Six teams have the week off in Round 12, but there are still 12 sides in action as the season begins to head into the business end.
These are the five main points to look out for in Round 12.
If Bulldogs want to play in September, this is a MUST win
Friday night looms as a big test as to whether the Western Bulldogs can make a serious run in September. The Bulldogs face the Cats at Marvel Stadium with both teams vying for a place in the top eight and top four respectively. The Dogs are more than capable of playing finals and they have the list to do so, but they just haven’t played to the level they did last year to make the Grand Final.
A win for the Western Bulldogs would secure a spot in the top eight by the end of the round, with the potential of ending the week as high as sixth. However, a win for the Cats would elevate them into the top four and the Bulldogs likely outside the top eight.
A revelation for the Bulldogs this year has been Tim English as the primary ruckman. The youngster is averaging 23 hit-outs, 22.5 disposals and almost a goal per game.
The Cats have brought back Rhys Stanley to matchup against English who when partnered with Blicavs, can certainly provide more of a challenge to the potential ruck.
English missed a large portion of the 2022 season and only returned from a six-game stint on the sidelines with injury last week. But that hasn’t hindered the 24-year-old who continued his stellar form in a dominant performance against the Eagles last week.
Helping the Bulldogs is the return of young superstar midfielder Bailey Smith into the lineup after missing last week’s 101-point belting of the West Coast Eagles due to illness.
Debutant number three for Adelaide
Adelaide is set to welcome its third fresh face this season when it hosts West Coast on Saturday afternoon with Patrick Parnell to debut. Parnell was selected by the Crows with pick four in last year’s mid-season draft.
The 20-year-old is averaging almost 18 touches and 3.3 rebound 50s per game in the SANFL so far this season to earn his spot in the senior side.
Parnell is a smaller defender who loves to run off half-back and delivers efficiently. Since Rory Laird has moved into the midfield, it gives Parnell a great opportunity to prove his worth at AFL level.
The Crows have a major chance to get their season heading back in the right direction, looking to snap a five-game losing streak against the Eagles. Adam Simpson’s men currently sit with a single victory through 11 rounds and a historically low percentage of 49.7.
On top of the addition of Parnell, Adelaide is set to welcome back Taylor Walker after missing due to health and safety protocols.
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How does Sydney manage without Buddy?
Melbourne fans can breathe a sigh of relief after Buddy Franklin’s one-game suspension was upheld, which is a major loss for Sydney, especially against a team like the ladder leaders.
Coincidently, Melbourne has lost the player who was likely to match up against Franklin, in Steven May. May will miss Saturday night’s clash after sustaining a concussion last week against Fremantle.
Logan McDonald has been impressive so far in 2022 but will need to go to the next level as becomes the number one key position option in attack for the Swans. McDonald will partner with Sam Reid and likely matchup against Jake Lever and Harrison Petty.
McDonald’s statistics don’t reflect his impact on the Swans’ forward line, he averages just under a goal per game and four marks, but he is constantly involved with the likes of Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley at ground level.
Sam Reid on the other hand has also been impactful in the limited games he’s played this season, kicking four goals from four games, as well as averaging 10.8 disposals and 6.8 hit outs as the ruck option in the forward line.
Sydney will enter the clash against Melbourne as underdogs and if it can’t cause an upset, it could end the round just percentage inside the top eight with a 7-5 record. However, an upset win would shoot Sydney back into top-four contention and hand Melbourne its second consecutive loss.
Can the Pies continue their September push?
Following back-to-back upset victories over Fremantle in Perth and then a thrilling four-point win over Carlton last Sunday, Collingwood can keep its momentum rolling when it faces Hawthorn on Sunday.
Given the Pies are just out of the top by percentage, a win (and if other results go their way) could see them inside the top eight at the end of the round.
On the other hand, Hawthorn hasn’t built on its early-season success in the way it would have hoped. After starting the season at 2-0, the Hawks have since won two out of nine games and now sit 13th.
Collingwood has raised its game to another level in the tackling department which will for sure apply just that little bit of extra pressure to a young Hawthorn lineup. Collingwood ranks second in the competition for tackles with 663, whereas Hawthorn ranks 14th with 593.
The Magpies also have the upper edge in the midfield and when it comes to clearances. While Collingwood only ranks 14th for clearances, Hawthorn rank last but only averages around three fewer clearances per game than Collingwood.
The Hawks will want to ensure they perform at their best to honour senior members in their milestone games. Both Liam Shiels and Luke Breust celebrate game 250 on Sunday. The pair will move into joint 16th place on Hawthorn’s all-time playing list alongside Shaun Burgoyne.
They knocked off the top team, how about the second?
After being the first team since Round 19, 2021 to knock off Melbourne, Fremantle are on a supreme level of confidence ahead of its contest with Brisbane in Perth on Sunday evening.
The Dockers had a disappointing week prior after a 36-point loss to the Magpies, some media pressure soon followed then they came out against the top team in the league at their home ground and knocked them off.
Fremantle currently sits in third position, one game and percentage behind Brisbane in second. With a big enough win, the Dockers can elevate themselves into the top two ahead of the Lions.
Unfortunately for the Dockers, they have to make a trio of changes all due to respective injuries with Heath Chapman, Matt Taberner and Michael Walters missing the clash. While Brisbane will welcome back key winger Hugh McCluggage.
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