AFL Round 19 Preview

Hawthorn v Geelong - This should be one of the matches of the year. The Hawks are expected to win and a victory would affirm their position as hot flag favourites. However a Cats win will create footy-punting chaos. Imagine it: a Geelong win! Classic. The form-line is fascinating. The Cats have won the last eight meetings between the two teams, the Hawks not having saluted since Jeff Kennett mozzed his own on ABC TV’s Offsiders by saying that they had Geelong’s measure psychologically. Geelong won in Round 3 this season, to the surprise of those who thought the Cats were gorn. In recent weeks the Hawks have sparkled, moving the ball with skilful precision. The Cats have been up and down but have fought back with good wins over Essendon and Adelaide. Hawthorn will win it if they reap enough footy at the stoppages, and are allowed to run with the confidence of recent weeks. If that happens it could be ugly for Geelong. Alternatively if the Cats hassle the Hawks out of it with intensity and fierce and sustained pressure then the Hawks may break. They are big ifs for Geelong. The Hawks deserve to be favourites and I think they will win narrowly, but I’d certainly be looking at Geelong at the line, and I reckon they are over the odds straight out. Hawthorn to break the Kennett curse by 2 points

Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne - The Doggies  have little to play for but pride, and they may have found something in the video review of their terrible loss to St Kilda. If they can deal with their week of nightmares then maybe they can pressure North  early. But it doesn’t look good. Meanwhile the Roos have everything to play for. They hold their place in the eight as long as they keep winning and a big win will give them a little breathing space with percentage. North by 45 points

GWS v Port Adelaide - This is like GWS’s preliminary final. Their granny will come next week when they play the Suns on the Gold Coast. So I reckon they’ll be peaking then. That might help Port  who are just as likely to put in a shocker as they are to be competitive. In fact I reckon GWS are specials at the line here as well, and that they will win this. The Giants by 5 points

Fremantle v West Coast - Derbies are difficult beasts to predict and this is no exception. The Dockers  have had a soft draw the past month and they are knocking on the door of the final eight as a result. Keeping in touch will motivate them, as will the return of Nathan Fyfe (a genuine superstar in the making) and the form of Pav. Equally, the West Coast are trying to find a way to scrape back into the top four. Losing in Adelaide is no crime, but they were not overly impressive against Brisbane last week. The mid-field honours can go either way, but I reckon the tall timber of the Eagles will be a factor, assuming Dean Cox actually plays. This will be a spirited contest. My bet is Freo at the line, but I think the Eagles will win by a kick

Collingwood v St Kilda - The MCG will be pumping, with the faithful of these two clubs at their rabid best. The Saints have everything to play for and they will be looking to trouble Collingwood with long bombs to Roo Riewoldt and Big Justin Koschitzke. But the Saints have to get the footy first. I reckon the Pies are vulnerable, and again I think St Kilda at the line is a handy proposition. But the Collingwood ball magnets will give Lenny Hayes et al a torrid time. The Pies in a hard-fought contest by 11 points

Brisbane v Richmond - I would love to be Michael Voss this week. What an opportunity for his young side! All the brouhaha has been about the Tigers  and their disappointing (tragic!) losses. But I refer you to last week’s preview on this page which anticipated the last-minute loss. It was just so Richmond. The funny thing is that while all the attention has been on the Tigers the Lions have put together the same number of wins this season. So this match might be seen as something of a final, a litmus test. If I were Vossy I’d have my blokes absolutely primed and believing they can win it, because they can. Expectation remains with Richmond, which is not a good place for them to be in. The Lions by 7 points

Melbourne v Gold Coast - The Dees host the Suns  in a match that will attract so little interest bookies should frame a market on whether the crowd will be under/over 10,000 souls. I find it difficult to line these two sides up. So I’ll say that the Suns won’t handle the wintery August afternoon, and the Dees will be out to demonstrate they are flat out in every game. Melbourne by 22 points, forgettably

Carlton v Sydney - Sydney  should be too strong, but they have to travel and Carlton  have a spark. The Swans will miss Sam Reid, but they have a mid-field to match Carlton’s and alternative avenues to goal, including the unsung hero, Ryan O’Keefe, who runs out for the 250th time. Sydney to do enough, by 14 points

Adelaide v Essendon - The Bombers have little jet left in them, and the Crows  won’t be making things any easier. All at the venue where Essendon took forever to overcome Port recently. Adelaide will win the contested footy and beat Essendon at its own running game. The Crows by 28 points

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