Malinder's AFL previews
TERRY Mallinder previews round 5 of the 2012 AFL season.
DOCKERS v BLUES
At Patersons Stadium, Perth, 8.45pm (AEST)
Recent record: Fremantle 7 Carlton 3.
Last time: R21 2011 - Fremantle 12.13 (85) lost to Carlton 16.19 (115).
Looking like world-beaters a week ago, Carlton suddenly faces the prospect of losing two in a row. The Blues lowered their colours to Essendon last round, and now face the 'Purple Haze' on its home turf, buoyed by its first win in Melbourne in 18 matches, against St Kilda. Carlton has won four of its past six games in Perth, and easily beat the Dockers in their last match-up over there. But, though the Blues should welcome back forward Andrew Walker, they will be without on-baller Andrew Carrazzo and dangerous halfback Chris Yarran. The Dockers should regain playmaker Nat Fyfe.
GIANTS v BULLDOGS
At Manuka Oval, Canberra, 1.45pm
Recent record: N/A.
Last time: N/A.
The Giants host the Bulldogs in the nation's capital, with the Julia Gillard Cup (actually it's the Prime Minister's Cup) up for grabs. In years to come, the teams may end up vying for the Callan Ward Trophy, with the popular ex-Dog leading from the front as co-captain at GWS, picking up a game-high 33 touches in his side's respectable 46-point loss to Adelaide last week when they out tackled the Crows. Despite glaring holes in their line-up - up forward and down back - the Dogs got on the winners' list by holding off Melbourne last round and should make it two from two.
KANGAROOS v SUNS
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 4.40pm
Recent record: North 1 Gold Coast 0.
Last time: R12 2011 - North 18.14 (122) def Gold Coast 9.9 (63).
Following their 36-point loss to Sydney, the Roos have the perfect chance to rebound. The Suns, coming off a deflating 65-point defeat at the hands of Brisbane, have been struggling all season, but has now had their heart ripped out with their three best midfielders - skipper Gary Ablett, Michael Rischitelli and David Swallow - and their rebounding half-back Jarrod Harbrow all injured. Jack Ziebell, Liam Anthony, Ryan Bastinac, Daniel Wells, Andrew Swallow and Brent Harvey should have a field day in the middle. The Roos are No.1 for disposals and No.2 for clearances. This could be messy.
DEMONS v SAINTS
At the MCG, 7.40pm
Recent record: Melbourne 2 St Kilda 8.
Last time: R9 2011 - St Kilda 16.10 (106) def Melbourne 13.8 (86).
The Saints are a shadow of their former selves, but should go marching in and make it seven straight against the Demons. St Kilda became Fremantle's first scalp in Melbourne in 18 visits last week, and lost Justin Koschitzke to suspension, but has the chance to hit back with Melbourne still winless and in the GWS-Gold Coast class. Though showing more fight in a 21-point loss the Bulldogs last week, the Demons are averaging a staggering 50 less disposals a game (289) than the 17th ranked team. Colin Sylvia's return should help a little.
LIONS v CATS
At the Gabba, Brisbane, 7.40pm
Recent record: Brisbane 1 Geelong 9
Last time: R17 2011 - Geelong 20.13 (133) def Brisbane Lions 15.14 (104)
With the Cats' bad run of form - trounced by North and then only just got over Richmond last week - the Lions will be quietly confident of causing an upset, and achieving a win for Simon Black in his 300th. But while Geelong has veteran defender Matty Scarlett returning from suspension to help combat Jonathan Brown and young Aaron Cornelius, who booted three and four goals respectively in Brisbane's 65-point win over Gold Coast, the Lions face a mammoth task trying to stop James Podsiadly, who slotted eight goals last time the two sides met, and Tom Hawkins. The midfield battle will be pivotal to the cause.
HAWKS v SWANS
At Aurora Stadium, Launceston, 1.10pm
Recent record: Hawthorn 5 Sydney 5.
Last time: SF 2011 - Hawthorn 19.8 (122) d Sydney Swans 13.8 (86).
The ladder can be deceiving this time of year. The Swans, second and undefeated, will find the going tough in Tassie against the Hawks, outside the eight with two wins but almost came away successful from the toughest assignment in footy - playing West Coast in Perth. The Swans regain Adam Goodes from suspension for his club record 304th game, but are still without an even more important player, ruckman Shane Mumford. The Hawks finally look set to regain skipper inspirational Luke Hodge, as well as rebounding defender Grant Birchall, from injury.
TIGERS v EAGLES
At Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, 3.15pm
Recent record: Richmond 3 West Coast 7
Last time: R20 2011 - West Coast 22.15 (147) def Richmond 13.12 (90).
The Tigers are not travelling as bad as their 1-3 record might suggest, outdoing Geelong in contested possessions and clearances as they almost pulled off an upset last week. Perched atop the ladder, the Eagles though are the form team of the competition, with Daniel Kerr stepping up in the tight win over the Hawks last week with 33 touches, combining well with youngsters Scott Selwood and Andrew Gaff in the midfield. Jack Riewoldt booted 10 goals for Richmond last time the two teams met in Melbourne. He's kicked just six in four games this season.
CROWS v POWER
At AAMI Stadium, Adelaide, 4.40pm (AEST)
Recent record: Adelaide 5 Port 5.
Last time: R19 2011 - Adelaide 16.15 (111) def Port Adelaide 11.13 (79).
It's Showdown XXXII, and the Crows will be looking to finally string two wins on the trot against the Power for the first time in four years. Adelaide, coming off a less than convincing 46-point win over GWS, will have to do it without Bernie Vince (broken hand). Port, which put up a solid fight against Collingwood away last week, will miss Robbie Gray (knee). Key Crow forwards Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker could ultimately prove the difference, as long as they've got their kicking boots on.