Mallinder's Musing for round 21
BULLDOGS V MAGPIES
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 7.50pm
RECENT RECORD: Bulldogs 4 Collingwood 6
LAST TIME: R10 2016: WB 11.8 (74) def Coll 7.11 (53) at the MCG
LAST WEEK: WB (61) def NM (47); Coll (77) lost to Rich (92)
AFTER halting a mini-slump of back-to-back defeats - and with a spot in the top four still up for grabs - the Bulldogs (13-6) will be determined to maintain the rage and make it four wins on the trot against Collingwood (8-11). The Magpies have now lost three of their past four and, believe it or not, haven't won at Docklands in more than two years. To have any chance of an upset, the Magpies are going to need to keep a tight leash on hot Dog Luke Dahlhaus, who has gathered disposal hauls of 37, 29 and 29 in his past three games against them.
LIONS V BLUES
At the Gabba, Brisbane, 1.45pm
RECENT RECORD: Brisbane 6 Carlton 4
LAST TIME: R11 2016: Carl 16.6 (102) def BL 9.10 (64) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: BL (39) lost to Adel (177); Carl (51) lost to StK (122)
BRISBANE (2-17) will need to register its third biggest form reversal if it is bounce back from its second biggest ever defeat - 138 points at the hands of Adelaide. It's not beyond the Lions against the visiting Blues (6-13), who have lost their past two games at the Gabba, and past eight games this season. Now ranked last for contested disposals, the Blues are unlikely to get any help from skipper Marc Murphy (ankle), who may still be a week away. The hosts will welcome back ruckman Stef Martin (rested) to help their cause.
HAWKS V KANGAROOS
At the MCG, 2.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Hawthorn 8 North 2
LAST TIME: R13 2016: Haw 14.9 (93) d NM 11.18 (84) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: Haw (81) lost to Melb (110); NM (47) lost to WB (61)
THE unsociable Hawks are sure to return this week - and not just because they're playing old sparring partner the Roos. The champs (15-4) lose this one and they'll well and truly fall off their perch, and out of the top four, due to their poor percentage. They've lost Ben Stratton (pectoral), but should welcome back fellow defender James Frawley (shoulder) and harassing forward Paul Puopolo (hip). The Hawks have won six of their past seven against the Roos, who have now lost their past six this year against top-eight teams.
GIANTS V EAGLES
At Spotless Stadium, Sydney, 4.35pm
RECENT RECORD: GWS 0 West Coast 4
LAST TIME: R5 2015: West Coast 18.12 (120) def GWS 4.9 (33) at Subiaco
LAST WEEK: GWS (92) def GC (84); WC (110) def Frem (64)
THE Giants (14-5) only have three teams left to mark off as having beaten - Collingwood, North and West Coast. They haven't just lost all four games to the Eagles (13-6), they've been smashed - by 87, 111, 100 and 81 points. That said, GWS should break its duck at home ... as long as Phil Davis can keep Eagles spearhead Josh Kennedy in check. The Coleman Medal leader has kicked 22 goals in his past three games against GWS. The hosts will be boosted by the return of midfielder Dylan Shiel (groin).
SAINTS V SWANS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 7.25pm
RECENT RECORD: StK 3 Sydney 7
LAST TIME: R22 2015: Syd 20.15 (135) d StK 4.14 (38) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: StK (122) def Carl (51); Syd (100) def PA (33)
HAVING won six of its past eight games, St Kilda (10-9) has got itself into a position to challenge for an unlikely spot in the top eight, and it'll deserve it if it can upset second-placed Sydney (14-5). The Swans have won their past five against the Saints - and the past three by 97, 71 and 59 points. The ace up the Saints' sleeve is ex-Swan Tim Membrey, who has kicked 39 goals in 14 games this season, including another five last week, after none in one game with Sydney in 2014. He could have a great battle with Dane Rampe in his first game against his old side.
POWER V DEMONS
At Adelaide Oval, 7.40pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Port 8 Melbourne 2
LAST TIME: R10 2016: Port 18.13 (121) def Melb 10.16 (76) in Darwin
LAST WEEK: PA (33) lost to Syd (100); Melb (108) def Haw (81)
AFTER toppling ladder-leader Hawthorn for the first time in 10 years, with its intensity and hard-running, of course expect perennial disappointments Melbourne (9-10) to drop its bundle against Port (9-10), which could only put four goals on the board against Sydney as it suffered a 161-point turnaround after its big win over Brisbane. Though they are set to welcome back power forward Jesse Hogan (knee), the Demons have lost their past seven against the Power, and haven't beaten them in Adelaide since 2000.
BOMBERS V SUNS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 1.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Essendon 4 Gold Coast 2
LAST TIME: R1 2016: GC 17.19 (121) def Ess 9.7 (61) at Carrara
LAST WEEK: Ess (34) lost to Geel (100), GC (84) lost to GWS (92)
THE Suns (6-13) get a golden chance to continue their impressive finish to the season - and win a first game at Docklands since May 2014. They lost their first game there against the Bombers (1-18) in 2011 by 139 points. The shoe will be on other foot this time, with Tom Lynch set to add another bag to his 61-goal season tally and Steven May poised to prevent them down the other end after his 27-disposal, 14-mark display against that formidable GWS attack last week. Aaron Hall and Adam Saad (both hamstring) are set to return to bolster the visitors through the middle and halfback.
TIGERS V CATS
At the MCG, 3.20pm
RECENT RECORD: Richmond 0 Geelong 10
LAST TIME: R5 2015: Geel 12.13 (85) d Rich 11.10 (76) at the MCG
LAST WEEK: Rich (92) def Coll (77); Geel (100) def Ess (34)
WHILE it's been 10 years since Richmond has beaten Geelong, it's been 17 since the Tigers (8-11) have overcome the Cats at the 'G - and they look unlikely to break the drought this week. Building towards a return to finals, the Cats (14-5) are on a four-match winning streak. The most interest in the match will be the clash in the middle between Paddy Dangerfield and his big-bodied fellow Brownlow Medal contender Dustin Martin, ranked two and four for total disposals, respectively.
DOCKERS V CROWS
At Domain Stadium, Perth, 4.40pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Fremantle 5 Adelaide 5
LAST TIME: R6 2016: Adel 14.13 (97) d Frem 8.16 (64) in Adelaide
LAST WEEK: Frem (64) lost to WC (110); Adel (177) def BL (39)
AFTER toppling West Coast in round 12, a red-hot Adelaide (14-5) has the chance to win two games in Perth in the same season for the first time. The third-placed Crows have kicked 49 goals in the past two weeks against bottom two Essendon and Brisbane and now face third-last Fremantle (3-16), which has kicked just 50 goals in its past six games, all resulting in losses. The visitors are set to welcome back young forward Mitch McGovern and veteran midfielder Scott Thompson after both were rested last week, however, ruckman Sam Jacobs (ankle) won't be risked.