Round 15- What a round!

In a very unusual round of AFL action, seven out of nine games will be played by teams not more than two positions apart on the ladder, so we can expect a shuffle of ladder spots by Sunday.

The first game of the round will be played on Thursday evening between the two teams currently occupying the top two positions on the ladder: Brisbane (1st) and Melbourne (2nd).

It will be the 50th meeting between the two sides, with Melbourne currently dominating, 27 wins against 22.

The big question here is whether Melbourne will be able to recapture the form that had them as short-priced premiership favorites three weeks ago? I believe they can do that at their home base, the MCG.

Friday night’s game between the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn is one of the few where the neighbor doesn’t face the closest neighbor; but even here, the two sides are separated by just four positions on the ladder, with the Bulldogs currently 10th and Hawthorn 14th.

However, the Bulldogs currently have three wins ahead of Hawthorn and are still seen as having a good chance of making it to the finals in what has been a very even season. Therefore, I believe the Bulldogs have enough incentive to continue their winning form.

The two teams have met 164 times and Hawthorn won 84 games and there were two draws.

Also on Friday night, the struggling west coast (18th) plays host to Essendon (16th). While they have a ‘who cares’ factor as neither side has any hopes for finals, both have shown improved form over the past week. I think the Dons were the most impressive, with a good win over the Saints last week, and should be able to beat the Eagles who were rebuilding themselves.

On Saturday in Docklands, Carlton (5th) will face Fremantle (3rd). The Dockers are favorites for this clash and the return of Nat Fyfe seems to have given them enough power to maintain their ascendancy over the Blues, having won 20 of their 37 games in history.

Patrick Cripps is celebrating.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Richmond are a slight favorite to win Saturday night’s game against Geelong, the 201st meeting between these two clubs. Although it is a home game in Geelong, the game will be played in the MCG, and the Tigers are expected to continue their strong recent performance with Dustin Martin back on the team.

John Longmire – currently the second longest serving senior coach in the AFL – will be at the helm of Sydney’s Saturday night game against St Kilda at the SCG, and this match will put him on par with Port Adelaide’s Mark Williams on the games coached list.

Longmire has an impressive track record as a coach, missing the final in just two years out of 11 he had with the Swans, and his record against St Kilda is even more impressive. He won 80 percent of their home and away matches against them and their only meeting in the final in 2011.

Longmire will be eager to improve on these numbers and consolidate a final eighth position against the club currently in 8th place, who they will meet again in the final round of the home-and-away season.

Sunday’s games will feature two hopeful finalists, Collingwood and Port Adelaide, against the two youngest clubs in the AFL, GWS and Gold Coast. The two losers may have to put aside their ambitions for the final for another 12 months.

Down in Tasmania, North Melbourne and Adelaide will play for little more than pride.