Tom Lynch returns for the Tigers for their big game against Carlton on Thursday night. Image: 'Richmond FC'

With the final week of the bye rounds upon us, the race for the eight is heating up and several teams have a point to prove.

With the final week of the bye rounds upon us, the race for the eight is heating up and several teams have a point to prove.

These are the things to look out for in Round 14

A team without a scratch Vs Battered and Bruised

Thursday night provides a great opportunity for Richmond to get their revenge from Round 1 against an injury-ravaged Carlton at the MCG.

Ahead of this contest, the Tigers only have one player on the injury list, with that being Dustin Martin who will miss the clash through illness. Spearhead Tom Lynch will make his important return to the side this week following a hamstring injury in Round 10, leaving the Tigers virtually at full strength.

As for the Blues, they have 10 players on their injury list which includes names like Adam Cerra, Jacob Weitering, and Zac Williams. six of these 10 players played in Round 1 when the sides last met when the Blues prevailed by 25 points.

In a positive light for the Blues, they celebrate two player milestones. Carlton skipper, Patrick Cripps will play game 150 and mid-season draftee Sam Durdin will make his Carlton debut after being on the list for just 15 days. Durdin was selected with the 13th pick in this years mid-season draft after playing for Glenelg in the SANFL in the first half of the year.

A win for Carlton will secure their place in the Top 4 and draw them level on 40 points with Brisbane, Melbourne, and Fremantle at the top of the ladder. Meanwhile, if the Tigers win, they lock in their place in the Top 8 with the potential to jump to 6th.

Saints building momentum for finals

St Kilda was smashed with injuries in the tough loss to Brisbane last week. Meaning ahead of Friday’s clash against Essendon, it opens the door for some welcome returns to the lineup.

The Saints could welcome back Jack Billings and Hunter Clark who both offer class and hunger for the side. Billings and Clark both played in the VFL last week combining for 56 disposals

What primarily separates these two teams is the ability to score.

With Peter Wright in a form slump, Essendon doesn’t have another key position target they can look to. The Bombers rank 16th in the competition for points scored per game.

St Kilda’s elite-level defending will only add to the struggles Essendon has going forward. Dougal Howard, Cal Wilkie, and Jack Sinclair are just a few names to look to, and the Bombers won’t have it easy on Friday night. St Kilda sits 3rd in the league for least scores against per game.

Then in St Kilda’s front half, the likes of Max King, Tim Membrey, and Jack Higgins are always causing havoc for opposition defenders, and this week looms as no exception. Essendon lacks someone of King’s size meaning either Zach Reid or Jordan Ridley will matchup against King causing quite the mismatch and potential domination for the Saints.

Max King could be set for a big game. Image (St Kilda FC)

If the Saints win as predicted and other results fall their way, they will regain 4th position on the ladder.

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Beat the Demons, who’s next?

Sydney is on a September mission and has full faith in a deep run into the finals after beating Melbourne before their week off last week.

They face Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon and will be looking to move to within one win from the top of the ladder with a victory.

The Swans will welcome back Lance Franklin from a one-week suspension and will likely matchup against former teammate Aliir Aliir.

Franklin joins what has been a brutal forward 50 side with Tom Papley, Will Hayward, and Errol Gulden at ground level who all have a desire for the footy and are not afraid to get on the scoresheet. This lineup could well and truly cause trouble and difficulty for the Power defenders.

As for Port Adelaide, Mitch Georgiades should force his way back into the 22 after a four-goal performance in the SANFL. This would mean that Port Adelaide’s forward line would include our talls once again alongside Charlie Dixon, Todd Marshall, and Jeremy Finlayson

Port could reintroduce Mitch Georgiades. Image (Port Adelaide FC)

This contest proves important for both teams end of season aspirations and a loss could be detrimental. Its a must-win

Eagles’ worst ground, at home?

Despite the Eagles playing 6 games at the Optus Stadium so far in 2022, it is almost their ‘bogey’ venue. The Eagles are 0-6 in Perth with an average losing margin of 71.5 points.

They line up against the Cats who look set to make a Top four push in the back half of the year, and this match certainly looks to assert their double chance prospects.

West Coast has had a rough 2022. Image (West Coast Eagles)

Several stats point to a Geelong domination on Saturday afternoon. The numbers aren’t pretty for West Coast, they rank last in Contested Possessions, Inside ’50s, Marks Inside 50 (Cats 1st), and Clearances.

West Coast will most likely struggle regarding Geelong’s powerhouse forward duo of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron. The pairing has kicked 71 goals so far and sits 2nd (Cameron) and 4th (Hawkins) in the Coleman Medal.

Matching this duo will likely be matched up against Alex Witherden and importantly Jeremy McGovern who is set to be included after missing games with back soreness.

A win for Geelong and if Richmond defeats Carlton would result in the cats moving up to fourth position with nine wins.

A built-up rivalry set for another massive clash

Ever since the 2016 Preliminary Final, the Giants and Bulldogs have had a rivalry unlike any other in the competition.

Saturday night’s contest at Giants Stadium looms as a season-defining contest for the Western Bulldogs. They sit two games outside the Top 8 but with a handy percentage.

Giants and Bulldogs matchup once again. Image (GWS Giants)

GWS has registered just four wins so far in 2022, two of which have been in the last three weeks. As for the Bulldogs, they have a 6-6 record with three wins from their last month of football.

The Bulldogs’ midfield is something they pride themselves on with superstars Jackson Macrae, skipper Marcus Bontempelli, and Josh Dunkley. The Bulldogs rank second in the competition for disposals per game and first for disposal efficiency.

Despite all the numbers indicating positivity for the Dogs, the Giants will certainly be up for the challenge. Josh Kelly, Tom Green, and Stephen Coniligio are just a few names that will look to play their way and continue on the Giants’ growing form.

Keep an eye out though for Jack Macrae who always looks forward to this fixture. The star Dog averages 34 disposals when facing GWS and will be hunting more of the football on Saturday night.

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