Sir Doug Nicholls Round kicks off with an engrossing encounter between fourth-placed Carlton and fifth-placed Sydney at Marvel Stadium.
The pick of the remaining fixtures this weekend is without question the annual Dreamtime at the ‘G clash between Richmond and Essendon.
See our tips and predictions for Round 10 below:
All times AEST
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Carlton v Sydney
Friday – 7:50pm – Marvel Stadium
It’s a statement game for both Carlton and Sydney on Friday night.
The Blues and Swans kicked the same score (105) in their respective wins over GWS and Essendon last week to further entrench themselves in the top eight.
Carlton finds itself in fourth spot without key players which is a testament to their improvement under coach Michael Voss.
Sitting 7-2 after nine rounds, another win would take the Blues closer to a first finals campaign since 2013.
Meanwhile, the 6-3 Swans got back on the winners list with an easy win over a struggling Bombers outfit. A wayward 14.21 return cost the Bloods further percentage.
A win for John Longmire’s side would see them jump into the top four at Carlton’s expense.
The Swans won their most recent meeting with the Blues by 22 points at the SCG in Round 11 last season.
Prior to last year’s encounter, games between the two clubs have been tight, with the Blues winning narrowly in 2019 (seven points) and 2020 (five points).
It’s a test of Carlton and Sydney’s top four credentials. A tight contest looms.
Tip: Carlton by 7 points.
Geelong v Port Adelaide
Saturday – 1:45pm – GMHBA Stadium
Geelong is back at GMHBA after a couple of weeks away and will be intent on finding some winning form after a couple of defeats in recent times.
Chris Scott’s Cats went down to St Kilda last weekend having comfortably accounted for GWS in Round 8. The week prior it was a narrow loss to Fremantle in a rare home defeat.
Pride in how they play at Kardinia Park is something they hold dear so bouncing back in front of the faithful will be high on the agenda.
They do, however, meet a Port Adelaide side that has rediscovered its mojo with four straight wins.
Ken Hinkley’s Power trounced the Cats in last year’s qualifying final, but the recent head-to-head record has been shared with the two clubs trading results across the last five outings.
The home ground advantage for Geelong is a talking point in this particular matchup considering they’ve won their last seven against Port at this venue, with their last home defeat to the South Aussie club coming in 2007.
Scott might have a problem in the ruck if Rhys Stanley doesn’t get up for this, and they may also be without Patrick Dangerfield due to a virus, but after learning some lessons from Freo and the Saints of late, they should be primed to hit back here.
The Power will make a nuisance of themselves and will likely be in the contest all day, but the home comforts should see the Cats home in a tight one.
Tip: Geelong by 7 points.
Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast
Saturday – 1:45pm – Mars Stadium
Who would’ve thought Western Bulldogs versus Gold Coast would be one of the highlights of Round 10?
After both these sides won last weekend, the Dogs head to Ballarat to take on a resurgent Suns who have won consecutive matches and sits a game and percentage out of top eight.
Gold Coast’s win over Fremantle last was perhaps Stuart Dew’s finest hour as coach, coming at a time where some in footy world continue to link Alastair Clarkson’s name to his job.
A win against the Dogs and three victories on the bounce would put the Suns well within the finals frame – with Saturday’s game essentially an eight-pointer against the ninth-placed Dogs.
If Gold Coast can nullify the Western Bulldogs’ all-star midfield, they’ll fancy their chances of causing somewhat of an upset and notching up another big away win.
Tip: Gold Coast by three points.
North Melbourne v Melbourne
Saturday – 4:35pm – Marvel Stadium
The AFL’s best team meets one of its worst on Saturday afternoon in a clash not set to end well for Kangaroos fans.
Melbourne is yet to taste defeat in 2022 or even be challenged, Simon Goodwin’s men consistently looking a step ahead of every side they’ve come up against in 2022.
While the Demons are often referred to as a side that has another gear that no one can match, it’s the club’s defence that holds them up when they’re not quite clicking higher up the ground.
Steven May and Jake Lever have both had stellar seasons once again and are leading a defence that has conceded just 527 points over nine games, rated No.1 in the competition.
Meanwhile, North Melbourne’s attacking flair is amongst the worst in the competition, only marginally better than West Coast in terms of points scored.
Outside of Nick Larkey (18 goals), the Roos have had a clear lack of forwards targets which has contributed to their poor offence.
With Melbourne coming off a 74-point win over the Eagles where they never got out of first gear, the club’s defence is once again set to be stingy and keep David Noble’s troops to a minimal score, which could see a big margin.
Tip: Melbourne by 62 points.
Adelaide v St Kilda
Saturday – 7:30pm – Adelaide Oval
St Kilda’s Saturday night’s clash against Adelaide shapes as intriguing battle and one the Saints will be hoping to tick off as they look continue pushing towards top four.
The Crows were brave in defeat to Brisbane last week, but have now lost three on the bounce and are in desperate need of a winning performance.
St Kilda will be wary of what shapes as a banana skin game in enemy territory, with Brett Ratten’s side having lost nine of 11 matches at Adelaide Oval.
All eyes will be on selection at Adelaide and whether they decide to bring back Reilly O’Brien to take on both Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall in the ruck.
The Saints have to be favourites here and can’t really afford a slip up if they hold any top four ambitions, but expect Adelaide to challenge on the back of an improved – albeit losing – display against the Lions in Round 9.
Tip: St Kilda by 16 points.
Richmond v Essendon
Saturday – 7:30pm – MCG
The Dreamtime match returns to Melbourne for the first time since 2019 after the 2020 and 2021 instalments were played in Darwin and Perth respectively.
Richmond won comfortably last year after a tight finish the year before and now have claimed 11 on the trot against Essendon in a winning streak that dates back to 2014.
The Tigers enter this edition of Dreamtime at the ‘G on the back of three consecutive victories which has straightened up their season, resulting in them sitting in the top eight.
Damien Hardwick’s side has unlocked their scoring potential in recent weeks, reeling off scores of 165, 113 and 117, to be the competition’s second highest scoring team (prior to the round) behind Brisbane with 899 points, at an average of 99.
On the other end of the scale, the Bombers have conceded three scores of 100+ in their last five outings and have the third leakiest defence in the league leading into this weekend. They are also struggling to put a winning score together, averaging just 76 points per game for the year.
Questions have been asked of Ben Rutten and his side in recent weeks and they simply must respond on a significant date on the footy calendar.
But with their attacking game up and about, and Tom Lynch in devastating form with 17 goals in three weeks, expect the Tigers’ streak over the Bombers to continue.
Tip: Richmond by 25 points.
GWS v West Coast
Sunday – 2:10pm – Giants Stadium
GWS will go in heavy favourites in interim coach Mark McVeigh’s first game in charge as the bottom-placed Eagles head across country to Western Sydney.
Last time out, it was the Giants who prevailed at home, notching a 16-point win in Round 10 of last year.
In that game, the Giants made their presence felt at the stoppage with big bodies Tom Green (three votes), Callan Ward (two votes) and Jacob Hopper (one vote) dominating in the middle.
That’ll be the area of the ground that the Giants will again back themselves in to control, with the Eagles coming in 17th of all sides this year in clearances per game.
With a clear advantage in the middle, GWS should generate plenty of opportunities in front of goal, particularly as the Eagles have conceded more points than any other side so far in 2022.
Even though this match-up is technically a 15th versus 18th battle, it could get ugly for the Eagles such is their horrid form line.
Expect McVeigh to kick his tenure off with a big win at home.
Tip: GWS by 38 points.
Hawthorn v Brisbane
Sunday – 3:20pm – University of Tasmania Stadium
Hawthorn has proven a bogey side for Brisbane in recent years, beating them in both 2021 and 2020.
Last year they got the better of the Lions down in Tasmania and will once again face them at UTAS. Chad Wingard found 32 disposals and kicked 2.2, while Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell combined for 69 touches.
Obviously, it’s a different Hawthorn under coach Sam Mitchell, and both O’Meara and Mitchell are playing more supplementary roles.
The Hawks have looked blistering at their best, but have struggled to sustain it across four quarters, something the battle hardened Lions will expose.
Brisbane sits second on the ladder at 8-1 and have looked formidable at their best. Eric Hipwood will need time to recapture his form at AFL level and the Lions remain without Dan McStay and Joe Daniher – can the Hawks’ defenders expose their lack of height with the likes of James Sicily and Denver Grainger-Barrass?
Expect a bit of a scrappy game, but the question will be whether Hawthorn can kick a winning score.
Despite Hawthorn’s strong record, except the Lions to be too strong down in Tassie given all the circumstances.
Tip: Brisbane by 15 points.
Fremantle v Collingwood
Sunday – 5:20pm – Optus Stadium
Fremantle and Collingwood enter Sunday’s match coming off Round 9 losses.
The Dockers’ six-game winning run came to end at the hands of Gold Coast, kicking just four goals in their 36-point loss at Metricon Stadium.
Back on their home deck at Optus Stadium, Justin Longmuir’s side will look for a swift response in order to preserve their top four status.
The Magpies travel to Perth looking to snap a two-match losing streak.
Collingwood dropped to 11th on the ladder following their 48-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, a performance that disappointed coach Craig McRae.
The Pies were comprehensively beaten in contested possessions (146-106) and clearances (43-27), two key areas they will look to address this week.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t put on a show on Friday night because we haven’t had too many chances to do that,” McRae said post-game.
“I just want to be better than that.”
The Dockers have won their past three encounters against Collingwood, with two of those victories coming in Melbourne.
It’s hard to go past the home side in this one.
Tip: Fremantle by 13 points.