March 30, 2007
The off-field controversies will be brushed aside starting tonight when the 2007 premiership season gets underway at the AFL Tips MCG.
ST KILDA VS MELBOURNE, MCG, Friday @ 7:40pm
The Saints will go into tonight's season opener with several of their stars lacking match fitness.
Lenny Hayes, Justin Koschitzke and Matt Maguire have all had limited pre-seasons, while Nick Riewoldt is on the sidelines with a hamstring injury and beleagured forward Aaron Hamill is on the long-term injury list.
Expect the Demons run through the midfield and potent forward line to be too much to bare for the Saints as the Demons continue their impressive form at the MCG, where they won 10 out of 11 games last season with an easy win. Demons by 38 points.
KANGAROOS VS COLLINGWOOD, MCG, Saturday @ 2:10pm
Both sides are minus several key players, with the Pies missing Buckley, Didak and Holland.
With forward Chris Tarrant now in the west, a lot of the burden to kick a winning score will rest on the shoulders of Anthony Rocca.
At the other end the Roos will be without key forward Nathan Thompson who sustained a serious knee injury just prior to the start of the home-and-away season.
This looks set to be a low-scoring affair, but with the Roos set to name as many as five debutants for Saturday's clash, you would expect the Magpies experience to get them over the line in a low-scoring tight affair. Pies by 16 points.
FREMANTLE VS PORT ADELAIDE, Subiaco, Saturday @ 2:10pm
For the first time in their history the Dockers will enter this season as one of the premiership favourites, and rightly so.
Fremantle will be keen to build on their preliminary final appearance from last season, and with new recruits Chris Tarrant and former Essendon defender Dean Solomon in their squad, the Dockers look to be a potent outfit in '07.
While the Dockers are on the up, Port is in a phase of rebuilding, having missed the finals for the past two seasons following their premiership in 2004.
The Power will be without key forward Warren Tredrea and its hard to see where their goals will come from, with Chad Cornes expected to line-up on new Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich.
Despite having as many as six first-choice players unavailable due to injury or suspension, the Dockers will have too much class and firepower for Port and will open their 2007 campaign in emphatic style. Dockers by 47 points.
BRISBANE VS HAWTHORN, Gabba, Saturday @ 7:10pm
No Brown no Brisbane. It's that simple.
With Daniel Bradshaw sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee, it will be left to Jonathon Brown to kick a winning score for the Lions.
Expect defender Trent Croad to be given the difficult assigment of minding Brown, with Danny Jacobs capable of playing as a loose man in defence and restricting the space in which Brown can lead into.
If the Hawks are able to keep Brown to three goals or less they will win.
While their record at the Gabba hasn't been impressive, having lost their past seven, this Hawthorn side is on the up with and will record somewhat of a mini upset. Hawks by nine points.
SYDNEY VS WEST COAST, Saturday, Telstra Stadium @ 7:10pm
The re-match of last year's grand final has been somewhat forgotten amidst all of the controversy centred upon Ben Cousins.
How the Eagles react to what has transpired over the pre-season remains to be seen.
But with doubts over the fitness Braun, Embley and Kerr, and with Cousins gone, the West Coast midfield, once their strength, suddenly looks decidely shaky.
The only saving grace for the Eagles is that they are playing on the wide open expanses of Telstra Stadium.
The Swans will be keen to atone for the disappointment of last year with a first-up win, and with fitness concerns over a number of key Eagles, Sydney should get up in a fiery encounter. Swans by 10 points.
ADELAIDE VS ESSENDON, Sunday,AAMI Stadium @ 12:40pm
The last time these two sides met back in round ten last year the Crows recorded a thumping 138-point win.
A lot has changed since then.
The Crows are minus their inspirational skipper Mark Ricciuto, ruckman Rhett Biglands and key forward Trent Hentschel who booted eight in that match.
The Bombers will have spearhead Matthew Lloyd back on the paddock after a 2006 which was ruined by injury, and young guns Alywn Davey and Leroy Jetta who look set to be exciting young prospects.
Essendon has lost their past five matches at AAMI Stadium against the Crows, and this looks to be their best opportunity to record a win in Adelaide.
The Crows are ravaged by injury to several key players, but as they have shown in the past, their lesser likes are capable of stepping up to fill the void.
Adelaide, with the home ground advantage should get over the line in a match that will be closer than most pundits expect. Crows by 26 points.
WESTERN BULLDOGS VS GEELONG, Sunday, Telstra Dome @ 2:10pm
It's a case of the most attractive team to watch in the competition versus the most frustrating.
The Dogs running brand of football is well suited to the Telstra Dome, but with key defenders Brian Harris and Chris Grant on the sidelines due suspension and injury respectively, the Bulldogs look vulnerable down back.
If the likes of Ottens, Mooney, Ablett and co. hold onto their marks, as you would expect under the roof, then the Cats will win.
Should the Cats forward line fail to fire, the Doggies will take full toll and run the ball out at will.
Contests between these two sides have been tight in the past, with both encounters last year decided by a solitary point.
Expect this weekend to be no difference, but the Bulldogs run and the addition of Luke Darcy and former Eagle Andrew McDougall up forward should prove to be the difference. Bulldogs by 15 points.
CARLTON VS RICHMOND, Sunday, MCG @ 5:10pm
Will the pre-season premiers carry their good form into round one?
Time will tell.
The Blues still rely heavily on star forward Brendon Fevola, and his knee has to be of some concern to coach Denis Pagan.
However, with the Tigers minus number one ruckman Troy Simmonds, you would expect Ackland and Cloke to dominate the ruck and supply the likes of Stevens, Gibbs, Murphy and co. with plenty of football and enough opportunities for the Blues forwards to kick a winning score.
Expect Carlton to extend their winning streak to five in a dour affair at the MCG. Blues by 19 points.
Posted by Tony Keen at March 30, 2007 12:18 PM