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Why it’s D-Day for the competitors’s most under-siege coach.

Plus the make-or-break second for dynasty aspect that can form the highest eight.

Each membership’s burning query forward of Spherical 20, in addition to the Fox Footy Podcast ‘Cups’, suggestions and commentators for each Fox Footy sport in our final weekly preview: The Blowtorch!

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ROUND 20 GAMES (all occasions AEST)

ST KILDA v CARLTON

Friday July 30, 7:50pm at Marvel Stadium

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 7:00pm hosted by Garry Lyon with Jonathan Brown, Nick Riewoldt, Kath Loughnan and Jon Ralph, adopted by First Crack with Ben Dixon, Nick Dal Santo and Cameron Mooney.

Saints’ burning query: Can Max King again up his breakout efficiency?

Final week we noticed the beginning of a brand new star ahead within the AFL when St Kilda teenager Max King tore West Coast’s backline to shreds. The previous No. 4 draft choose lastly confirmed the footy world what all of the hype has been about, as he booted a career-best six targets and took a whopping eight contested marks – two shy of the benchmark since information started – in a efficiency that nearly dragged the Saints throughout the road over within the west in opposition to the Eagles. Nevertheless it’s truthful to say he might be up in opposition to stiffer opposition this week than West Coast eight-gamer Harry Edwards. King’s direct opponent this week will virtually actually be Carlton star Jacob Weitering who’s in sizzling rivalry for his first All-Australian jumper. If King can produce the same efficiency on Friday night time to the one he produced final spherical, then he would have properly and really arrived as a footballer.

Blues’ burning query: Is David Teague’s job on the road?

The jungle drums are beating at Carlton over the way forward for coach David Teague, who’s come underneath immense stress after final week’s defeat to the last-placed Kangaroos. It was merely the loss they couldn’t afford to have amid an exterior assessment – which foxfooty.com.au’s Tom Morris reported on On the Sofa was 80 per cent full regardless of North Melbourne’s improved kind in latest weeks. It was the Blues’ lack of effort and general construction that appeared notably dire – issues that ought to largely fall on the coach. Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall stated on AFL360: “It’s superb how one efficiency can simply undo all of that and produce them crashing straight again to earth. Sadly they simply can’t afford performances like that.” Each end result from right here is essential for Teague – notably throughout the assessment and againstequally

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: St Kilda 14-1

Loads of jobs on the road at Carlton | 01:07

WESTERN BULLDOGS v ADELAIDE CROWS

Saturday July 31, 12:30pm at Mars Stadium

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 503 from 12:00pm with Mark Howard internet hosting the decision with Gerard Healy, Brad Johnson and Nick Dal Santo

Bulldogs’ burning query: How will the backline maintain up with out Alex Keath?

The Doggies’ defence copped an enormous blow final week when linchpin Alex Keath needed to be subbed out of their top-of-the-ladder conflict with Melbourne as a result of a hamstring damage within the first quarter on the MCG. It’s since been revealed that he’ll virtually actually sit out the rest of the home-and-away season. If the Bulldogs need to hold onto high spot, developing with an efficient option to cowl for Keath might very properly be key to these plans. And whereas the Crows shouldn’t put up an excessive amount of of a problem on the scoreboard, they do possess probably the most harmful key forwards within the competitors in Taylor Walker, so the Canine’ backline will definitely get a pleasant take a look at early into this era with out Keath. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they’ve a reasonably straightforward run residence, however do come up in opposition to Port Adelaide within the final spherical with the likes of Charlie Dixon and Mitch Georgiades in assault. Josh Schache’s spectacular efficiency down again couldn’t have come at a greater time for Luke Beveridge’s staff, and the approaching return of Easton Wooden is well timed as properly.

Crows’ burning query: Is the third time the attraction?

Wanting on the Crows‘ win-loss file of 6-12, it may be laborious to grasp that two of their victories have come in opposition to reputable premiership contenders in Geelong and Melbourne. It simply so occurs that they do battle with one other flag fancy this week within the type of the Western Bulldogs. Can Matthew Nicks’ make it a hat-trick of wins in opposition to competitors heavyweights? The percentages are stacked in opposition to them, however that was additionally the case in opposition to the Cats and Demons, too. One factor that these performances present is that on their day, after they’re completely switched on, Adelaide don’t concern anybody and again themselves in any state of affairs. The bottom being mainly a impartial venue received’t harm their trigger both. It actually received’t be straightforward, in spite of everything, the Doggies sit on high of the ladder for a motive. But when the likes of Rory Laird, Ben Keays, Paul Seedsman, Walker, Darcy Fogarty and Reilly O’Brien are all able to enjoying at their optimum ranges for many of the afternoon, they may give themselves a sniff.

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: Western Bulldogs 15-0

NORTH MELBOURNE v GEELONG CATS

Saturday July 31, 1:15pm at Blundstone Enviornment

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 1:00pm with Dwayne Russell internet hosting the decision with Jonathan Brown, Nick Riewoldt, Ben Dixon, Sarah Jones and Tom Morris.

Kangaroos’ burning query: Can the large gap left by Ben Cunnington be crammed?

The footy world was shocked to be taught this week that star North Melbourne midfielder Ben Cunnington required a testicular tumour to be surgically eliminated. The operation clearly guidelines Cunnington out of motion for the foreseeable future, together with his restoration taking priority above all the things else. If taking over one of many strongest outfits within the AFL wasn’t laborious sufficient, doing it with out the man who’s ranked No. 1 at your membership for common disposals, tackles, clearances and contested possessions actually makes issues tough for the Kangaroos. We noticed how essential Cunnington is to the aspect a couple of rounds in the past when North, after actually difficult Essendon, ultimately fell by three targets with out their chief destroyer within the center doing his factor. Cunnington is mainly irreplaceable, however that doesn’t imply the Kangaroos midfield unit can’t come collectively and choose up the slack. The likes of Jy Simpkin, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Bailey Scott and recently-returned laborious nut Jed Anderson will actually must put in some big efforts in opposition to the well-drilled Cats, particularly with certainly one of North’s chief architects of their win over Carlton final week, Tarryn Thomas, additionally dominated out as a result of concussion.

Cats’ burning query: Might unfamiliar territory be unsettling?

Geelong have performed 2493 VFL/AFL video games throughout 125 seasons, and solely a kind of matches has been performed in Tasmania. The Cats’ solitary expertise on the Apple Isle got here again in 2007 after they misplaced to Hawthorn by 4 factors in Launceston, in order that they’ve by no means performed a premiership sport in Hobart both, which is the place they’ll be travelling to this weekend. So will that issue have any vital bearing on this David v Goliath contest? You wouldn’t assume so given how extremely skilled {and professional} the Geelong line-up is, particularly given eight of their gamers from final week’s chosen staff have performed 43 video games between them in Tasmania – 32 of which attributed to former Hawk Isaac Smith. However as monotonously dependable as Geelong have change into because the season has worn on, they wouldn’t need to take this contest flippantly. North Melbourne could be on the underside of the ladder, however 10 of the 18 premiership factors they’ve picked up this yr have come on the opposite aspect of Bass Strait. Wins in opposition to Hawthorn and Gold Coast, in addition to a draw in opposition to GWS (to not point out gallant showings in opposition to top-four contenders Brisbane and Melbourne), would have David Noble’s aspect heading into this conflict with a level of confidence.

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: Geelong 15-0

Geelong injured however nonetheless preventing | 02:20

GOLD COAST SUNS v MELBOURNE

Saturday July 31, 3:10pm at TBC

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 503 from 3:00m with Kelli Underwood internet hosting the decision with Leigh Montagna, David King, Dermott Brereton, Alastair Lynch and Tom Morris

Suns’ burning query: Has Stuart Dew made the appropriate transfer dropping Izak Rankine?

On kind, you possibly can’t blame the Suns coach for swinging the axe on Rankine, however the 21-year-old’s confidence already appeared shot and totally different gamers reply to being dropped in numerous methods. We noticed Brett Ratten on the Saints stick by Brad Hill and Max King advert nauseam regardless of their kind and confidence slumps respectively and it appears to be like to have paid off in spades. Dew says the transfer on Rankine has been made to assist him regather his confidence, however regardless it’s a large choice name by the senior coach contemplating the Suns’ latest horror reveals in attempting to retain younger and established skills. We could get to see Rankine again within the aspect earlier than yr’s finish and that can show the final word indicator of whether or not Dew’s determination was justified. It appears to be like to be one other key second of judgment for Dew in addition to Rankine.

Demons’ burning query: Can they do what the Lions did and climate the storm?

Just like the Lions, Melbourne’s latest form-line has not been too flash after an awesome opening half of the yr. For the Lions, issues appeared like they had been about to sink to a brand new low at half-time in opposition to the Gold Coast Suns, however a second-half surge saved them from the highlight and probably gave them one thing to go on with within the last month of the season. It’s looming as a really related equation for the Dees – one win within the final month has obtained them missing cohesion and confidence and a strong efficiency and win in opposition to the Suns could possibly be important to how they hit this again stretch of the season heading into finals. With the Suns coughing up so many targets final week too, it’s an opportunity for certainly one of Melbourne’s key forwards to stamp their claims on a spot within the senior aspect, with that a part of the bottom remaining an enigma for Simon Goodwin.

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: Melbourne 15-0

Izak Rankine has been dropped from the Suns’ AFL aspect (Photograph by Chris Hyde/AFL Photographs/by way of Getty Pictures).Supply: Getty Pictures

COLLINGWOOD v WEST COAST EAGLES

Saturday July 31, 4:15pm on the MCG

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 4:0pm with Anthony Hudson internet hosting the decision with Jason Dunstall, Garry Lyon, Cameron Mooney and Tom Morris.

Magpies’ burning query: Are the Pendlebury-less Pies wood spoon certain?

In a season the place Collingwood have fallen from grace to at present occupy sixteenth place within the ladder, dropping skipper Scott Pendlebury might see them utterly collapse. After struggling a fractured leg in opposition to Port Adelaide, the veteran midfielder will be part of Darcy Moore in lacking the rest of the marketing campaign forward of a troublesome last 4 rounds for the black and white the place they face the Eagles, Hawks, Lions and Bombers. North Melbourne nice David King raised on First Crack that Collingwood might declare the AFL’s most undesirable title if the wheels fall off on the run residence: “There’s a excessive chance that Collingwood are proper now within the dialog for the wood spoon. Let’s say that Hawthorn and North Melbourne win these video games (in opposition to the Magpies and Crows respectively), that’ll give the Pies the spoon.”

Eagles’ burning query: Can the Eagles treatment their poor interstate file in time for finals?

After three horrible losses in a row which threatened to derail their finals aspirations, West Coast have managed to cease the bleeding in latest weeks with victories over Adelaide and St Kilda. And whereas these outcomes have in all probability assured the Eagles a spot in one other finals collection, they had been hardly convincing, particularly final week because the Saints stored coming at them earlier than ultimately succumbing by eight factors. And they’re now confronted with certainly one of their least favorite duties, travelling interstate. A far cry from the aspect that swept all earlier than them in 2018, the 2021 model of West Coast have an abnormal 2-4 file on the highway in opposition to groups with reputable residence floor benefit. Collingwood on the MCG must be a fait accompli for a top-eight aspect like West Coast, however we’ve seen on numerous events this yr, that it’s not at all times that easy. With all of their finals more likely to be performed exterior of WA (Covid restrictions allowing), that they had higher get used to life on the highway if they provide themselves any probability of a shock premiership this yr. A win over the Magpies would function a obligatory and essential place to begin in that quest.

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: West Coast 12-3

Collingwood captain duties handed to Sid | 00:48

ESSENDON v SYDNEY SWANS

Saturday July 31, 7:40pm on the Gabba

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 7:30pm with the Saturday Countdown staff of Kath Loughnan, Brad Johnson, Jordan Lewis and Tom Morris.

Bombers’ burning query: Are the Bombers ‘prepared’ for finals in the event that they make it?

It was fascinating to listen to Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd say this week he didn’t assume his former aspect was prepared for finals in 2021 and wouldn’t be too upset in the event that they missed the highest eight. The actual fact finals is even within the equation for the Bombers is unimaginable, however does he have a degree? This week’s sport will show a key take a look at for that idea. If the Bombers can knock off the Swans, who’re on a superb run of kind in the intervening time, then why shouldn’t they again themselves to do the identical if these two sides meet in September? In any case, this week’s sport is one more alternative to see how these child Bombers embrace the problem earlier than them.

Swans’ burning query: How ruthless is that this aspect?

Previously month, we’ve seen the Swans annihilate the Eagles in Geelong, beat the Canine at Marvel Stadium, storm excessive of GWS and final week do the very same to Fremantle. With the Bombers, Saints, Roos and Suns to return, there’s a real top-four berth up for grabs in the event that they’re in a position to win all of them. In a premiership race as tight as this, proportion might show important and the Swans stay a good bit behind the 5 groups above them, maybe excluding Port Adelaide. Successful and profitable properly is a should for John Longmire’s aspect if it’s to safe the double probability. That killer edge so most of the nice trendy groups possess will should be current within the Swans in the event that they’re to launch up the ladder. This week’s sport in opposition to a aspect it typically goes mighty shut with might be an ideal take a look at as we flip for residence.

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: Sydney 14-1

HAWTHORN v BRISBANE LIONS

Sunday August 1, 2:10pm at UTAS Stadium

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 2:00pm hosted by Dwayne Russell with Dermott Brereton, David King, Nick Dal Santo, Sarah Jones and Jon Ralph.

Hawks’ burning query: Which model turns up this week?

The Hawks are like a field of sweets in the intervening time – you by no means know what you’re going to get. A draw in opposition to the Dees was preceded by a thumping by the hands of the Dockers, whereas final week they had been proper in rivalry in opposition to Adelaide earlier than the Crows pulled away late. They’re enjoying in opposition to a aspect this week that has been equally up and down in latest occasions. There’s actually no scarcity of intrigue across the Hawks’ teaching handover, however there are some good indicators on the sphere regardless of the actual fact they’re heading in the direction of the wood spoon on present kind. Tom Mitchell is placing collectively a very good run of kind, James Worpel appears to be like to be regaining among the confidence he has lacked since profitable the most effective and fairest and Lachie Bramble appears to be like an awesome discover. These final 4 weeks are certainly going to present us a extra constant understanding of the place this aspect is definitely at moderately than the sporadic physique of labor we’ve gotten within the final month.

Lions’ burning query: What can we anticipate from Nakia Cockatoo?

He was an unactivated medical sub final week, so he’s getting nearer and nearer to his senior return. It begs the query – what’s an affordable expectation for the 24-year-old? He has had a nightmarish stretch of damage troubles since his final AFL match in 2018 for the Cats, however his means is undisputed. A game-breaking expertise who went with the tenth choose within the 2014 draft, Cockatoo’s attacking capabilities can be phenomenal when combining with inventive varieties like skipper Dayne Zorko by way of the center and up ahead. No matter what number of minutes he performs, it will likely be fascinating to see how he compliments the Lions aspect. Lions followers and footy followers basically will certainly be crossing all the things that he will get by way of unscathed.

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: Brisbane 15-0

GWS GIANTS v PORT ADELAIDE

Sunday August 1, 3:10pm at Metricon Stadium

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 503 from 3:00pm hosted by Anthony Hudson with Gerard Healy, Leigh Montagna, Alastair Lynch and Jon Ralph.

Giants’ burning query: Can Toby Greene be again at his greatest right away?

The Giants’ stand-in skipper was hours away from taking over the Swans a fortnight in the past earlier than he and a number of other gamers had been pressured to isolate after being at a Covid publicity website. Greene is not any stranger to layoffs, be it by way of damage or suspension, however he’ll want to return again in and be at his greatest if the Giants are to topple Port Adelaide and additional solidify their spot within the high eight. Coach Leon Cameron admitted this week Greene will “be a bit rusty at occasions” and it poses a wider query when contemplating how different star gamers (Rowan Marshall and Callum Mills to call two) will carry out after having their routine disrupted within the final fortnight.

Energy’s burning query: Is all of it beginning to come collectively for the Energy?

It’s straightforward to neglect Orazio Fantasia was main the Energy’s goalkicking (19 from 10 video games) earlier than his knee damage, however the livewire ahead was dominating and will show an enormous inclusion simply in time for finals. Final week, the Energy introduced again all three of their younger draft haul in Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Xavier Dursmaa. Robbie Grey is edging nearer to a return whereas Steven Motlop will resume working this week. All six of these gamers supply the Energy the dynamic attacking edge they’ve appeared to so desperately need for within the center stretch of the season as their kind wilted. If Ken Hinkley can handle to get all these names again on the park in time, is it time to start out believing once more in Port Adelaide’s premiership credentials? A win in opposition to the Giants can be an enormous begin, whereas a Spherical 23 sport in opposition to the Western Bulldogs will show the final word finals litmus take a look at.

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: Port Adelaide 9-6

Toby Greene returns for the Giants this week (Photograph by Jono Searle/AFL Photographs/by way of Getty Pictures).Supply: Getty Pictures

FREMANTLE v RICHMOND

Sunday August 1, 5:10pm at Optus Stadium

watch on Fox Footy: Channel 503 from 5:00pm hosted by Eddie McGuire and Adam Papalia with Jordan Lewis, Brad Johnson, Matthew Pavlich and Jon Ralph, adopted by Bounce hosted by Jason Dunstall with Andrew Gaze, Cameron Mooney and Ben Dixon, adopted by First Crack.

Dockers’ burning query: Can they lastly present one thing in opposition to a staff above them?

Who has Fremantle crushed that’s truly been spectacular in 2021? There was a 31-point win in opposition to a GWS aspect in Spherical 2 that was the latter’s worst efficiency of the yr and a two-point win over the Sydney Swans at Optus Stadium in Spherical 10, which the Swans greater than atoned for with their 40-point belting of the Dockers final week in Spherical 19. Barring that, the Dockers haven’t crushed a high eight aspect, going 2-7 in opposition to these sides (2-8 should you depend the ninth-placed Bombers). After the Tigers, the Dockers face the Lions, Eagles and Saints. They’d be fortunate to go 2-2 from that stretch, however they should do significantly better than that in the event that they’re to by some means make the finals. Whereas the Tigers aren’t at present within the high eight, they’re a spot above the Dockers on the ladder by proportion and a Fremantle win can be appreciable given the platform it might set for a late-season surge. Even when it’s simply one thing to take into subsequent season, the Dockers want to point out one thing on Sunday.

Tigers’ burning query: Does a win make them favourites to complete in eighth spot?

The one factor going Richmond’s approach in the intervening time is the membership’s draw, going through no aspect above eighth within the last 4 video games. The Tigers will enter favourites in opposition to Fremantle, however the win is way from a positive factor given their 1-5 file from the previous six video games, together with a thumping by the hands of Geelong final week. There aren’t many stronger confidence boosts than wins on the highway, notably in Perth after spending every week in quarantine. Damien Hardwick has stated in latest weeks the aspect is simply missing confidence – profitable on Sunday would certainly be the final word tonic for that and it might properly spur them on to the finals. It’s stated rather a lot in footy, however this week’s sport is the real make-or-break second for the dynasty aspect.

Fox Footy specialists’ verdict: Richmond 12-3

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