Round 11 looms as a weekend with a few enticing contests and important matchups for several sides as we approach the bye rounds.
These are the key stories to keep an eye on for Round 11.
Tied on Points + Tied on percentage = Blockbuster Friday night
Round 11 opens with what could be the closest game of the weekend. The Swans and Tigers will head into Friday night’s clash at the SCG locked on the same premiership points and percentage – it doesn’t get any tighter.
It will be the 199th time these two teams lock horns, with Richmond having the upper hand 109-88, and just one draw since the teams first met in 1908.
The clash will be Will Hayward’s 100th game for the Swans. The 23-year-old is having a career-best season, averaging 12.1 disposals and 1.5 goals per game.
Looking back at the history between the two teams, this matchup will be the first time that the Tigers have played at the SCG since 2016. On this occasion Sydney belted Richmond, Lance Franklin slotted seven goals and Josh Kennedy collected 37 possessions on the way to a 113 point victory.
On Thursday, Sydney announced that Matthew Roberts will make his AFL debut. Roberts played his junior level football in South Australia and was selected at Pick 34 in the 2021 AFL Draft.
Roberts has been touted as a hard-working midfielder who has a keen eye for impacting the scoreboard. He will certainly be one to watch.
The winner of the contest will move to an impressive 7-4, significantly strengthening their final chances. As for the loser, a record of 6-5 could put their position inside the top eight in jeopardy.
Demons Dominating… Again
It is no question that Melbourne is the best team in the competition. Through 10 rounds the Demons are still unbeaten, dominating the rest of the competition and people are starting to ask, can they do the impossible, the undefeated season?
The Demons will be looking to make it 11 from 11 when they face the out-of-form Dockers on Saturday afternoon at the MCG.
Many statistics provide evidence as to why Melbourne has been so dominant following their 2021 Premiership year.
An element to Melbourne’s game is that its front half effort and work rate are simply breathtaking. It ranks first for inside 50s and tackles inside 50.
Additionally, the likes of Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw are the reason why Melbourne ranks second for contested possessions this season.
A positive for Melbourne this week is that Jack Viney is set to return to the lineup following a stint in the grandstands with hamstring tightness. Viney was named to play last week but was a late withdrawal.
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Can Joel Jeffrey do it again?
The Gold Coast Suns were stunned by the emergence of young forward Joel Jeffrey last week, when he booted five majors against the Western Bulldogs, leading to a Rising Star nomination for Round 10.
Saturday provides another opportunity for Jeffrey to assert himself in the Gold Coast lineup, alongside Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult as the Suns meet Hawthorn in Darwin on Saturday night.
The Suns and Hawks are a fantastic matchup at this point of the season, given where both teams sit and how their respective futures are set. Both have four wins so far in 2022 and are only separated by percentage.
Conditions in Darwin are never easy. It tends to be a bit dewy, meaning the talls of Chol and Casboult may struggle a bit more. This means the likes of Izak Rankine and Nick Holman could be set for a very busy night.
Joel Jeffrey will enter the contest with a mountain of confidence and will be looking to impact the scoreboard in a similar as the Suns aim for their fifth win.
Football’s biggest rivalry, once again
There is no bigger rivalry in football than Carlton and Collingwood. The two sides have been arch-enemies since the foundation of the sport. They have faced off 260 times since 1897 and the history books can’t separate them – it’s 128 wins apiece with four draws.
There is expected to be an enormous crowd for the matchup, with the possibility for over 75,000 to pack into the MCG on Sunday afternoon.
Collingwood has had an up and down campaign so far and Round 10 was certainly another chapter of the 2022 rollercoaster. Collingwood knocked off the (at the time) third-placed Fremantle in Perth which is well known to be a challenging task. It was the Magpies’ fifth win of the year, pushing them up to 10th position on the ladder and right back into finals contention.
Carlton has been ‘the jumper’ up the ladder in 2022, sitting with an 8-2 record and in third position. The Blues have been extra impressive this year given their extensive injury list. Big names like Harry McKay, Zac Williams and Marc Pittonet are just a few that won’t be in the Blues side on Sunday afternoon.
On-field there are key matchups everywhere that look set to thrill. Charlie Curnow v Darcy Moore, Brody Mihocek v Jacob Weitering, Patrick Cripps v Taylor Adams, just to name a few. This makes for a mouth-watering contest this weekend.
Sunday looks likely to be one of the biggest and most anticipated games between the traditional rivals. Both are coming off good wins, and both have had some success this season. It could be a very physical matchup.
Charlie is BACK!
The long-awaited return of Port Adelaide’s main man up front Charlie Dixon is over. Dixon will play his first game of the year on Sunday evening when Port Adelaide hosts Essendon at the Adelaide Oval.
It is no surprise that Dixon is a crucial element to the Power lineup, leading the club’s goal kicking tally for the last two years and averaging two majors a game through this period.
His availability does lead to some selection headaches for Port Adelaide. It is unconventional to name four key forwards in the one lineup – Jeremy Finlayson, Mitch Georgiades, Todd Marshall, and now Dixon – but it is hard to leave any of them out given their respective seasons.
Then at ground level, the rovers Robbie Gray, Zak Butters, Connor Rozee, Sam Powell-Pepper, and Steven Motlop are all willing to get their hands dirty to create forward 50 pressure that commonly results in goals.
Of the nine players mentioned, it is extremely difficult to see how they all fit into one forward lineup, with seven or eight players that could be named. If all nine are named, it could lead to an imbalance of positional players.
Sunday provides a good opportunity for the Power to assert themselves back into finals contention and keep their aspirations of playing in September alive despite starting the season 0-5.
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