Western Derby and Undefeated Tigers vs. Crows Clash Highlight AFL Round 6 Action

Key games in round 6 of the AFL’s 2017 season are the Western Derby between the 3-2 Fremantle Dockers and the 3-2 West Coast Eagles, and a matchup between undefeated sides Adelaide and Richmond in Adelaide. The Crows are favored in that one, while the Tigers look to prove themselves. Also this week the winless Sydney Swans and North Melbourne Kangaroos have a reasonable shot at claiming their first victories, while GWS looks for revenge against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night footy.

GWS Giants vs. Western Bulldogs (Friday in Canberra)

The first ever Friday night footy game for the GWS Giants, they come into this matchup riding a four game winning streak that included a derby win last round, and eager to avenge their loss in the semifinals last year at the hands of the Bulldogs, who have won two straight in their own right and also sit at a solid 4-1 after five games. The Bulldogs snuck out a win against Brisbane last week and will be missing Matthew Boyd, while GWS is missing key defender Phil Davis, but brings Tim Taranto back into a formidable forward line that has been great, whether the goals are coming from Toby Greene, Jon Patton, or Jeremy Cameron.

The Bulldogs are a competitive side, but GWS looks to have a bit more skill through the ground, and as long as they can slow down the Bulldogs inside 50 they should find a way to snatch a big win in Canberra. Giants by 9

Hawthorn vs. St. Kilda (Saturday in Tasmania)

Hawthorn has beaten St. Kilda six straight times, but last year it was just a three point result, and the Hawks are down in the ladder, while the Saints are slightly up. Despite Hawthorn’s miserable 0-4 start, a win over finals contenders West Coast last week moved them to 1-4, and if St. Kilda loses this game, both teams will have the same record (2-5). Jaeger O’Meara is back in for the Hawks, while a struggling Cyril Rioli is out, St. Kilda will need to make sure they don’t push too hard against the Hawks and run out of gas late, something that has been happening to them in recent outings.

Last week goal kicking was at a higher standard for the Hawks, and if they keep that up, led by Jack Gunston and Jarryd Roughead they should be able to find a way to win this one. Hawks by 23

Carlton vs. Sydney Swans (Saturday at the MCG)

The Swans at 0-5 are actually behind the 1-4 Carlton Blues on the ladder, but surely they have to find their way past an inexperienced Carlton side that as expected has struggled to score goals this season. The Swans have won seven straight against Carlton and lead all of the statistical categories, both offensively and defensively this season. Brandon Jack comes in for his struggling brother Kieran for the Swans, who will need much better midfield and offensive play if they are going to salvage their season. The Blues bring in Alex Silvagni and unless they significantly up their level they look set to lose this one. Look for Sydney to exercise some demons. Swans by 42

Brisbane Lions vs. Port Adelaide (Saturday at the Gabba)

The Lions have not surprisingly dropped four straight and sit at 1-4, but they have put together some spirited efforts through five games and deserve the respect of their 3-2 opponents Port Adelaide. The Power won both games against a hapless Lions team last year, and while they will be missing Travis Boak, Hamish Hartlett  is back in and the likes of Robbie Gray, Jared Westhoff, and Ollie Wines should continue to be able to get the ball inside 50, something the Power have been best in the comp about through five games.

Rising star nominee Eric Hipwood leads the Lions hopes, and playing at home is a net benefit. Chris Fagan has positioned his side to get a confidence boosting win at some point this season, but for now I have to tip the Power, they are an underrated quality side. Power by 20

North Melbourne vs. Gold Coast Suns (Saturday at Etihad Stadium)

Yet another worst record/better team matchup, the Kangaroos are 0-5 but arguably have been more competitive and played at a higher level for most of the season than the Suns who sit at 2-3 but arguably seem like the side most likely to get destroyed any given week. The Suns have been plagued by inconsistency with their list performance, while the Kangaroos can’t finish games, and if AFL was a three quarter sport they would likely be 3-2 right now. Kangas coach Brad Scott is under the pump and has dropped Lindsey Thomas and Andrew Swallow while bringing key midfielder Shaun Higgins back in. The Suns drop David Swallow and will be looking for more leadership from the likes of Michael Barlow and Gary Ablett, while hoping that Tom Lynch and Brandon Matera return to goalkicking form.

The Kangaroos will need to be better in the forward 50, but also improve their sloppy defense. This is looking like a lost season for both teams through five games, but I’ll tip North at home. Kangaroos by 24

West Coast Eagles vs. Fremantle Dockers (Saturday at Domain Stadium)

West Coast has claimed three straight Western Derbies, and this is huge game for both teams. The Dockers sit at 3-2 and are on a roll, this game likely a test of whether they are serious finals contenders again. The Eagles are at 3-2 as well, but after another miserable performance at the MCG, will need to boost their spirits and get up for this one. Jamie Cripps, Jackson Nelson, and Will Schofield are out for the Eagles, while Sam Mitchell returns. Fremantle gets Harley Balic back but is missing Stephen Hill.

The Eagles have more list talent, but they need the likes of Josh Kennedy to return to form, and will need sharp ball movement to deal with the Dockers pressure. The Dockers have the best upset chance of any team this week, but West Coast should win this derby. Eagles by 7

Essendon vs. Melbourne (Sunday at Etihad Stadium)

A loser of three straight, Melbourne looks like the team most likely in for a prolonged slide after losing their second ruckman Jake Spencer, and also being without Jesse Hogan again after the death of his father. Jordan Lewis does return on the bright side, while Michael Hibberd played well last week and Jay Kennedy-Harris showed promise as a young forward. The Bombers will be without James Kelly and Aaron Francis after a big ANZAC day win not long ago, while Tom Bellchambers moves into the ruck. Their is a case to be made Melbourne is the better team, but momentum favors the Bombers who want to move to 4-2 and pull away from sides like Melbourne in this part of the season. The advantage for Essendon is in the backline with Andrew McGrath and up front with Orazio Fantasia and Joe Daniher, the ANZAC day medalist. Essendon by 29

Geelong Cats vs. Collingwood (Sunday at the MCG)

Despite winning the last two outings against the Cats, even the most passionate Collingwood supporter has to doubt their chances at stopping Geelong this time, given its a 5-0 team vs. a 1-4 team that has struggled for goals. The Magpies aren’t terrible, but the Cats are a sharp side that punish mistakes and poor play. I don’t expect Collingwood to have sorted out it’s forward 50 issues, and Dangerwood, plus Steve Motlop, Mitch Duncan, and Tom Hawkins is a decisive advantage. Geelong by 41

Adelaide Crows vs. Richmond Tigers (Sunday at the Adelaide Oval)

The matchup of the week, the Crows at the Oval look somewhat unstoppable and have won their last two matchups against the Tigers. The Tigers would love to shatter the Crows dominance though and pull off a win that will put them firmly in top 4 contention. Both teams are 5-0, and the Crows AFL best offense will matchup against a Richmond side that been able to lock teams down their defense, lead by Alex Rance and Bachar Houli. Josh Jenkins returns as a key forward for the Crows, while Riley Knight is out. The Tigers have to hope that Jack Riewoldt can have another massive game and that Toby Nankervis is a good matchup for Sam Jacobs in the ruck.

Adelaide is the best side in the competition right now, and I have a feeling Eddie Betts and Tex Walker will step up to end the Tigers streak at 5 wins, while moving the Crows to a sixth straight victory. Crows by 23

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