Nick Riewoldt of the Saints returns this weekend.
Nick Riewoldt of the Saints returns this weekend. TRACEY NEARMY

AFL previews for round 13



At Etihad Stadium, 7.50pm


Recent record: NM 6 StK 4


Last time: R19 2016: NM 12.13 (85) d StK 8.14 (62) at Docklands


THE Saints (5-6) are in free fall, slipping six positions after losing three games in a row to Sydney, the Bulldogs and Adelaide by 50, 40 and 57 points. They now face the prospect of dropping another three rungs, down to 15th. North (4-7) is hardly flying but hasn't been beaten by the Saints since 2011, having won their past six clashes. The Saints at least have the return of Nick Riewoldt (knee) to look forward to, to try and kickstart a stalled attack that has booted 24 goals in those past three defeats. He'll come in for Patty McCartin (knee). The Roos' grunt around the ball could be the difference, Ben Cunnington a key, having been the top contested disposal-getter in the teams' past five encounters.



At the MCG, 1.45pm


Recent record: Syd Rich 6


Last time: R23 2016: Syd 25.14 (164) d Rich 7.9 (51) at the SCG


DESPITE Sydney's success over the past five years, Richmond has been somewhat of a bogey side - well, barring that 113-point final-round win by the Swans last season. The Tigers have actually won five of the past eight clashes and now sit 11 spots higher on the ladder (fourth at 7-4), with the Swans 15th (4-7). Richmond won't take Sydney lightly, however, after the Swans showed some of their best when crushing the Dogs last week for their fourth win in five matches. And Lance Franklin is always a danger - brilliant against the premiers (kicking 3.5) and outstanding against the Tigers last season when kicking bags of seven and five goals. He's certainly had the wood on All-Australian fullback Alex Rance of late.


Dayne Zorko of the Lions.
Dayne Zorko of the Lions. JULIAN SMITH


At the Adelaide Oval 4.35pm


Recent record: PA 5 BL 5


Last time: R6 2017: PA 22.18 (150) d BL 10.7 (67) at the Gabba


THE Power (6-5) is back at home after its absolute smacking by Essendon in Melbourne, the first real blemish on an otherwise impressive first half of the season. The Lions (2-9), on the other hand, will be full of confidence after crushing Freo. But while the visitors will be up for the fight, the odds are stacked against them. The Power has won five of their past six encounters, and the Lions are 0-4 from visits to the Adelaide Oval, suffering defeats by 113, 87, 77 and 138 points, while averaging a paltry 47 points to their opponents' 130. Tom Rockliff, Dayne Zorko and Dayne Beams are as good as any midfield trio getting around, but the Power's attack, headed by Charlie Dixon and Robbie Gray, who each kicked four goals last time, will have too much firepower.


At Metricon Stadium, 7.25pm


Recent record: GC 3 Carl 4


Last time: R4 2017: GC 17.6 (108) d Carl 12.10 (82) at Docklands


CARLTON (4-7) heads to Carrara on a high after knocking off the then ladder-leading GWS. The Suns (5-6) look in the sort of touch to bring the young Blues back down to earth, however, after knocking off West Coast and Hawthorn (at the MCG). They've already beaten the Blues once this season, when Tom Lynch stood tall with seven goals and 12 marks, and Gary Ablett collected 34 disposals. Lynch looms large again, with the resurrected Liam Jones possibly given the task this time after the Suns spearhead proved too good for Jacob Weitering and Caleb Marchbank in round four. Touk Miller (illness) should also return to help Ablett, David Swallow and Jarryd Lyons in their midfield battle with Marc Murphy and co.



Clayton Oliver of the Demons.
Clayton Oliver of the Demons. JULIAN SMITH


At Etihad Stadium, 3.20pm


Recent record: WB 8 Melb 2


Last time: R8 2016: WB 17.12 (114) d Melb 12.10 (82) at the MCG


MELBOURNE (6-5) can entrench itself in the top eight - not a line we've probably heard in the past decade - after its stirring wins over the Gold Coast and Collingwood (after being five goals down in both games). They are young and hungry - just like the Doggies were last season. Whether the premiers (also 6-5) get that attack back remains to be seen but there would be no better chance than against the rising Dees. The Dogs have lost three of their past four games, and have some real issues in their forward half. Only Freo has kicked so few points in the past five weeks, Travis Cloke hardly helping, going goalless against the Swans last week. Marcus Bontempelli was the man last time, collecting 33 touches and three Brownlow votes, but the likes of Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney look too ferocious around the ball.


Byes: Adelaide, Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, GWS, Hawthorn

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