Suns to face Port Adelaide

WHAT an intriguing Round 8 and for all the 18 clubs. It doesn't get any easier as the football season begins to farewell the mild, midsummer days of autumn and welcome the true football weather.

Round 9 provides nine games of intrigue; seasons and players reputations on the line, rivalries reignited, coaches under the pump - what a wonderful season 2012 is panning out to be.

Friday night kicks off with a good old-fashioned rivalry: the Dogs and the Cats - It's 10th V11th on the ladder yet the quality in personnel and reputation could not be more vastly different.

The Dogs unconvincingly got the job done against a very poor Gold Coast in Darwin, with Dogs' veteran, Rob Murphy, admitting that the Dogs' run of three six-day breaks in a row, including a demanding trip up to a humid Darwin, could have the potential to take its toll on the players.

Geelong is a shadow of its former self, the reigning premiers and former kings of the contested possession are under the pump and need a win and could quite possibly find it in this game to turn their season around.

Super Saturday begins with another long-standing Victorian rivalry at the home of football. Richmond's record against top eight sides is a stat that they are looking to turn around.

Their efforts against the rampaging Essendon last Saturday night at the Dreamtime clash would've have given them hope but still gives evidence to the fact that despite the talent of Deledio, Cotchin and Martin, they have trouble finishing off games.

Hawthorn, despite being the flavour of the month before the season's launch, have been disappointingly inconsistent. However, their ruthless demolition of Fremantle at their second home at Launceston last week, should give them confidence against an enigmatic Richmond side.

The Suns host Port Adelaide at home at Metricon Stadium in a game that Gold Coast feel they should win. Still with depleted in the midfield without Rischitelli and David Swallow, a lot will rest on the shoulders of Gary Ablett and rising gun, Harley Benell who will have to play another cracker of the game to carry the rest of their teammates over the line.

Port, fresh off their upset of the season with a remarkable last quarter revival over the Kangaroos, will be looking to try and string two consecutive wins for the first time since 2010.

Etihad plays host to two sides renowned for their competitiveness and hardness at the ball. St Kilda delivered an honourable loss against the top-of-the-table West Coast at Patersons Stadium, pushing them all the way after a sapping win against Carlton the week before.

Two six-day breaks may leave them a little lethargic especially with an interstate travel and coming up against a Sydney side, who have exceeded outside expectations and will be brimming with confidence having smashed an insipid Melbourne by 101 points.

Saturday night sees the opening of the AFL newest stadium, Skoda Stadium.

The new home ground of GWS offers an intriguing off-field spectacle with Essendon's longest serving coach lining up against his counterpart, Essendon's golden boy.

Whilst the main focus will be on the Kevin Sheedy-James Hird matchup, the on-field fixture could not be more lopsided, with Essendon's men expected to deliver a footballing lesson to the boys of Sydney's west.

Another intriguing coaching line up presents itself at AAMI stadium when best mates and first-year coaches Nathan Buckley and Brenton Sanderson and their teams clash in a game with 'match-of-the-round' status.

Adelaide are now the talk of the town, destroying Carlton with their physicality and ball movement and with the home crowd behind them, will go into the game as marginal favourites. It's hard to believe that Collingwood are where they are from where they were six weeks ago; but staring at the possibility of six wins on the trot, they come up against a hard, uncompressing Adelaide outfit.

They will be without Ben Reid and Dane Swan, yet play at a venue where they have been surprisingly good.

Sunday afternoon begins at Etihad Stadium where the Kangaroos and Lions will do battle. Both teams are at 3-5 in regards to win-loss, however Brisbane's win have come against the bottom three in Melbourne, Gold Coast and last week against the GWS by 96 points.

The Kangaroos were the flavour of the round nearly two months ago when they rolled Geelong in a ruthless display, yet losses that against the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide, that under-pressure coach Brad Scott labelled as "disgraceful", they are looking every bit of Scott's description. A win here could steady their slow decline against a weak opposition.

In the west, it's a rivalry that stops a state. The West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers, like any good rivalry, it doesn't matter where these teams are on the ladder, a spectacle is never far away - a tipster's nightmare this one.

However, the Eagles come into the game on top of the ladder, yet decimated with injury to key players, like Mark LeCras, Josh Kennedy and Matt Priddis. Priddis may be a welcome inclusion this week coming back from concussion to give fellow on-baller Daniel Kerr a chop-out.

The two things that decimate Fremantle are its personnel and its coach. Form has also been a problem for the Dockers with only one win in the month of May against a woeful Port, but in the Derby; anything's possible.

Lastly, my boys, the Blues will look to rectify an ordinary month of football with a confidence win over Melbourne.

Changes due to form, not rest, look imminent, as do a possibility of change of style and personnel in the midfield as their smaller bodies were battered by a physical Adelaide side.

A polar-opposite to Collingwood's fortunes, Carlton will look to prove to their supporters and the footballing public that they are the real deal and bounce back from two stinging defeats by the Crows and Saints. As for the Demons, no comment.

The only positive they could find from this clash, is that they are facing a side on the decline, could some form of confidence, or dare I say it, motivation, be extracted from that. Time will tell.

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