Round 18 will be a hair-raising split round and all teams will be pushing hard for a spot in the finals.
Blues v Roos, Etihad Stadium, Friday
North Melbourne will be looking to win their third match on the trot while at the same time consolidating their position in the top eight for another week. The Blues have lost four out of their past five and currently languish in 14th spot on the table.
Newsroom’s prediction: North Melbourne by 40
Saints v Dockers, Etihad Stadium, Saturday
St Kilda have endured a horror season so far in 2014, currently occupying bottom spot on the ladder. The Dockers will be hoping to maintain the pressure on fellow high-flyers the Sydney Swans at the summit of the table by coming away with a comfortable victory from this encounter.
Newsroom’s prediction: Fremantle by 30
Giants v Cats, Spotless Stadium, Saturday
Geelong will be looking to triumph in their fourth consecutive match and keep a spot in the top four as a result, while the Giants will be striving to avoid their fourth straight defeat after going down to the Dockers in their most recent contest last week.
Newsroom’s prediction: Geelong by 50
Power v Demons, Adelaide Oval, Sunday
Port have been in a free-fall over the last month of football, losing their past three matches to sensationally slip outside of the top four. They will view this encounter against the Demons as a fantastic opportunity to steady the ship on their top four aspirations this season.
Newsroom’s prediction: Melbourne by 30
Bulldogs v Bombers, Etihad Stadium, Sunday
Both teams are coming off last start victories over sides that were above them on the ladder, with Essendon continuing Collingwood’s recent woes with a thumping victory last Sunday. The Bulldogs condemned the Suns to a defeat in their first game without captain Gary Ablett, Jr.
Newsroom’s prediction: Essendon by 50
Eagles v Tigers, Patterson’s Stadium, Friday
The Eagles snapped a two-match losing streak last weekend against the struggling Brisbane Lions, while Richmond will be looking to continue their marvellous form over the last month by registering their fourth successive victory in this game.
Newsroom’s prediction: Richmond by 30
Lions v Suns, Gabba, Saturday
Both teams will be attempting to overturn defeats from last week. The Suns minus Ablett went down to the Bulldogs last weekend while the Lions are currently languishing in 17th spot on the ladder after losing four of their past five encounters.
Newsroom’s prediction: Gold Coast by 30
Hawks v Swans, MCG, Saturday
Both sides will be looking to establish dominance over the other before the finals series. The Swans will be looking for an incredible lucky 13th straight victory in this contest while the Hawks will be searching for a victory to climb level with Sydney on 52 points at the top of the table.
Newsroom’s prediction: Hawthorn by 60
Magpies v Crows, MCG, Sunday 27
Struggling team Collingwood will face the Crows for the final match of Round 18. As if the very likely retirement of former captain Nick Maxwell wasn’t enough, the Magpies have lost four of their last five matches to slip to eighth on the ladder. They face the very realistic possibility of finishing the round in the lower half of the table if they fall to the Crows.
Newsroom’s prediction: Collingwood by 20 – Jackson Miller
Top photo by Daniel Walker.