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Aussie Rules: Top trio look to close the gap

There are four games to look forward to on a busy Saturday in the AFL with top-eight sides Fremantle, Collingwood and Richmond all in action.

Round 17 of the competition got underway with Geelong leapfrogging over Melbourne into pole position on the ladder with a 28-point win over the reigning premiers and it could not be much tighter at the top.

Fremantle will be looking to join the Cats and Demons on 48 points by beating a St Kilda side that needs the points to boost their top-eight hopes.

Collingwood are flying and will be out to keep the good times rolling against a struggling North Melbourne side, while Richmond can cement their place in finals with a win at the Gold Coast.

Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney also go head-to-head with the home side out to keep their faint finals hopes alive.

It is a day that could provide plenty of excitement so let’s take a closer look at each game.

What: Collingwood v North Melbourne
Where: MCG, Melbourne
When: 13:45 (AEST) Saturday 9th July 2022
How to Watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Collingwood 1/25, North Melbourne 10/1

Collingwood have won six on the bounce to climb to sixth place on the ladder and can get closer to the top four with another win over the struggling Kangaroos.

They have been rocked by the news that Darcy Moore is facing a spell out through injury, while midfielder Jordan De Goey is also in the treatment room and will miss the game.

There is some good news though as Jeremy Howe is ready to return and Josh Carmichael is called into the squad for the first time.

North Melbourne are having a season to forget and have just the one win to their name this season. They were given another hiding against Geelong last weekend and have conceded over 100 points in all but three games this season.

Mass changes have been made for the Magpies clash with Aiden Bonar, Bailey Scott, Callum Coleman-Jones, Flynn Perez and Jack Ziebell all included.

What: Gold Coast Suns v Richmond
Where: Metricon Stadium, Queensland
When: 16:35 (AEST) Saturday 9th July 2022
How to Watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Gold Coast 91/100, Richmond 91/100

The Gold Coast sit two wins behind the top eight and need to come with a late charge if they are to make finals. They have lost the last two games against Port Adelaide and Collingwood but only by the narrowest of margins.

Five of their seven wins this season have been at Metricon and they will be out for number six against the Tigers.

They have been hit by the news that both Oleg Markov and Izak Rankine are out due to health and safety protocol, while Connor Budarick is injured.

Richmond have won three out of the last four to move to seventh spot on the ladder. There is still work to do though to secure a place in the eight.

The Tigers have selection issues going into the game as star players Dustin Martin, Kane Lambert, Nick Vlastuin and Josh Gibcus are all missing. Dion Prestia does return though.

What: St Kilda v Fremantle
Where: Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
When: 19:25 (AEST) Saturday 9th July 2022
How to Watch: 7mate, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: St Kilda 91/100, Fremantle 91/100

St Kilda gave their finals hopes a huge shot in the arm when they pulled off a shock win over Sydney last week.

It was just what they needed after a poor run of form that saw them slide down the ladder and out of the eight. They could return there with a win if other results also go their way.

Dougal Howard and Hunter Clark are both ruled out through injury with coach Brett Ratten bringing Darragh Joyce back into the fold.

Freo are in fourth spot on the ladder but can go joint top with Geelong and Melbourne with a win on Saturday. They did slip up away at Carlton two weekends ago and this will be another big test on the road.

However they have shown what they can do when beating Melbourne at the MCG this season. Bailey Banfield is the only omission and coach Justin Longmuir will be able to put out his strongest side.

What: Port Adelaide v Greater Western Sydney
Where: Adelaide Oval, South Australia
When: 19:30 (AEST) Saturday 9th July 2022
How to Watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Port Adelaide 2/5, GWS 2/1

Port Adelaide are another team who need to get on a run as they sit 12th on the ladder and eight points away from the top eight.

They should have won at the death against Fremantle last week but can take heart from that strong performance in the west.

Lachie Jones and Trent McKenzie are missing through injury and illness respectively, but Tom Clurey and Zak Butters come in.

GWS are one spot below Port, but eight points separate them so the Giants are now playing for pride. They picked up a rare win against Hawthorn last week so will take plenty of heart from that.

Connor Idun is ruled out but James Peatling and Lachlan Keeffe come back in.

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