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Why Carlton v Richmond is the most important game of round two


Daniel Cherny

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Battle of the winless

Winless teams with top-four aspirations in 2014 are set to clash in round two, leaving a tough battle ahead for the losers.

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1. Carlton v Richmond

Both talked up a storm in pre-season, but losses to unfancied interstate opponents have set up arguably the season’s first must-win encounter between the traditional rivals.What had in recent seasons served as the opening clash on the Victorian football calendar, the Thursday night blockbuster has now been sent to round two, but with action returning for the first time in 2014 to the MCG, there should a packed house. The Tigers had seemingly overcome their Carlton hoodoo after the corresponding clash last season, but two subsequent losses to the Blues including last year’s elimination final capitulation would doubtless have awoken old doubts.

2. Sydney v Collingwood

A packed house should be in attendance for Richmond v Carlton.

A packed house should be in attendance for Richmond v Carlton. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Another two sides who have had a fortnight to mull over their first-round losses clash at ANZ Stadium, and again the stakes are high. Collingwood were woeful against the Dockers, but have a strong record against the Swans at the venue, having lost just once there since 2005, and just twice to Sydney in all over the same period. Things have not quite reached panic stations for the Swans after their shock loss to GWS, but another defeat here when favoured will heap serious pressure only two weeks into the audacious Lance Franklin experiment.

3. Essendon v Hawthorn

The premiers take on arguably last weekend’s most impressive winners in front of what will be a sell-out crowd at Etihad Stadium. Hawthorn eased into the season, wearing every punch the Brisbane Lions had to throw in Launceston before careering away late. They will probably need to step it up a gear though to overcome the Bombers, who far from being fazed by the drama unfolding around them on Friday instead dismantled North Melbourne. Paul Chapman vowed never to lose to the Hawks after the 2008 grand final, and while playing at Geelong was able to keep true to his word. Another vintage performance from the new Bomber fan favourite might be necessary to win this clash of bitter enemies.

The Hawks will probably need to step it up a gear though to overcome the Bombers.

The Hawks will probably need to step it up a gear though to overcome the Bombers. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

4. Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne

The last of the three square-offs between two of round one's vanquished sees two flat-track bullies shape up at a venue where both played clearly their best football last season. North Melbourne have as much to play for as anyone this weekend, humiliated by the Bombers on the prime time stage after receiving a heap of fanfare all summer long. The Bulldogs were equally disappointing out west but have proven tricky opponents at times for higher-rated opposition at Etihad Stadium in recent times.

5. Port Adelaide v Adelaide

North Melbourne and the Bulldogs were equally disappointing in round one.

North Melbourne and the Bulldogs were equally disappointing in round one. Photo: Pat Scala

Even by Showdown standards this one looms as an enticing clash. The brand new Adelaide Oval is unveiled, and after Port pinched two epic duels last season the Crows will be desperate to stem their rivals’ growing momentum in the City of Churches. Then there’s the "jumpergate" drama that enlivened February like few footy controversies before it, and the chance for the Power to put an early eight-point gulf between themselves and a side likely to be challenging them for a finals berth. The Saturday twilight slot ensures that all eyes in the footy world will be squarely focused on South Australia for this one.

6. St Kilda v GWS

This presents an unlikely opportunity for two lowly sides from 2013 to go unbeaten through a couple of a rounds. For a club as fledgling as the Giants, every victory is in some respect groundbreaking, and having overcome their big brother Swans for the first time in round one, they will now be looking for a maiden victory outside of Sydney or Canberra. The Saints impressed with their intensity, and this is a genuine chance for them as well to make further inroads in Alan Richardson’s first season at the helm. An intriguing afternoon awaits at Etihad Stadium.

7. Brisbane Lions v Geelong

The Lions very nearly achieved a miraculous double against the Cats last season, coming from the clouds to win after the siren at the Gabba and then suffering a cruel finals near miss in the last round of the year at Simonds Stadium. Much has changed in Brisbane since then, but Justin Leppitsch’s men would have surprised a few with a spirited showing against Hawthorn. The loss of Tom Rockliff will be a major setback, and with Geelong hitting their straps late against Adelaide, this is a tough assignment. A 12:10 pm start in Brisbane due to a lack of daylight savings poses its own set of challenges. The long-range forecast is for 33 degrees and 68 per cent humidity. How the Cats’ veterans cope with the unfamiliar conditions presents an interesting sub-plot.

8. Melbourne v West Coast

Defeat to a heavily undermanned Saints’ outfit would doubtless have served as a reality check for Paul Roos and the Melbourne faithful, the difficulty of the impending challenge to regain respectability and then wins put starkly into focus. Return to the more familiar expanses of the MCG should assist the Demons’ cause, but West Coast were back to their suffocating and clinical best on Sunday against the Bulldogs, and even if they can redress their accuracy issues in front of goal, it is hard to see Melbourne opening their account this Sunday.

9. Fremantle v Gold Coast

Eight games were played since the Dockers pummelled the Magpies into submission, yet there was still probably no round one winner who looked more ominous than Fremantle. Back at home where they have won 17 out of their past 18 games, the Dockers are football’s immovable object. The Suns may have built momentum at home, but this will be well and truly a bridge across the Nullarbor too far.

16 comments so far

  • Hate to say this however, Essendon with Goddard settled in his second year and chapman adding that extra punch, could prove to be a genuine flag threat. Hawks with McEvoy as ruck look as strong as ever. Carltons loss showed Port truly are a good team and last year was not a honeymoon with new coach. Dees are hurting from missing key forwards. Carlton well. I hope in wrong but appear to have fallen of the pace slightly. However Mick can get teams to surprise. Going to be a great season.

    Date and time
    March 24, 2014, 5:31PM
    • Essendon beat North mate - the perennial underachievers. Even if the dons keep the whole squad on the ground (and that's a big if), they will have to prove themselves against a couple of better teams. The Hawks don't like the dons and will be ready to take them apart.

      Lots of good games this week including swans/woods, port/crows and blues/tiges. But none are must win.

      wear the fox hat
      Date and time
      March 24, 2014, 8:29PM
    • Mick will have his boys fired up, for he still has issues with Richmond, ( and west coast and Collingwood) maybe one day he can learn to move on

      Go Pies

      Franco Cozzo
      North Melbourne Footscray & Brunswick
      Date and time
      March 24, 2014, 9:24PM
    • I realise that North, until they actually win enough to. play finals have a big ? mark their. However given the of field woes last year they did well. For most of the year were top 2. I think Chapman instant impact and truly adds to the Dons Fire power, Goddard will play better in his second year as a Don, Young Daniher will just keep getting better. While I believe Bomber Thompson a proven Premiership Coach will get the best out of this team. He is only Coach for 1 year, no pressure re keeping his job, his relaxed, enjoying it and his Demeanour will suit the Bombers on and of the Field. I hope I'm wrong however don't be surprised to see them top 4 and at very least be one of the GF teams.

      Go Blues
      Date and time
      March 25, 2014, 10:30AM
    • Franco Cozzo, Mick has moved on. Collingwood have gone backwards since he got knifed. Buckley is not the messiah. Ask yourself this. Did Collingwood have a team talented enough to do a Geelong and be contenders for a sustained time. Answer yes. Question why now are they rebuilding?

      Go Blues
      Date and time
      March 25, 2014, 4:00PM
    • Franco Cozzo. It seems you have the issues re moving on. By the way Collingwood have gone backwards since Mick got moved on, do you agree? Do you believe the Pies may have cost another flag or two by replacing Mick with Buckley?

      Carlton on the rise
      Date and time
      March 25, 2014, 4:55PM
  • just a few points
    1: Why are we not heading in to round 3?
    2: This coming round should have been last week.
    3: Essendon are the form team and will be until ASADA issue infraction notices
    4: What will be said about L Franklin if Sydney loose again?
    5: Carlton/Richmond should have been played two week ago.
    6: Collingwood? A premiership in three years? yeh, right.
    7: St Kilda/GWS. Now that is going to be a game worth watching.
    8: Randon tip: Freo/West Coast Grandfinal. The ultimate derby.

    Date and time
    March 24, 2014, 6:50PM
    • ASADA. Are a joke, while for a short time I enjoyed seeing Essendon in the spotlight, this issue should have been resolved after 6 months. Not good enough, not fair on Essendon, more importantly its players or supporters. Not convinced the players will get infraction notices, did they knowingly breach laws. They signed of on forms that at best misled them, if some reports are true.

      Go Blues
      Date and time
      March 25, 2014, 10:38AM
    • That's nonsense, Go Blues. ASADA have taken so long because the Essendon program was shambolic. No records were kept and no-one properly supervised Dank and co. and subsequently can't be certain what he was up to (which were the reasons Hird, Thompson, Corcoran and the club were sanctioned, too, NOT because they necessarily deliberately fed their players PEDs - a fact Hird and his supporters STILL don't get. It's preposterous to say "we didn't know what the players were taking" is somehow a defence.) Also, Dank's sacking by the club meant the most important figure in this saga was not compelled to speak to ASADA - a loophole in the legislation that needs to be fixed. Finally, as Dave Culbert has continually pointed out, if you were an Olympic athlete and used the "I didn't know what I was taking but the backroom boys told me it was fine" argument as a defence, you'd be met with derision. Why should it be any different for footballers?
      The WADA code is crystal clear in placing the onus for ensuring no banned substances are taken on the athlete in all but the most exceptional of circumstances.

      Tyger Tyger
      Date and time
      March 28, 2014, 1:37AM
  • Tigers/Blues, Hawks/bombers, Port/Crows - it's a bit rivalry round-ish. Not much said about Port, but I think we will find this weekend that they are a genuine top 4 contender. The Saints or GWS kids might end up getting the confidence Port got from winning their first few games in 2013.

    Date and time
    March 24, 2014, 8:56PM

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