Updated: Jul 31, 2020
The festival of footy is upon us! Four rounds of football, not a day without a game. Here come the divorces! Kicking off with a belter, round nine promises to provide plenty of quality football.
Squarely in the mid-table battle, this is a critical game for both squads. Two desperate teams will turn up. Expect the football to be hot. Coming off a gritty win against the Gold Coast, the Bulldogs can push into the top four with a fifth win in six games. It's been a terrific turnaround from their early-season battles. Winners of two of their last three against Richmond, they'll fancy their chances against a weakened Tiger outfit.
Richmond - without a plethora of top 22 players - has been terrific in keeping their season ticking over. Despite last week's road loss to GWS, the reigning premiers remain a daunting task for any team they face. Gold Coast's pressure ruffled the Bulldogs last week, expect Richmond to bounce back with a high-pressure game.
Richmond by 16 points.
Another ripsnorter! Melbourne faces Port Adelaide in what is a season-defining game for the Demons. Despite their impressive form reversal, Melbourne sits in 13th place, a win and half outside of the eight. It's simple, they must win games against teams in front of them if they want to play finals. Taking confidence from losing by less than a kick against the second-placed Brisbane Lions, they get another shot at a top-four team here when they take on league leaders Port.
Port Adelaide - who suffered a frustrating five-goal loss last week - will be keen to not let their brilliant start count for nothing. Having performed well at the Gabba this year, Port will return to Brisbane to claim four more points.
Port Adelaide by 7 points.
Exhibiting their growth at every opportunity, Carlton look to increase the pressure on Hawthorn's Alistair Clarkson. Challenged by North last week, Carlton showed a new level of maturity to still come away with four points. This is especially so when considering the nature of the previous week's heartbreaking loss to Port.
Finally, it looks like the relentless chase of another premiership has caught up with the Hawks. Fair play to them; this was something they had to do. It is clear now, it is time to rebuild. Whilst Clarkson seems desperate to give his senior players every chance to turn the tide, providing an opportunity to the youth of their list might just expedite any rebuilding process they may have to begin.
Carlton by 19 points.
Friday's second game could be anything. Essendon's defensive pressure and overall intensity will determine the quality of this clash. Whilst the Lion's should win this one regardless, a lackluster Essendon showing could result in one of the season's real floggings.
Essendon - already with no forward line to speak of - has now lost two more forward options. Their only chance here is to tackle their socks off. If they are unable to prevent the Lion's winning the ball in the midfield, they can't win this game.
Brisbane's playing group looked underwhelmed after their round eight win over Melbourne. So much so that it appeared coach Chris Fagan was revving his team up, not during the game, but during the team song! Fagan clearly appreciates all wins in 2020 are of even more importance than normal, regardless of how they come. I suspect the playing group may have copped a little rocket over this. Expect a response.
Brisbane by 29 points.
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