Embleyand Priddis there as well. As a surprise, look for young McGuane to run with Kerr as a shadow. McGuane has been getting a lot of the ball and this could be a great education for him as Wallace will look to move him into the midfield later in the year.
The Tiger will try to play it’s crap brand of chip and run golfing footy but this relies on precision of skill and the Tiges just don’t possess this and will get killed on the rebound.
Simmonds should do reasonably well against Cox at least in the ruck duels but the big Eagle loves getting around the ground and will pick up a bundle of possessions. For the Eagles, as well as the aforementioned stars, the two Jones boys are also very dangerous and will provide plenty of run and long kicks down to big Q who will be looking to improve on last week after being beaten by the Irishman.
There is not much to say about this game. Richmond may stretch the Coolers into the third term but after that, class will bear out and I can see a cricket score in the making if the rains stays away.
West Coast by 38 points in the wet.

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

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

Field umpires: Wenn, Ryan, Pannell

Saturday, April 28
Carlton v Brisbane Lions (Telstra Dome) 7:10pm

Could we possibly talk this game up as being the re-match of the NAB Cup Grand Final. No!! Please…let’s not. Now that the real season is upon us, that hybrid match is well and truly forgotten and thank God for that.
The Blues however will be buoyed by the result of that match and whilst there is a lo
t of different personnel on both sides, they will fancy their chances.
As in that match it will be worth going to see purely for the Brown/o”hAilpin match-up. The Irishman is learning his footy, no doubt about it, and will hold his own against Brown. If JB is on-song however, look out! The Blues really don’t have any other option who can go with him strength on strength and it is a credit to the number 17 that he takes it all in his stride and continues to improve.
After the smashing that Murphy, Gibbs, Simpson, Russell all received last week they will be wanting to redeem themselves somewhat but will find it difficult against Power, Black, Fixter, Sherman and Stiller. Notting looms as a huge threat and don’t be surprised to see Waite line-up on him. This would leave Thornton on Patful and possibly Houlihan on McGrath (danger Will Robinson.. danger…danger..)
xpect to see Cloke up forward and play as a bustling pack-breaker and Brennan will have his hands full if Cloke can continue to present as a looming target. Merrett should have a great battle with Fevola and the game could well be won or lost depending upon which Fevola shows up. Will it be the clown prince who has been wasting my time for 10 years or will it be the hero of all heroes who kicked 8 against the Bombre’s. I am tipping the former. Sad to see Fisher out injured again thanks to the Clown Prince too. Fool!
For the Lions, Copeland is an unknown and he will take Murphy again.
I would love the tip the Blues but I think the Lions may have enough up their sleeves to win by 18 points.

B: Gibbs, S.O’hAilpin, Thornton,
HB: Scotland, Whitnall, Houlihan
C: Waite, Bentick, Walker
HF: Carrazzo, Cloke, Wiggins
F: Kennedy, Fevola, Lappin
FOLL: Ackland, Murphy, Simpson
I/C: Anderson, Betts, Jackson, Russell
EM: Blackwell, Hartlett, Bower
IN: Jackson
OUT: Fisher

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

Field umpires: Donlon, James, Head

Saturday, April 28
Sydney v Melbourne (SCG) 7:10pm

The Capital City Grudge Match..(oohh c’mon,,,I have to try and talk it up).
With the Dees wallowing on the bottom and not looking like getting a win, all they can do here is try to limit the damage. So many injuries and so little to show for it, the Preacher will be saying his prayers this week. (Can these previews get any more cliched?)

Paul Roos will be incensed by the insipid performance of his charges last week and will implore them to play the type of footy that has seen them become so successful over the past two years. It will be a lot easier against Melbourne than it was in Adelaide.
Carroll has not been performing as well in ’07 as he has previously and Barry Hall should have a field day, kicking 6. In fact there aren’t any of the Dees Class of 2006 that IS showing any form. Time for Colin Sylvia to justify his place in the side or he will be a real NUTS player not just now, but in the years to come as well. Pickett should be hard at the ball in his second game back and Jamar also needs to take that step forward to make him worthy of a position. This is another bloke who could be anything. Big, stong, a good mark and hard at the ball, he should be able to intimidate opponents but just doesn’t put his stamp on the game very often. His duel with Leo Barry looks like being a one-way street.
In the middle, Kirk, Buchanananananan….., Schneider and McVeigh will have too much run and skill for McDonald, Moloney, Davey and Bate. Good to see the Shepp boy, Yze, get back amongst the possessions last week and he will weave some magic but unfortunately not enough.
Darren Jolly has been scared into playing good footy with the inclusion of Spida Everitt lately and has been doing exceptionally well. Good for him.
In a nutshell, Sydney will be out for redemption and will smash the hapless Dees by 8 goals.

B: Richards, Barry, Malceski
HB: Kennelly, C.Bolton, Mathews
C: Buchanan, Kirk, McVeigh
HF: R.O’Keefe, O’Loughlin, J.Bolton
F: Schneider, Hall, Ablett
FOLL: Jolly, Goodes, Fosdike
I/C: Everitt, Davis, Schmidt, Crouch
EM: Grundy, Moore, Laidlaw
IN: Davis
OUT: Grundy

B: Bruce, Carroll, P.Johnson
HB: Brown, Rivers, Bell
C: Moloney, McDonald, Yze
HF: Johnson, Miller, Pickett
F: Dunn, Jamar, Davey
FOLL: White, Bate, Johnstone
I/C: Petterd, Godfrey, Sylvia, Garland
EM: Bizzell, Ward, Buckley
IN: Rivers, Moloney, Johnstone, C.Johnson, Petterd, Garland
OUT: Wheatley, Whelan, Jones, Green, Ward, Bizzell
NEW: Ricky Petterd, pick No.30 in 2006 NAB AFL Draft from Broadbeach QLD; Colin Garland, pick No.46 in 2006 NAB AFL Draft from Tassie Mariners

Field umpires: Kennedy, Rosebury, M.Nicholls

Sunday, April 29
Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs (MCG)1:10pm

This could well be game of the round. Both teams are playing quite good footy, even though the Doggies went through a bit of a trough a few weeks ago. It is imperative for the Doggies to get away to a good start on the scoreboard and have 8-10 goals in the first half. Hawthorns tend to play a crap, choking brand of footy in the first half to keep scores low, hoping to over-run it’s opponents in the second half and so far it has worked pretty well in the last 3 weeks.
Williams is missing up forward for the Hawks so it will incumbent upon Franklin, Roughead and Boyle to bring up the slack. One danger man is Dixon. The evergreen veteran may be getting on in footy years but is still as tough as ever and could well bob up when required unless Footscray cover him well. I would suggest McMahon on him to provide some dash out of the backline.
Down back, Brad Sewell continues his outstanding start to the year and you may well find him playing on Johnson as a surprise move. Guerra should take Aker and give him some niggle, and Brown on Giansiracusa would be a good matchup.
If the Doggies don’t get good run from their midfield, they will be in trouble. Eagleton needs to start kicking goals again or he will no longer be my barometer down there at the Western Oval. I can’t see Hodge lining up at CHB either. This is purely a furphy from Clarkson. Maybe he will take Murphy for a while although Clarkson would want to see Hodge in the thick of the action.
In what should be an excellent game to watch, expect to see the Doggies get up by 10 points.

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

B: McMahon, Harris, Morris
HB: Gilbee, Wight, Hargrave
C: Eagleton, S.West, Cross
HF: Giansiracusa, Johnson, Griffen
F: Murphy, Darcy, Akermanis
FOLL: Minson, Boyd, Cooney
I/C: Ray, Power, Higgin
s, Robbins
EM: Addison, Williams, Harbrow
IN: Akermanis, Cross, Power
OUT: Addison, Williams, Harbrow

Field umpires: Chamberlain, Avon, K.Nicholls

Sunday, April 29
Geelong v Kangaroos (Skilled Stadium) 2:10pm

This looms as a danger game for the Cats. Geelong would be expected to win because of its better players (on paper) but the old Shinboners have something to prove each time they go out to play this year and it is unfortunate that they don’t have more to show for their efforts.
Let’s hope some of the hype surrounding “Jumpin’ Jack’s” son dies down or fair dinkum there will be that much spittle come out of Geelong fan’s mouths that they will need to built a moat around the place to keep it from flooding. Let the kid play footy and in 2-3 years time, then laud accolades upon him. He found it tough last week and will find the going hard this week against Gibson.
If Geelong can deliver pin-point passes to it’s forwards, then it will be very hard to stop them kicking a winning score, especially at Kardinia Park. For the Kitties, Enright, Mackie and Johnson are important, not just in stopping their direct opponents, but also in generating run and space on the opposite side of the ground when the Cats do have the ball.
North will need to be aware of this and if Harvey, Swallow, and Campbell get lazy, then the Cats will get a lot of drive and a lot of quality ball down the the Ablett’s and Mooney.
For North, the key players will be McIntosh in the ruck, Simpson as always, and Edwards at full-forward. Let’s hope that Edwards can recapture some of the form that saw him star in the VFL last year.
I can’t see Petrie, Watt and Pratt all holding their own against the big Cat forwards if the delivery is exceptional and at home I can see the Cat’s getting up by 15 points in what should be a close game.

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

B: Archer, Petrie, Gibson
HB: Pratt, Watt, Firrito
C: Wells, Harris, Rawlings
HF: Adams, Brown, Swallow
F: Harvey, Edwards, Campbell
FOLL: McIntosh, Grant, Simpson
I/C from: Sinclair, Jones, Grima, Trotter, Moran, Green, Smith
IN: Adams, Moran, Smith, Trotter
OUT: Thomas (inj)
NEW: Leigh Adams, 2006 AFL Rookie Draft, from Eastern Ranges

Field umpires: McLaren, Sully, Meredith

Sunday, April 29
Fremantle v Adelaide (Subiaco) 4:40pm

Has it all started to happen for the Dockers, finally? Or was last week’s victory against the Dees just that.. only a victory against an undermanned team. This is the week to find out. The Crows will be flying after a hard-fought victory against the Swannies and will wanting to leave their mark on Freo as well.
Obviously from Freo’s point of view, Pavlich is the key but there is a more important key in this game and he is at full-back. Luke McPharlin has had an inauspicious start to the year and has so far done little of note. His match on Perrie could well go a long way towards determining the outcome of this match. I think whichever of the two wins that contest will be the catalyst in winning the game.
On paper, both teams look pretty even although Freo will have to limit the damage that McLeod can cause of half-back. Should they actually try and tag him out of the game at half-back? Freo also needs to stop Burton from getting a lot of the ball. He may not be the greatest skilled player around but he does do special things that lift his team-mates so it might be worth trying to put pressure on him with Solomon.
Sandilands v Hudson is a huge match-up and if Hudson can compete with the big guy around the ground on an even keel then all augers well for the Crows. For mine, Welsh appears to be the darkhorse. Like all Adelaide players he is muchly underrated and comes under the radar a lot but he is a quality player and if he is on song and on target, the Crows will win.
I am tipping the Dockers by 10 points at home.

B: Hayden, McPharlin, Mundy
HB: Grover, Johnson, Dodd
C: McManus, Hasleby, Black
HF: Headland, Pavlich, Solomon
F: Bell, Tarrant, Gilmore
FOLL: Sandilands, M.Carr, J.Carr
I/C from: Cook, Walker, Webster
Campbell, Crowley, Warnock, Collard
IN: Johnson, Warnock, Collard, Cook
OUT: Parker

B: McLeod, Rutten, Bassett
HB: van Berlo, Stevens, Doughty
C: Burton, Goodwin, Mattner
HF: Knights, Bock, Reilly
F: Porplyzia, Perrie, Welsh
FOLL: Hudson, Edwards, Thompson
I/C from: Griffin, Bode, Shirley, Torney, McGregor, Douglas, Vince

Field umpires: Margetts, Allen, Ellis