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Early assessment challenge

A Thursday night AFL game makes it interesting to assess who will and won’t be available for selection over the entire weekend. Sportsword will do its best to point you in the right direction as far as settling on selections, but it’s imperative  you keep your ear to the ground and betting markets should prove an invaluable guide. Not many punters would have tipped Fremantle and Sydney to win on the road last weekend, which again proves that tipping these days is a much harder task than in previous years.

AFL (Round 12)

3-EAGLES v 9-BLUES: The Blues gave the Cats a run for their money last Friday night, but they have only won three of their past seven games following a courageous win over the Dockers in Perth in Round 5. The Blues have won five of their past seven games in WA, but on this occasion they’re facing an Eagles outfit who have been dynamite at home in 2012, who are refreshed after the bye and who are determined to hit back after a shock loss in Brisbane a fortnight ago. An injury-ravaged Blues were wonderful before going down to the Eagles in a classic semi-final last year in Perth, but it’s hard to see the home side letting this one slip. Tip: EAGLES
5-CROWS v 8-SAINTS: The Crows had the bye last weekend and have every right to feel confident after a last start win in Perth at the expense of the Dockers. The Saints warmed up for their Adelaide assignment with a comprehensive road win over the disappointing Suns. A trip to the Gold Coast perhaps wasn’t the ideal preparation for what should be a tremendous Friday night match. Adelaide, who are good enough to finish in the top four, have been pretty good at home this season having only succumbed to the Magpies, while you never know what the Saints will produce on a week to week basis. Tip: CROWS
17-GIANTS v 11-TIGERS: The Tigers, who blew a golden opportunity to enhance their finals prospects with a loss at home to the unpredictable Dockers, don’t need reminding that they fell to the Suns when both teams clashed in Cairns last year. The Tigers don’t deserve a spot in the top eight should they fall to a new franchise for the second straight year. For three quarters the Giants, who put the Bombers to the test in their first home game at Hoembush, will prove highly competitive, but come fulltime the Tigers should be comfortably in front. Tip: TIGERS
18-SUNS v 12-KANGAROOS: This match should pan out like the Giants-Kangaroos encounter. However, there should be some added spice in this game as both teams have been bashed from pillar to post, and rightly so, after totally inept displays in recent weeks. The youth policy at the Suns is showing signs of backfiring and the Kangaroos appear to be going backwards after an encouraging start to the year. The Kangaroos got the Suns by 34 points in Melbourne in Round 5 and should prevail, but expect a bold showing from the Suns. Tip: KANGAROOS
6-HAWKS v 14-LIONS: From the outset, you’d like to be on the Hawks. Hodge has been a big loss, but in recent weeks the Hawks have clicked into gear and they are certainly living up to their billing as pre-season premiership favourites. Franklin is 11 goals short of kicking 500 in his career, so the Lions must find the answers in defence or suffer the same fate as what Kangaroos endured in Launceston. Although the Lions are likely to welcome back the influential Black for the match, they must show the spirit they exhibited against the Eagles two weeks ago to have any chance. An upset result this weekend is possible, but it’s hard to see it occurring in this match. Tip: HAWKS
15-BULLDOGS v 13-POWER: Earlier in the season, the Power produced an awful first quarter against the Magpies at Etihad Stadium before surging in the next three quarters before going down by a respectable 24 points. A repeat performance against the Bulldogs, who were smashed in Sydney a fortnight ago, might well see the Adelaide outfit register their second straight win on the road. The only way is up for the Bulldogs and the fact that they’re playing at home perhaps sways the scales in their favour. The Bulldogs have showed patches of good form at Etihad Stadium this year and must put four good quarters together if they envisage rolling the Power. Tip: BULLDOGS


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