1. How De Goey and Fogarty go in their respective returns
Jordan De Goey was a lock for Collingwood’s round 1 side had he not been involved in that infamous pre-season drink-driving incident. And Darcy Fogarty was a surprise omission from Adelaide’s team last week. Both return to their sides, as all eyes will be on how they are able to have an immediate impact on their side’s chances of winning. De Goey has been in superb form in the reserves and has no doubt proven himself as a mainstay in the Pies midfield. Fogarty has shown a lot of potential and grunt in his first two games, and will need that and a bit more to retain his spot in the side. Be sure to keep an eye on both as they look to lock-down their places in their respective sides.
2. GWS getting back to their best
The Giants suffered a bitterly disappointing loss to the Swans last week, and will be eager to make amends when they take on the Dockers at home this week. Their speed and skill weren’t seen at all on Saturday night, and in being one of the flag favourites, they will undoubtedly be looking to get back on the winner’s list this week as they take on a Dockers side who have also been in some recent good form. The Giants, however, should account for Freo fairly convincingly, as they look to get their premiership race back on track.
3. The battle of the jungle
Although the Tigers are expected to win here, don’t expect the Lions to go down without a fight, especially if we’re taking into consideration their first three matches of the season, particularly their near win against the Power. The Lions have been labeled as “unlucky” by many in the media, and rightfully so. They have been extremely competitive in all of their losses and almost pulled of the upset of the season last week against the Power where they went close to erasing a four-goal deficit. Nevertheless, they haven’t been able to win, something the Tigers got back to doing last week in a huge victory over the Hawks, announcing that they’re back in form. Richmond should win this, but not without a red-hot crack from a hungry Brisbane outfit.
4. The Dogs continuing on from last week’s performance
The Bulldogs were finally able to put together a good performance last week, and they got a win for their efforts. Despite almost allowing inaccurate kicking to rob them of their first win of the season, the Dogs were just dominant from start to end, a sight we haven’t seen since, dare I say, their premiership win in 2016 against their opponents this weekend. The Swans are fresh off a great win against the Giants, but it’s how the Dogs back up their own huge win that is what most will want to see. Is their bite ‘officially’ back? A win against the Swans or at least, a competitive effort against the Swans would suggest it is.
5. Carlton improving from last week’s shocker
The Blues were absolutely dismal last Friday night, there’s no talking around it. They lacked fire, aggression, and the skillset to play on the grand stage against a mediocre Pies outfit. Nevertheless, they have another game this week to improve, and this match against North proves to be the ideal platform. North have only the one win so far this season, and if it’s any side the Blues can knock off, it’s the Roos. Although it is in Tassie, what we will be wanting to see from these youngsters is a far more competitive contest, one which shows some grunt and fight. There was none of that last week, and that is all the Blues should be aiming for against North. A win would be nice, but is unlikely. A better output is the aim.
6. West Coast backing up last week’s win
The Eagles stunned the Cats in the first half but almost blew it in the third term, only before they held their nerve and kicked clear in the final quarter. This week, they host the Suns, and will be looking to keep up their recent good form. A win over the Cats was succeeded by a resounding win against the Bulldogs away from home. So it’s fair to say they are one of the in-form teams in the competition, and if they are able to continue that against a much-improved Suns outfit this weekend, then who’s to say they’re not a chance for the finals?
7. Essendon v Port Adelaide
This match is such a crucial one for both sides. The Bombers will be keen to improve from last week’s shocking loss to the Bulldogs, whilst Port will be looking to make amends after their close scare against the Lions. It will be interesting to see who come out hungrier of the two, as both have a very good reason for being disgusted with their outputs last week. The Dons do have the home ground advantage, but the Power has the backing of three straight wins. Hence, the Power have to go in as favourites, but a determined Essendon side playing at Etihad is no walk in the park.
8. Hawthorn v Melbourne
A potential finals preview, this match is arguably the match of the round. Both are in reasonably good form, with Hawthorn having the better season to date despite having a tight loss last week. The Dees, on the other hand, turned their season for the better with a drought-breaking win over the Roos and did so quite convincingly. They’ll look to bring in this momentum into their clash with the Hawks, but will it be enough? The Hawks are still in superb form and have very similar projections now that the Dees had in the pre-season. This will be a very tight one.
9. How the Cats respond to injury woes
Gary Ablett – out. Cam Guthrie – out. Nakia Cockatoo – out. All have been forced out of the side through injury. The question is, how on earth do they respond? For starters, the Cats have one of the deepest midfields in the competition, so it shouldn’t hurt so hard like it would to other teams. Secondly, they’re lucky in terms of who they face on the weekend, that being the Saints. The Saints have been way off the pace this season so far, and shouldn’t really change even against an under-strength Geelong outfit. It will still be interesting to see the manner in which they get their win over the Saints, and see the true effects of losing such a dominant trio.