Time on – round 13

WINNERS & LOSERS

Western Bulldogs 14.16 (100) def. Adelaide 10.10 (70)

Hawthorn 19.15 (129) def. Gold Coast Suns 8.10 (58)

Essendon 12.18 (90) def. by North Melbourne 17.9 (111)

Brisbane Lions 14.10 (94) def. by Richmond 18.17 (125)

Geelong 15.10 (100) def. St Kilda 11.6 (72)

Melbourne 22.17 (149) def. Fremantle 8.12 (60)

Carlton 15.10 (100) def. Sydney Swans 10.6 (66)

West Coast Eagles 15.20 (110) def. Port Adelaide 13.10 (88)

3 LIKES

1. Richmond’s improvement

The Tigers are in the best shape I’ve seen them for a long time. The recruitment of ex-Blue Shaun Grigg and ex-Bomber Bachar Houli compliment Brett Deledio, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin in the midfield. Ruckman turned key forward Tyrone Vickery has improved out of sight as well. All were on show against the Lions on Saturday night. Full credit to Damien Hardwick and his coaching staff.

2. Carlton now premiership contenders

The Blues were fantastic in their demolition job of the Sydney Swans on Sunday, the second occasion they’ve beaten the Swans this season. Ruckman Matthew Kreuzer was outstanding in just his second game back from a knee reconstruction, Chris Yarran’s rebound from the back half must be hailed as a masterstroke move from Brett Ratten and Andrew Walker’s season as a key forward has been tremendous. Walker, along with Marc Murphy, Michael Jamison and the skipper Judd are all in contention for All-Australian. Hampson will miss the next 6-8 weeks with a knee injury but Robbie Warnock should replace him and Jarrad Waite isn’t far away from a return either. Defender Jeremy Laidler is another who Ratten is keen to bring back into the mix, along with another running defender in Paul Bower. The Blues boast a wealth of depth, a great strength at this stage of the season. The improvement scope has been huge and they’re well and truly on their way to a possible Grand Final appearance, having pushed Geelong to the wire and challenged the Pies.

3. Another rookie success story

The Michael Barlow and James Podsiadly rookie success stories have been well documented but North Melbourne looks like it’s found another in former Box Hill Hawk Cameron Pedersen. The versatile key position player has played alot of footy at VFL level with Box Hill as a ruckman and key forward, but shone as a key defender last year, earning a spot in the VFL team of the year. Box Hill’s AFL affiliate Hawthorn took alot of interest in Pedersen but the Roos swooped on him in this year’s rookie draft. Consistent VFL form for the Roos has seen him rewarded with senior game time at AFL level and showed plenty against Essendon on Saturday that he can stand up as a foil for Drew Petrie up forward. Other successes this year have also included 26 year old Carlton defender Nick Duigan, originally from Norwood in South Australia. Expect more mature age players from state level to be selected at this year’s drafts.

3 DISLIKES

1. Buddy’s elbow hit

Why does he do it? Buddy Franklin has been rubbed out for bumps against Ben Cousins, Martin Mattner and Jason Akermanis over the past couple seasons and now he’s copped a one-match ban for his elbow to the face of the Gold Coast’s Maverick Weller. In each of the bumps to the players I’ve mentioned, he could’ve tackled and avoided the risk of suspension but didn’t and copped it. Players just have to tackle, going for the bump is too high of a risk, and the penalty is harsh. Buddy will now miss his club’s clash with Essendon on Friday night, one the Bombers now have a bigger chance of winning given the Hawks will be without their two key forwards in Franklin and Roughead.

2. Bombers fail again

James Hird’s boys have now lost four in a row, and face Hawthorn on Friday night. If they lose to the Hawks, it could be safe to say the season is over. Following the Hawks, the Bombers will confront the Cats, the Tigers – lose all three and the consecutive losing streak blows out to seven. Their attitude and endeavour on Saturday against the Roos was better than previous weeks but their motivation to start games well has been disappointing. Paul Roos paid close attention to Paddy Ryder and after the game called him lazy for his lack of intensity and work rate around the ground. Roosy was right on the money. Drop Ryder, bring Hille back and get pace back in the team. Brent Prismall deserves a crack, so too Alwyn Davey and Andrew Welsh – all who’ve gone missing this year. Scott Gumbleton is another who they’ll want to bring in quickly to add a marking target inside fifty. The Bombers have work to do and it all starts on Friday night against the Hawks.

3. Fremantle

Another game at the MCG, another loss. The Dockers have lost their past 10 games at the MCG, their last win at the venue was against their opponent on Sunday, Melbourne, who they beat back in 2007. They must come with a winning edge to games in Melbourne if they’re going to at all go deep into September. Matthew Pavlich must return to the forward line, as great as he is in the midfield, they need a reliable, match winning target up front. Pavlich certainly fits that description. Their injury list is devastating but every club gets injuries so they must learn to adapt and come to perform no matter the circumstance. They recruited Jack Anthony from Collingwood as a key forward option and it staggers me that he’s hardly getting a game. Intensity at the football is a must for these inconsistent Dockers and they need a higher work rate. Mark Harvey has done a terrific job since taking over from Chris Connolly but there is obvious work to be done.

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