Mallinder's Musings for round 20
TIGERS V MAGPIES
At the MCG, 7.50pm
RECENT RECORD: Richmond 2 Coll 8.
LAST TIME: R2 2016: Collingwood 13.9 (87) def Richmond 12.14 (86) at the MCG.
LAST WEEK: Rich (23) lost to GWS (111); Coll (91) def WC (72).
NEITHER side is going to make finals, but there is one team playing out the season and one that isn't. Collingwood (8-10) comes off a solid win over West Coast, a dismal Richmond (7-11) goes in off the back of two defeats totalling 158 points. The fact the Magpies are still ranked No.2 for tackling (averaging 79.1 a game) and the Tigers last (at 62.2) says a lot. Despite injuries to forward Alex Fasolo (the star last time with six goals) and Darcy Moore (the 'Rising Star' last week), the Magpies should still get the points.
SWANS V POWER
At the SCG, 1.45pm
RECENT RECORD: Sydney 9 Port 1.
LAST TIME: R14 2015: Sydney 14.10 (94) def Port 12.12 (84) at the SCG.
LAST WEEK: Sydney (137) def Frem (47); PA (173) def BL (79).
BEATING up on Brisbane is one thing, contending with Sydney (13-5) at home another entirely. After kicking its biggest score since 2005, the Power (9-9) faces the league's stingiest defence, on their home deck, where it hasn't won since 2006, losing its past six. For starters, Chad Wingard (five goals last week) and John Butcher (four) face a tougher time trying to get a kick against Nick Smith and Heath Grundy. It remains to be seen how much of the ball they will see with Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery on fire in the middle for the Swans, having shared 86 disposals and four goals against the Dockers.
DEMONS V HAWKS
At the MCG, 2.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Melbourne 0 Hawthorn 10.
LAST TIME: R11 2016: Hawthorn 11.16 (82) def Melbourne 10.4 (62) at the MCG.
LAST WEEK: Melb (66) def GC (64); Haw (74) def Carl (55).
THE Demons (8-10) couldn't end its 14-match losing streak against St Kilda, so what hope do they have of finally beating the Hawks (15-3) after 13 successive defeats. They are with a chance after being level with them heading into the final term of their round-11 match-up. And on a current streak of nine wins, the ladder leaders could be 'due' for a fall. They, of course, won't see it that way, especially as they start building towards yet another finals campaign by loading up with dangerous small forwards Cyril Rioli (general soreness) and Paul Puopolo (hip) after missing last week.
SUNS V GIANTS
At Metricon Stadium, Carrara 4.35pm
RECENT RECORD: Gold Coast 4 GWS 4.
LAST TIME: R8 2016: GWS 22.17 (149) def Gold Coast 9.4 (58) in Sydney.
LAST WEEK: GC (64) lost to Melb (66); GWS (111) def Rich (23).
THE Suns (6-12) are far better placed to meet the Giants than they were in round eight. But the visitors (13-5) should still record a comfortable victory, with them almost at full strength in the middle and the hosts anything but. It's a case here of the best clearance side, GWS (averaging 40.9), taking on the worst, Gold Coast (32.9). Dylan Shiel (who had 35 disposals last time) again looks unstoppable and set to provide the likes of Jeremy Cameron (who booted a club-record seven goals) plenty of scoring opportunities.
CROWS V LIONS
At Adelaide Oval, 7.40pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Adelaide 7 Brisbane 3.
LAST TIME: R21 2015: Adelaide 20.11 (131) def Brisbane 6.8 (44) in Adelaide.
LAST WEEK: Adel (143) def Ess (61); BL (79) lost to PA (173).
CONSIDERING it has the worst percentage of the four teams sitting 13-5, Adelaide will want all guns blazing against the hapless Brisbane (2-16). Whether skipper Taylor Walker, who kicked seven goals in an 87-point win last time, returns from an ankle injury or not, the heaviest scoring team won't be going easy on the worst-performed defence. Playing at the Adelaide Oval, where they've lost three games by margins of 113, 87 and 77 points, only adds to the Lions' concerns. At least ruckman Stef Martin and young forward Josh Schache will make the trip.
BULLDOGS V KANGAROOS
At Etihad Stadium, Melb 7.25pm
RECENT RECORD: Bulldogs 4 North 6.
LAST TIME: R6 2016: North 9.7 (61) def Bulldogs 6.9 (45) at Docklands.
LAST WEEK: WB (78) lost to Geel (103); NM (85) def StK (62).
THE Bulldogs (12-6) will be determined to prove they are no spent force despite Tom Liberatore (ankle) and Jack Macrae (hamstring) joining fellow onballer Mitch Wallis (leg) in the medical room. They have lost their past two, but are a chance to regain defenders Dale Morris (hamstring), Matthew Boyd (achilles) and Matt Suckling (achilles). The Kangaroos (also 12-6) have returned to some form, however, having won their past two and have won six of their past eight against the Dogs, and exposed the Dogs' lack of scoring power in round six.
BLUES V SAINTS
At the MCG, 1.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Carlton 5 St Kilda 5
LAST TIME: R12 2016: St Kilda 17.8 (110) def Carlton 12.6 (78) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: Carl (55) lost to Haw (74); StK (65) lost to NM (85).
CARLTON (6-12) has lost its past seven, but been impressive in pushing West Coast (seven points), Sydney (six) and Hawthorn (19) the past three weeks. Another close loss looks on the cards against the Saints (9-9), who haven't been beaten at the MCG by the Blues since 1998, and won five of their past seven games going in, on the back of becoming No.1 for disposal efficiency (75.2). The Blues will be keen to send popular Andrew Walker off a winner, however. This will be his farewell game, retiring due to a chronic knee injury.
CATS V BOMBERS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 3.20pm
RECENT RECORD: Geelong 9 Essendon 1.
LAST TIME: R4 2016: Geelong 9.18 (72) def Essendon 6.6 (42) at the MCG.
LAST WEEK: Geelong (103) def WB (78); Ess (61) lost to Adel (143).
ESSENDON (1-17) hasn't beaten Geelong since 2011, and the Bombers won't be ending the drought with their skeleton crew. With their side No.1 for contested marking and marks inside the attacking-50m, Cats forwards Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel, Steven Motlop and Rhys Stanley (coming off a career-high five goals) will present all kinds of problems for the undermanned Bombers' defence. Geelong should have no problem making it 13 wins from 14 games against the red and black.
DOCKERS V EAGLES
At Domain Stadium, Perth 4.40pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Fremantle 6 WC 4.
LAST TIME: R3 2016: WC 12.20 (92) d Fremantle 8.11 (59) at Subiaco.
LAST WEEK: Frem (47) lost to Sydney (137); WC (72) lost to Coll (91).
THE return of opposing ruckmen Aaron Sandilands (rib) and Nic Naitanui (heels) after long layoffs with injury would add some spark to a western derby lacking in lustre, the Dockers (3-15) already looking to 2017, and so to maybe the finals-bound but underperforming Eagles (12-6). After losing seven straight derbies, the Eagles should now make it three in a row, with Michael Johnson (hamstring) and now Zac Dawson (suspended) missing from the Dockers defence paving the way for Josh Kennedy to extend his lead in the Coleman Medal race. With 60 goals, he leads Lance Franklin by one.