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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

AFL round 6 preview: Goodbye Victoria

The 10 Victorian clubs previously based there have moved into the hubs in Queensland or NSW as they say goodbye to their homes for at least six weeks.

It’s going to be a season of just getting on with it so we’ll see which clubs can handle the new landscape of the competition best.

To illustrate how strange this season has become, no team will play at home this weekend with both Queensland sides playing in NSW and both NSW sides to play in Queensland. Imagine hearing that a year ago!

Despite all the movement of clubs, there are some good games in round 6 and it kicks off with a beauty.

Geelong Cats (3rd) vs Brisbane Lions (2nd) Thursday 9 July 7.40pm @SCG

The Cats have mixed their form this year and are now away from their fortress in Geelong for an extended period.

Their first game on the round is a tough one as well, with the Lions the most consistent team in this bizarre season.

They have chosen to manage Jack Steven as he returns to playing football with young Sam Simpson brought in to replace him.

There’s no doubt the Cats best is good enough to match it with anyone, but they’ll need to play a full four quarters to win this one.

The Lions are the form team in the competition and are as exciting to watch as any team.

Their midfield is playing exceptionally well with Brownlow favourite Lachie Neale well supported by the likes of Hugh McCluggage, Jarryd Lyons and Jarrod Berry.

They are also improved by the addition of captain Dayne Zorko who returns from a calf injury.

The stars look to be aligning for a shot at a premiership for the Lions, but with the unpredictable nature of season 2020, it’s just one week at a time.

These teams played out a nailbiter last year and hopefully we get the same again tonight.

Collingwood Magpies (10th) vs Hawthorn Hawks (9th) Friday 10 July 7.50pm @Giants Stadium

The Magpies are under extreme pressure both on and off the field as their season is starting to unravel.

The off-field drama surrounding Steele Sidebottom and Jordan De Goey has left them without two of their star players for this crucial match.

After two consecutive losses and their president continually making headlines, it may not be a bad time for the Pies to get away from Victoria and really focus on winning games.

The Hawks were soundly beaten by the Giants and it has been hard to get a gauge on how good they really are.

They seem to play well in patches but can’t put together a four-quarter performance to be able to beat the best sides.

If any coach can make the most of this challenging situation in a hub, Alistair Clarkson would be the man.

These two big Victorian clubs will face off in unfamiliar territory at Giants Stadium in Sydney.

Fremantle Dockers (16th) vs St Kilda Saints (4th) Saturday 11 July 12.35pm @Metricon Stadium

The Dockers finally got their first win of the season last week and with this being their last match before heading home to Perth, they will be looking to finish their Gold Coast experience on a high.

In good news for the Dockers, it seems likely their skipper Nat Fyfe will make an early return from a hamstring injury which will only boost their confidence of causing an upset.

The Saints head to their Noosa hub on fire with two impressive wins in a row.

It seems likely the Saints will be playing finals football this year and they have become a joy to watch with their fast ball movement.

They should be too strong for the Dockers, but nothing would surprise this season.

West Coast Eagles (15th) vs Adelaide Crows (18th) Saturday 11 July 3.05pm @Gabba

The Eagles notched up a much-needed victory against an undermanned Swans side last week and should be too good for the last-placed Crows.

Nic Naitanui was dominant in the ruck while their midfield got some of their mojo back with Elliott Yeo and Dom Sheed the picks of the bunch.

They lose captain Luke Shuey to a hamstring injury but still have enough class to win this one.

The Crows had their best chance to win their first game last week but failed to fire in the final quarter.

Based on their performances this season, it’s hard to see them challenging the Eagles.

It’s been an incredibly tough season for the Crows and they must be looking forward to playing back at Adelaide Oval next week.

Melbourne Demons (17th) vs Gold Coast Suns (6th) Saturday 11 July 6.05pm @Giants Stadium

The Demons have a huge problem in attack with their highest score this season just a measly 54 points.

They have been able to win enough ball around the ground but their entries inside 50 are terrible and they are really lacking a target to kick to.

The Suns were dealt a huge blow with gun rookie Matt Rowell looking likely to miss the rest of the season following shoulder surgery.

Rowell had been a revelation before going down early in last round’s game, but his team still managed a solid performance without him.

Despite not winning that game, the Suns played well enough to suggest they are a big chance of knocking over the Demons.

Essendon Bombers (5th) vs North Melbourne Kangaroos (13th) Saturday 11 July 7.40pm @Metricon Stadium

The Bombers find themselves 5th on the ladder with a game in hand after an impressive win over the Pies last round.

Unfortunately, they lose their star forward Jake Stringer for up to three months with an ankle injury.

Stringer starred in their win last week and the Bombers will need to find a way to replace his scoring.

After a strong start to the season, the Kangaroos have lost their past three matches and find themselves in 13th spot on the ladder.

They were smashed on the outside last round against the Bulldogs and could be exposed again with the Bombers possessing plenty of speed.

Expect some physicality when these teams clash on the Gold Coast.

Port Adelaide Power (1st) vs GWS Giants (7th) Sunday 12 July 1.05pm @Metricon Stadium

This one promises to be a good clash with the Power looking to respond after being blown off the park last round by the Lions.

After a promising first four games, the Power were brought back to earth with a thud last round against a top side.

Fortunately, they come up against another premiership contender this week and have one more opportunity to show they are the real deal this season.

The Giants are back to playing some good footy the past two weeks and will head to the Gold Coast full of confidence.

They have unearthed another star in Harry Perryman who has the ability to play at either end of the ground and can even rack up the possessions in the midfield.

Their tall forwards found some form last week and if they can bring that same performance, they should be too strong for the Power.

Richmond Tigers (11th) vs Sydney Swans (14th) Sunday 12 July 3.35pm @Gabba

The Tigers head into the hub with several of their star players out with injury and a couple more deciding to stay in Victoria.

They will lose six players from their match last round, but it opens the door for some young players to get an opportunity.

The Tigers still have enough quality to win matches and are fortunate to come up against a struggling side with injury issues of their own.

The Swans big man stocks are near depleted and they were exposed by the Eagles last week.

They have taken the opportunity to blood a couple of last year’s draftees with Dylan Stephens and Chad Warner to make their debuts on Sunday.

Hopefully the added exuberance of youth can give the Swans some much-needed spark.

Carlton Blues (12th) vs Western Bulldogs (8th) Sunday 12 July 6.45pm @Metricon Stadium

The Blues looked to have turned a corner with back-to-back wins but were reminded they still have a way to go by the Saints last round.

The Blues’ first quarter woes continued, and they found themselves down 20 points at quarter time and could never get into the contest.

Patrick Cripps was tagged out of the match and if he gets more attention this week, the Blues’ other midfielders will need to step up.

The Dogs have been in great form the past three weeks after struggling earlier in the season.

Their pressure game has been outstanding and if they bring that again, it will make it mighty hard for the Blues to score.

Their star Marcus Bontempelli was quiet last round but it didn’t matter as they have a host of other players who can step up.

The other positive from last week was the form of Josh Bruce who booted six goals as the main man up front but he will have his work cut out for him against Jacob Weitering.

Josh Bruce was outstanding last week but he needs to back it up again against the Roos.

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