Round 7 sees the first football played in Perth since round 1 as the Cats and Magpies play there on Thursday night before a Derby on Sunday.
The more relaxed restrictions in Perth means that up to 30,000 people will be allowed to attend the games which will be fantastic, especially for the Derby that means so much to the city.
Other key games from the weekend include a Friday night showdown between the Bombers and Bulldogs and a Saturday afternoon clash between the Giants and Lions.
Geelong Cats (2nd) vs Collingwood Magpies (5th) Thursday 16 July 8.10pm @Optus Stadium
The Cats and Pies face-off in their first match in the Perth bubble and with a crowd of up to 30,000 expected, it promises to be a beauty.
The Cats were ultra-impressive in their 27-point victory over the Brisbane Lions and their third quarter was probably the best footy any team has played this season.
Their veterans in Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and the great Gary Ablett continue to play at a high level and will need to be at their best against a quality Collingwood outfit.
The Pies were back to their best last week as they dominated the Hawks in a 32-point win where they never looked threatened.
Adam Treloar was sensational with 35 disposals and 6 clearances in the midfield while Darcy Moore was like a brick wall down back and repelled many of the Hawks attacks.
They also welcome back Jordan De Goey after he missed last weekend’s clash due to personal reasons so will be a big inclusion to the Magpies forward line.
It should be a fantastic battle and it will be great to see a decent size crowd fill half of Optus Stadium.
Essendon Bombers (4th) vs Western Bulldogs (12th) Friday 17 July 7.50pm @Metricon Stadium
Another good match for Friday night footy with the Bombers in great winning form at the moment.
They have won 4 of their past 5 matches and sit 4th on the ladder with a game in hand and look to be playing a defensive brand of football that can stand up in finals.
The bad news for the Bombers is they lose their best player in Dylan Shiel for two weeks and will need some others to step up in his absence.
The Bulldogs were smashed by a rampant Blues side last round so coach Luke Beveridge has responded by dropping four players.
They had more inside 50s than the Blues, but their forward line looked impotent as they struggled to kick a winning score.
Given how good the Bombers defence has been this season, the Bulldogs will need to be precise when going inside 50 or the Bombers will pick them off all game.
GWS Giants (10th) vs Brisbane Lions (3rd) Saturday 18 July 1.45pm @Giants Stadium
The Giants and Lions are both coming off losses last week with the Giants starting to come under a bit of pressure.
There was a story earlier in the week from Tom Morris that captain Stephen Coniglio could be dropped for this match but it later turned out to be untrue.
Coniglio has been slightly down on his best form but certainly nothing to warrant being dropped, but as a proud captain and player, expect him to come out breathing fire.
The Giants still have an issue getting the ball inside 50 and will need to rectify that against a good Lions outfit.
The Lions looked like the team to beat in 2020 before last week’s loss to the Cats and now there needs to be questions asked about their form away from home.
They have won all four matches at home and lost both away games so far this year and get another chance to prove themselves against a quality side away from home.
Sydney Swans (17th) vs Gold Coast Suns (9th) Saturday 18 July 4.35pm @SCG
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Swans, they lose Josh Kennedy for 6 weeks to a knee injury and Isaac Heeney for the rest of the season to an ankle injury.
The Swans have struggled to score points this season which was illustrated by their 26-point performance against the Tigers last round.
The shining light for the Swans has been small forward Tom Papley who leads the Coleman medal on 13 goals, which is a miracle considering Sydney’s inability to get the ball forward.
The Swans have been boosted by the return of three big bodies in Aliir Aliir, Callum Sinclair and Tom McCartin while young Elijah Taylor will make his debut for the club so expect him to show some skills up forward.
The Suns continue to show improvement this season and despite a loss last round, there were some positives to take away.
The main plus was the debut of Isaac Rankine who looks to be a future star of the competition so he’s certainly one to keep a close eye on this weekend.
The Suns will be confident of getting the job done against a struggling Sydney and if they continue their form, they should be winning.
Richmond Tigers (6th) vs North Melbourne Kangaroos (16th) Saturday 18 July 7.40pm @Metricon Stadium
The Tigers were involved in that scrappy game against the Swans last round and will need an improved performance to win this match.
They were poor with their inside 50 entries last week with their big forwards in Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch not having much of an impact in wet conditions.
They are still missing several of their key players but have enough talent to beat the Kangaroos.
The Kangaroos have now lost 4 straight matches after a good start to the season but remain a competitive side.
They lost narrowly to the Bombers last week but certainly had their opportunities to win with plenty of inside 50s.
Ben Brown has been struggling for form in recent weeks, so they need to find a way to get him more involved to be able to kick a winning score against the Tigers.
Carlton Blues (8th) vs Port Adelaide Power (1st) Sunday 19 July 1.05pm @Gabba
This one promises to be a beauty with both sides coming off excellent wins in round 6.
The Blues were electric in their 52-point drubbing over the Bulldogs and, as a result, find themselves in the top eight.
The Blues have been out of the finals since 2013, but this season feels like the time for them to break through.
They beat a good team last week, but they now get a chance to show what they’ve got against the top of the ladder Power.
The Power are coming off an important win against the Giants which proved to many they are genuine contenders this season.
However, the Blues are a big challenge as well considering their form, so the Power will need to be at their best to win.
Considering they have only played one game at Adelaide Oval this season, the Power have done a remarkable job to sit a game clear on top of the ladder and would love to head home on a high.
Hawthorn Hawks (13th) vs Melbourne Demons (15th) Sunday 19 July 3.35pm @Giants Stadium
The Hawks have been beaten emphatically the last two weeks by good teams, but the Demons present an opportunity to turn their form around.
The Hawks look a fair way off the better teams in the competition with their inability to score becoming an issue.
They have only managed 10 goals over the past two weeks with their forwards having little impact on the game.
The Demons forward line worked much better last weekend with Sam Weideman and Bailey Fritsch providing good targets inside 50.
They should go into this match confident of beating the Hawks and putting themselves back in the mix to play finals.
Fremantle Dockers (14th) vs West Coast Eagles (11th) Sunday 19 July 6.35pm @Optus Stadium
The fans in Perth have been waiting patiently for the Derby and there will be 30,000 lucky Fremantle supporters to witness it.
The Dockers scored a remarkable comeback win against the Saints last round so should be full of confidence for this match.
Captain Nat Fyfe injured his hamstring again so will be a big out for the Dockers as they chase their first Derby win since round three 2015.
The Eagles have won two games in a row but they came against the bottom two teams on the ladder so there are still question marks around their form.
Tim Kelly played his best game for the club last round so if he can maintain that form along with Elliot Yeo, Andrew Gaff and the returning Luke Shuey, the Eagles could have too much firepower for the Dockers midfield.
Adelaide Crows (18th) vs St Kilda Saints (7th) Monday 20 July 7.40pm @Adelaide Oval
The Crows just could not buy a win during their stay in Queensland, but hopefully a return to Adelaide Oval can provide them the spark they need to finally get off the mark in 2020.
They never looked like beating the Eagles last week and could only manage a poultry 24 inside 50s giving themselves no chance of kicking a winning score.
In even worse news for the Crows, captain Rory Sloane has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a fractured hand so they will need someone to fill his void in the midfield and also his leadership.
The Saints looked irrepressible in the first quarter against the Dockers last round but let a big lead slip to blow a golden opportunity to cement their place in the top eight.
The loss showed they still have plenty of improvement left in them, but they have enough quality to be able to beat the Crows.
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