AFL previews for round 12
CROWS V SAINTS
At the Adelaide Oval, 7.50pm (AEST)
Recent record: Adel 8 StK 2
Last time: R11 2016: Adel 19.19 (133) d StK 6.9 (45) in Adelaide
THE wheels had fallen off the St Kilda bandwagon before its bye, kicking a total of just 17 goals in successive defeats to Sydney and the Bulldogs. Adelaide is not a great place to do repairs. Not only have the Saints lost their past six games against the Crows, they've lost their past six in the City of Churches. In fact, their away defeats to the Crows have been by 79, 46 and 88 points. The Saints are struggling to score with Josh Bruce having booted only 12 goals in eight games before demotion and leading goalkicker Nick Riewoldt (knee) sidelined. The Crows should have no such trouble, and Eddie Betts will be the main man - he's booted 12 goals in his past three against the Saints.
HAWKS V SUNS
At the MCG, 1.45pm
Recent record: Haw 8 GC 1
Last time: R3 2017: GC 21.13 (139) d Haw 7.11 (53) at Carrara
IT ONLY seems like nine weeks ago when these two last met. It was ... back when the Suns registered their biggest ever win. Despite their stirring victory over West Coast last week, it could be a different story for the Suns this time. They're away, at the MCG, where they've lost their past four, and coming up against the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Hawks, who after another dismal showing will most likely be stung into action (again). But, with Tom Lynch and Peter Wright, the Gold Coast has an attack to stretch an undermanned Hawk defence ... and Gary Ablett, who is averaging 39 disposals in eight games as a Sun against Hawthorn. The Suns won't have defender Jarrod Harbrow, however, after his drink-driving incident.
LIONS V DOCKERS
At the Gabba, 4.35pm
Recent record: BL 1 Frem 9
Last time: R12 2016: Frem 23.9 (147) d BL 9.10 (64) in Brisbane
THE trip to the Gabba won't concern Fremantle, which has won its past four games at the venue, not having been beaten there in nine years. In fact, the Dockers have dominated the Lions wherever they've met in recent times, and will be favoured to win a 10th straight victory against them. Freo skipper Nat Fyfe will be looking to silence a few doubters after collecting "only" 49 touches and kicking "only" two goals in his past two games. But the Lions won't be an easy pushover with Tom Rockliff (quad) returning to join the threesome dubbed by sidelined teammate Mitch Robinson as "Zocliffeams" - Rockliff and Dayne Beams are both averaging 30 disposals and Dayne Zorko 26.
BOMBERS V POWER
At Etihad Stadium, 7.25pm
Recent record: Ess 5 PA 5
Last time: R3 2016: PA 17.10 (112) d Ess 7.9 (51) in Adelaide
IS THIS one for the Ryder Cup? Former Essendon big man Paddy Ryder has struck career-best form in the ruck for the Power, an amazing feat considering his year off following his doping ban. His battle with former teammate Tom Bellchambers will be pivotal, with the one-time forgotten Tasmanian also showing good touch for the Bombers last week with 15 disposals and two goals matched up on GWS's Shane Mumford. After its demolition job on Hawthorn, the Power should be too strong, however, with big Charlie Dixon (four goals last week) also on fire in attack, and set to be rejoined by Chad Wingard (calf). The Bombers have had their moments this season but just don't win enough midfield battles and in turn enough forward-50m entries. They are third last in that area.
BLUES V GIANTS
At Etihad Stadium, 3.20pm
Recent record: Carl 2 GWS 4
Last time: R14 2016: GWS 18.19 (127) d Carl 9.11 (65) in Sydney
GWS has managed to beat Collingwood, Richmond, West Coast and Essendon with a depleted side, so overcoming second-last Carlton should be no worries for the first-time ladder-leader and premiership favourite. While the Blues have been pinching their offcuts, the Giants have stitched them up four times in a row, by 65, 51, 57 and 82 points. One of those ex-Giants, defender Caleb Marchbank, will be a good match-up for his former teammate Jeremy Cameron. But the midfield is where it will be won and, just like their positions on the ladder, the Giants are first for clearances, the Blues 17th.
DEMONS V MAGPIES
At the MCG, 3.20pm
Recent record: Melb 3 Coll 6 Drawn 1
Last time: R12 2016: Melb 16.8 (104) d Coll 8.10 (58) at the MCG
MELBOURNE has had the wood on the 'Woods of late, winning their past three encounters and finally claiming a Queen's Birthday clash last season. Though they are unlikely to rush back spearhead Jesse Hogan, the Demons will fancy their chances again. After their dreadful run early, the Magpies have been impressive in three straight wins, but Jamie Elliott (ankle), Daniel Wells (calf) and Tyson Goldsack (shoulder) will leave huge holes. The Dees will still need to put the brakes on Adam Treloar and Scott Pendlebury though. That pair has racked up 65, 61 and 70 disposals combined in the past three weeks. In contrast, Melbourne veteran Bernie Vince will want to rediscover the form that netted him 42 touches last Queen's Birthday. He's had 43 in the past three rounds.
Byes: Geelong, North Melbourne, Richmond, West Coast