With the bye rounds over, regular service resumes this weekend.
Now we have a full roster of 9 matches, together with the ultimate Thursday evening common season match for 2019, which is able to pit Essendon up towards the GWS Giants, who might be taking part in on this timeslot for the second time.
A variety of water has handed underneath the bridge because the Giants thrashed the Bombers by 72 factors in Sydney in Spherical 1, after which John Worsfold’s facet copped loads of criticism from the media for his or her dismal efficiency.
Simply how far the Bombers have come since then might be put to the check after they face the third-placed Giants, who’ve once more needed to deal with a prolonged harm toll however are proper up there among the many contenders, at Marvel Stadium.
Amongst different matches, the Adelaide Crows might be out to place an finish to a 16-year hoodoo after they face the Geelong Cats at Kardinia Park, whereas the Sydney Swans might be out to bury the demons of final 12 months’s humiliating defeat to the Gold Coast Suns at residence on Saturday evening.
Right here is your information to Spherical 15.
Essendon vs GWS Giants
After beginning the season with two losses, together with the aforementioned 72-point hiding at Giants Stadium in Spherical 1, many puzzled whether or not the Bombers would lastly stay as much as their potential, having once more loaded their taking part in listing with one of the best expertise from the nation.
Since then, John Worsfold’s facet have gained six of their final eleven matches, however a couple of of their losses have been regarding – first, the controversial loss to the Sydney Swans on the SCG the place David Myers missed a set shot from outdoors 50 after the ultimate siren, and most not too long ago their 35-point loss to West Coast in Perth final week.
Solely the Eagles’ inaccuracy (they managed 14.22 (106)) saved the Bombers from a probably much more embarrassing defeat, and that is one thing Worsfold would’ve addressed his facet in the course of the evaluation of that match.
Subsequently, they’ll wish to be switched on from the get-go after they welcome the GWS Giants to Marvel Stadium for simply the third time.
Leon Cameron’s facet are recent off every week’s break, earlier than which they recorded a 23-point win over North Melbourne in Hobart eight days after happening to the Adelaide Crows by 21 factors on the Oval.
Nevertheless, their harm listing has claimed one other title in tagger Matt de Boer, who will miss two months attributable to a shoulder harm sustained within the win over the Kangaroos.
The Essendon facet they’ll face on Thursday evening might be a a lot improved one from the facet that they beat by 72 factors three months in the past, and they also’ll be on excessive alert for a facet that has vastly improved since.
It will likely be the Giants’ second Thursday evening match ever, after they’d misplaced to the Adelaide Crows by 36 factors in a qualifying ultimate on the Oval in September 2017.
However with the house floor benefit, the Bombers ought to take the candies on this one.
Prediction: Essendon by 15 factors.
Geelong Cats vs Adelaide Crows
The Adelaide Crows’ finals credentials will face one other check this Friday evening after they journey to a floor the place they haven’t gained for sixteen years.
Don Pyke’s males will enter the second half of the season with quite a lot of confidence, having knocked off fellow finals contenders the GWS Giants and Richmond at residence in consecutive weeks previous to their bye final week.
Nevertheless, they’ll face their largest check but, dealing with a Geelong Cats facet which sits on high of the ladder with eleven wins and two losses for the season.
The Cats suffered the second of these two defeats final Saturday evening when it misplaced to Port Adelaide by eleven factors on the Oval, simply their third towards the boys from Alberton since 2004.
It continued their dismal post-bye file whereby they haven’t gained a match following its mid-season bye since lowered rounds have been launched within the 2012 season.
Now the onus might be on Chris Scott’s facet to bounce again in entrance of their followers at Kardinia Park this Friday evening, and it’ll be depending on the trio of Dangerfield, Ablett and Selwood main from the entrance.
At residence, the Cats ought to prevail.
Prediction: Geelong Cats by 20 factors.
Hawthorn vs West Coast Eagles
The primary match on Saturday sees Hawthorn try and maintain their finals hopes alive after they host the reigning premiers, the West Coast Eagles, on the MCG.
After latest wins towards the GWS Giants and Port Adelaide, the Hawks have been lower than spectacular since then, dropping three consecutive matches by the identical margin towards the Brisbane Lions, Essendon and the Sydney Swans, all by 19 factors.
Even with former captain Jarryd Roughead again within the facet, they have been saved on the again foot towards the Swans, conceding six first quarter objectives and by no means actually getting something happening what was a really chilly Sydney evening.
They’ll be with out captain Ben Stratton for one more week as he serves the ultimate match of a two-week suspension incurred from his evening of insanity towards the Bombers, the place he repeatedly pinched Orazio Fantasia and likewise stomped on the foot of Shaun McKernan.
However, the Eagles rebounded from their heavy loss to the Swans earlier than their Spherical 13 bye to beat Essendon by 35 factors, within the course of cracking the ton for simply the third time this season.
If it wasn’t for his or her inaccuracy in entrance of aim (they managed 14.22 (106) from 36 scoring pictures), they may’ve gained by an even bigger margin and boosted their all-important per centage which is able to show essential of their chase for a top-four spot.
Their run to September is predicted to obtain an enormous enhance with Nic Naitanui sure to return to the senior facet, practically twelve months after rupturing his ACL towards Collingwood on the MCG.
Coincidentally, his return would even be on the G, the place the Eagles haven’t crushed the Hawks since 2006.
Whereas their latest historical past on the floor makes for spectacular studying, it have to be famous their previous three wins on the floor all got here towards the Pies inside the final twelve months, whereas additionally they had a win towards last-placed Carlton in Spherical 5 final 12 months.
Nevertheless, I feel the Eagles ought to take this one out.
Prediction: West Coast Eagles by 14 factors.
Sydney Swans vs Gold Coast Suns
If there’s one match particularly that the Sydney Swans have circled on their calendars, it’s this one.
Why, you surprise? As a result of within the corresponding recreation final 12 months, the Swans suffered certainly one of their most humiliating defeats in latest historical past when, from 29 factors up at quarter-time and seemingly cruising to victory, they suffered a deadly lapse thereafter to crash to a 24-point loss.
It was one of the crucial stunning leads to latest historical past and for the Suns, it noticed them tick off one other process on their “to do” listing – that’s, beating the Swans for the primary time of their existence (they solely must beat the Adelaide Crows to finish their Grand Slam of beating each workforce within the AFL).
However the extra the Swans take into consideration historical past going into Saturday evening’s rematch, the extra they’ll be fearing a repeat end result, which might solid an enormous shadow over the way forward for coach John Longmire, who’s closely being courted by North Melbourne to be their subsequent coach.
Thus far this season, the 48-year-old has accomplished his greatest navigating his facet via a torturous first half of the season, which netted a return of simply 5 wins.
4 of them have come prior to now month-and-a-half, together with a formidable win over reigning premiers West Coast in addition to beating bitter rivals Hawthorn by 19 factors at residence final Friday evening, wherein Nick Blakey earned himself a Rising Star nomination.
The Suns, however, have misplaced their final 9 matches since beginning the season Three-1, however might fly south with the assumption that they’ll as soon as once more knock off the Swans.
Their final match earlier than the bye noticed them throw away a golden probability to finish that dropping streak after they misplaced to St Kilda by 4 factors in Townsville regardless of main by 31 factors simply after half-time.
It was a case of historical past repeating for Stuart Dew’s facet, which additionally led the Saints by 31 factors at Metricon Stadium in Spherical 13 final 12 months earlier than additionally dropping by lower than a kick.
Whereas the Suns would love to provide a repeat of their beautiful win on the SCG final 12 months, I feel the Swans will enter this match with a a lot smarter mindset than what they did eleven months in the past.
Prediction: Sydney Swans by 30 factors.
Port Adelaide vs Western Bulldogs
For the second consecutive week, Port Adelaide could have the Metropolis of Church buildings all to itself after they host the Western Bulldogs on the Oval this Saturday evening.
After over a month on the street, Ken Hinkley’s facet returned residence to a crowd of 37,726 final Saturday evening, they usually rewarded their followers with an eleven-point win over the Geelong Cats, simply their third towards them since 2004.
However the win has come at a value with a number of gamers set to fall foul of the judiciary, with Dougal Howard and Karl Amon set to be suspended for incidents involving Harry Taylor and Gary Rohan, respectively.
In the meantime, the Western Bulldogs’ season of unrelenting disappointment continued final Sunday when it misplaced to Collingwood by 9 factors at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.
It was their eighth defeat of the season and continues their worrying regression since they took out the 2016 flag, with the truth set to loom that they could change into the primary facet in AFL historical past to win a flag in a single 12 months after which not play finals for 3 consecutive seasons thereafter.
Their file on the Oval additionally doesn’t make for good studying, as they’ve solely ever gained as soon as on the venue, although it was towards the Energy of their aforementioned premiership 12 months of 2016.
At residence, the Energy ought to present no mercy.
Prediction: Port Adelaide by 23 factors.
St Kilda vs Richmond
The primary match on Sunday afternoon sees St Kilda look to redeem themselves towards Richmond following a stunning loss to the Brisbane Lions which has coach Alan Richardson underneath the pump to retain his job.
The Saints had been touted as one of many season’s huge improvers, even when the style of a few of their defeats counsel in any other case, nevertheless it appears all their onerous work has come undone in latest weeks, with heavy losses to the Lions in addition to towards Port Adelaide in Shanghai.
What hasn’t helped has been the absence of Jarryn Geary, who is nearly sure to not return once more in 2019 owing to the damaged leg he suffered in China earlier this month.
However there’s no doubting the Saints could have reviewed their loss to the Lions completely, wherein they conceded 9 objectives within the third quarter to crash to their first loss towards them in Melbourne since 2000.
Bouncing again is not going to come simple towards a Richmond facet which, following their Spherical 14 bye, discover themselves within the all-too-familiar place of ninth on the ladder.
The Tigers have misplaced their final three matches since defeating Essendon in Dreamtime on the G, the newest of them seeing them fall foul of the Adelaide Crows and Eddie Betts’ magic on the Oval on June 13.
With Trent Cotchin’s absence attributable to harm, it meant Dustin Martin captained the facet for the primary time, and whereas he led by instance towards the Crows, the absence of their non secular chief proved to be the telling story.
Ahead Jack Riewoldt can also be not due again for a couple of extra weeks, so the Tigers’ fleet of small forwards might want to proceed to step up in his absence.
In excellent news for the Tigers, they’ll solely need to hop on a aircraft as soon as extra this season (subsequent week towards the Gold Coast Suns), after which they’ll play their ultimate seven matches on the MCG, which ought to set them up for one more finals run.
However very first thing’s first – they should face St Kilda and win to maintain their finals possibilities alive.
Prediction: Richmond by 24 factors.
Brisbane Lions vs Melbourne
On the again of a much-needed win over Fremantle final week, Melbourne will hit the street after they fly north to face the Brisbane Lions on the Gabba on Sunday afternoon.
It has no doubt been a disappointing season for the Dees, which previous to their win over the Dockers had seen them win simply thrice – towards the Sydney Swans, Hawthorn and the Gold Coast Suns.
Nevertheless, their win final week, which got here on the again of fine efforts from Max Gawn and Jack Viney, might be the firestarter they want if they’re to make an unlikely late run for the finals, which might be just like what Richmond did 5 years in the past.
They may face a tricky process dealing with a much-improved Brisbane Lions facet which has solely misplaced as soon as at residence this season, towards Collingwood by 62 factors in Spherical 5.
After every week of soul looking following their shock 15-point loss to last-placed Carlton in Spherical 12, the Lions returned from their bye with intent, thrashing St Kilda by 56 factors with Charlie Cameron kicking 5 objectives in a best-on-ground show.
Their seventh win for the season sees them edge one step nearer to ending a decade-long finals drought, the northerners having not performed in September since 2009 when it reached the semi-finals in Michael Voss’ first season as coach.
At residence towards the Dees, they’ll begin heat favourites to register their eighth win of 2019.
Prediction: Brisbane Lions by 32 factors.
Fremantle vs Carlton
The ultimate match of Spherical 15 will see Fremantle attempt to make amends for its loss to Melbourne when it hosts Carlton at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
Of their second match on the MCG for the season, the place they’d crushed Collingwood by 4 factors in spherical eleven, the Dockers led at each change, however not when it mattered, as they fell to a 14-point loss to the Dees which might show expensive in its chase of a finals berth.
What didn’t assist their trigger was a foot harm suffered by Jesse Hogan, who was taking part in towards his outdated facet for the primary time since leaving on the finish of final season.
And in one other merciless blow for Ross Lyon’s facet, Harley Bennell additionally suffered a calf harm within the reserves, which is prone to rule him out for the rest of the season.
They may face a Carlton facet which has began to elevate because the sacking of Brendon Bolton, coming from 37 factors right down to upset the Brisbane Lions by 15 factors earlier than falling three factors wanting the Western Bulldogs in a heartstopper at Marvel Stadium in Spherical 13.
Caretaker coach David Teague had pleaded together with his facet to play with way more freedom following Bolton’s departure, and that’s precisely what they did within the matches towards the Lions and Bulldogs, the previous led by a masterclass from co-captain Patrick Cripps.
In a lift for the membership, their different co-captain, Sam Docherty, has re-signed with the membership till the top of 2021, hopefully organising a brand new period of success for the success-starved facet.
Nevertheless, dealing with a Fremantle facet wanting to bounce again is not going to be simple, and the Dockers ought to take the factors in entrance of their followers.
Prediction: Fremantle by 26 factors.