Round 15- What a Round!

In a most unusual round of AFL action, seven of nine games will be played by separated by no more than two teams positions on the ladder, so we can expect to see a shuffle of ladder spots by Sunday.

The first game of the round will be played on Thursday night between the two teams that currently hold down the top two positions on the ladder: Brisbane (1st) and Melbourne (2nd).

It will be the 50th meeting between the two sides with Melbourne currently holding the ascendancy, 27 wins to 22.

The big question here is will Melbourne be able to recapture the form that had them as short-priced premiership favorites three weeks ago? I believe they can on their home ground, the MCG.

The Friday night game between the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn is one of the only two that doesn’t pit neighbor against near neighbour; but even here, the two sides are separated by only four positions on the ladder, with the Bulldogs currently 10th and Hawthorn 14th.

However, the Bulldogs are currently three wins ahead of Hawthorn and are still considered a good chance to make the finals in what has been a very even season. Therefore I believe the Bulldogs have enough incentive to continue their winning form.

The two teams have met 164 teams with Hawthorn winning 84 games and there being two draws.

Also on Friday night, the struggling West Coast (18th) play host to Essendon (16th). Whilst having a ‘who cares’ factor given neither side has any real hope of finals, both have shown improved form over the past week. I believe the Dons have been the most impressive, with a good win over the Saints last week, and should be able to overcome the rebuilding Eagles.

On Saturday at Docklands, Carlton (5th) will square off against Fremantle (3rd). The Dockers are favorites for this clash and the return of Nat Fyfe appears to have given them sufficient power to maintain their ascendancy over the Blues, having won 20 of their 37 matches in history.

Patrick Cripps celebrates.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Richmond are slight favorites to win the Saturday twilight match against Geelong, the 201st meeting between these two clubs. Although a Geelong home game, the match will be played at the MCG, and the Tigers are expected to continue their strong recent performances with Dustin Martin again back in the team.

John Longmire – currently the equal-second-longest-serving senior coach in the AFL – will be at the helm for Sydney’s Saturday night game against St Kilda at the SCG, and this game will take him to equal with Port Adelaide’s Mark Williams on the games coached list.

Longmire has an imposing record as a coach, missing the finals in only two years of the 11 he has been in charge at the Swans, and his record against St Kilda is even more impressive. He has won 80 per cent of the home-and-away games against them and their only meeting in the finals back in 2011.

Longmire will be keen to improve these figures further and consolidate the final eight position against the club currently sitting in the 8th spot, who they are scheduled to meet again in the last round of the home-and-away season.

Sunday’s games will feature two hopeful finalists, Collingwood and Port Adelaide, against the two youngest clubs in the AFL, GWS and Gold Coast. The two losers might need to put away their final aspirations for another 12 months.

Down in Tasmania, North Melbourne and Adelaide will be playing for little more than pride.

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