Bulldogs Traveling West, The China Game, and Fremantle vs. Richmond Highlight AFL Round 8

Round 8 for the AFL features key games including Western Bulldogs traveling to Perth to face West Coast, the first ever AFL game in China between Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast Suns, and the likes of Fremantle, and St. Kilda tussling for the 8th spot in the ladder.

West Coast Eagles vs. Western Bulldogs (Friday at Domain Stadium)

Last year the Bulldogs thumped the Eagles in the finals series and they have won three of the last four against the Eagles. That said, teams traveling west to face the Eagles never have it easy and West Coast has won two straight, while the Bulldogs also come off of a victory in round 7. These teams are one spot apart on the ladder and this is a big Friday night matchup, the winner has the inside track for the top 4. It’s tough to split these teams apart, but the Bulldogs will be missing captain Bob Murphy, forward Jake Stringer, and Josh Dunkley, while West Coast has a side that is closer to their true best 22. Elliot Yeo, Sam Mitchell, Luke Shuey, and Josh Kennedy lead the Eagles, while the Bulldogs will need to produce some goals to win. Look for the Eagles to win the final term and edge this one. Eagles by 11

Hawthorn vs. Brisbane Lions (Saturday in Tasmania)

The bottom of the ladder Lions sit at 1-6 and things have gone from acceptable to awful in just a few weeks for Chris Fagan’s side. The Hawks have also won the last 7 against the Lions, and appear hungry for their third win of the season. Ricky Henderson comes in for the Hawks, while Grant Birchall is out with injury, as is James Sicily. The Lions are banged up and drop an injured Mitch Robinson, plus young gun Hugh McCluggage this week. The veteran Hawks have gotten improved forward play in recent weeks and have shown heart to overcome a lot of their issues. The Lions don’t have enough firepower to win this one. Hawks by 21

St. Kilda vs. Carlton (Saturday at Etihad Stadium)

Winners of four of their last five, the Saints are on a tear and beat the overperforming Blues twice last season. Koby Stevens is out for the Saints, Maverick Weller comes in, and the likes of Nick Riewoldt, Jack Steven, and Josh Bruce will need to break down a Carlton defense that has risen up in their wins to get the Blues over the top.The Blues bring back Zac Fisher and Jack Silvagni, while Sam Docherty and Kade Simpson lead the backline. If the Blues get another masterful game from young Sam Petreveski-Seton, the result could change, but the Saints should have superior ball movement and marking to prevail. Saints by 26

GWS Giants vs. Collingwood (Saturday at Spotless Stadium)

The GWS Giants lost last week but so did Collingwood, and the Magpies looked much worse doing it. The Giants are looking to finally get a win over Collingwood, and they have the firepower to do it, as long as the rest of their forwards step up with the absence of Toby Greene still looming large. Lachie Whitfield returns, while Daniel Wells is in for the Magpies. Collingwood struggles to score simply put, and as long as the Giants keep up a solid backline they should produce enough goals to win in Sydney. Giants by 35

Essendon vs. Geelong Cats (Saturday at the MCG)

Two struggling veteran sides, Essendon having lost four straight, while Geelong has lost two straight and have given up too many inside 50’s in recent weeks. The Bombers bring back Jobe Watson, and Andrew McGrath, with Brent Stanton dropping, while Aaron Black, Darcy Lang and Lachie Henderson are among five drops for the Cats, who bring in another ruckman, Zac Smith, plus Tom Stewart and Sam Menegola this week. Despite the Cats structure issues they’re better than the Bombers from a list perspective, and they should be able to find enough goals to get over the top unless Joe Daniher has a remarkable game. Geelong by 17

Adelaide Crows vs. Melbourne (Saturday at Adelaide Oval)

Both teams lost last week, the Crows obliterated by North, and Melbourne in a surprise defeat at the hands of Hawthorn. That said, the Crows remain top of the ladder and have won their last two against the Dees. Wayne Milera and Troy Menzel come in for Jake Lever and Riley Knight this week for the Crows, while Jay Kennedy-Harris is a drop for Melbourne. The Demons are good at controlling the footy but don’t convert that into goals as well as they should. Presuming the Crows can avoid a sloppy start, they should pump the ball forward enough to win, rather handily to be exact. Crows by 40

Richmond vs. Fremantle (Sunday at the MCG)

An unexpectedly important matchup the 5-2 Tigers face off with the 4-3 Dockers, who have won four of their last five and look to continue their strong run of form by knocking off Richmond at the MCG. The Tigers are better than their last two losses, and get Toby Nankervis back, while Harley Balic is a drop for the Dockers. Richmond has more talent, but they will need to keep their belief and be able to finish against the likes of Bradley Hill, who can extend play for Fremantle. This should be a close game, but it’s a game Richmond should be winning. Tigers by 15

Gold Coast Suns vs. Port Adelaide (Sunday in Shanghai, China)

The Suns and Power will contest the first ever AFL game in China, the Power have dominated this matchup but the Suns come off a win and are looking to even records with the Power at 4-4 if they win this one. Travel and pollution should induce fatigue for both sides, that said, the Power look willing to put more on the line to win this one, and with the Suns missing Callum Ah Chee, David Swallow, and Matt Rosa this week, they are down more talent than the power. Look for Charlie Dixon, Chad Wingard and the rest of the Power to gain a memorable win. Power by 14

North Melbourne vs. Sydney Swans (Sunday at Etihad Stadium)

Both teams won last week but have losing records and face a must-win game early in the season. The Kangaroos at 2-5 are full of confidence and get a home game, although the Swans have won 10 of the last 12 in this series and are hungry for their second win. Nic Newman and Kurt Tippett return for Sydney, while North loses key goal scorer Jarrad Waite, bringing in Aaron Mullett, and returning Jy Simpkin and Taylor Garner this week among others. Although Waite is a big loss for the Roos, unless Buddy Franklin and the rest of the Swans forwards ball out, North should take this one. Kangaroos by 9

Main Photo: