Charlie Curnow in action during Carlton's elimination final win over Sydney in 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

INDIGENOUS people and culture will be celebrated across Sir Doug Nicholls Round at the same time as the competition for top eight spots keeps heating up.

Gold Coast takes on Geelong in Darwin to begin round 10 on Thursday, while Sydney and Carton meet in the Marn Grook match at the SCG the following night.

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A resurgent Collingwood and improving Kuwarna will renew acquaintances on Saturday after a pair of nailbiters last year, followed by a clash between bitter rivals Greater Western Sydney and Western Bulldogs.

Here is who and what to look out for across round 10, including a tip for each match.

Gold Coast v Geelong, TIO Stadium
Thursday, May 16, 7pm ACST

Last time: Gold Coast 10.13 (73) d Geelong 7.12 (54), R3 2023

What it means

Gold Coast (5-4) continued its streak of winning every match as the host this season when thumping North Melbourne in Darwin last week. The Suns have now won their past five at TIO Stadium but will face a tougher challenge to claim a big scalp against a Cats outfit looking to bounce back from two narrow losses in a row.

Lloyd Johnston celebrates a goal during the R9 match between Gold Coast and North Melbourne at TIO Stadium on May 11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong (7-2) has fallen back into the pack of top-four contenders after consecutive defeats that most recently included a rare loss on home soil to Yartapuulti. The Cats were blown away early and conceded 50 points in the opening term – their most in the first quarter at GMHBA Stadium since 1983 – and will be wary of making a similar start in what are often greasy conditions in Darwin.


Bailey Humphrey has shown plenty of promise in 26 matches since being drafted with pick No.6 in the 2022 draft. But the 19-year-old produced his best quarter at the level when subbed in for the final term last week, gathering a stunning 12 disposals, six clearances, five tackles and 405m gained, to press his claims for more midfield time.

Tom Stewart has been kept in check in the Cats' pair of defeats over the past fortnight and was even shifted away from his intercepting role in defence to find a way into the game against the Power. Stewart was less damaging playing on a wing but can be expected to return to his more familiar role and bounce back against the Suns.

Early tip: Geelong by 11 points


Sydney v Carlton, SCG
Friday, May 17, 7.40pm AEST

Last time: Carlton 11.8 (74) d Sydney 9.14 (68), EF 2023

What it means

Sydney (8-1) has won five matches in a row to be a game clear on the top of the ladder and can now put distance between itself and the chasing pack. The Swans have been particularly impressive against other top-four contenders in victories over the Giants, Pies and Demons, and would rubberstamp their status as the benchmark with a triumph over the Blues.

Carlton (6-3) held off the fast-finishing Narrm last week in much the same way that it withstood a late challenge from Sydney in their elimination final last year. That finals triumph was the Blues' first since 2013 but they will have to brush off a longer running hoodoo this week at the SCG after only winning twice in 18 matches at the venue stretching back to 1993.


Dane Rampe has hardly skipped a beat since returning from a hamstring injury, gathering 24 disposals against the Giants then marshalling the defence until rested late in the win over the Dockers. The former co-captain can expect to have a different sort of role against the Blues as the Swans look to limit the impact of twin towers Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay.

Dane Rampe after Sydney's win over Collingwood in R1, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Blake Acres has become a set and forget for the Blues since crossing over from the Dockers ahead of last season. The tireless two-way runner has shown in recent weeks that he can win plenty of the ball or play a lockdown role, and can expect to do more of the latter while the Blues aim to slow the Swans' rapid transitions from defence to attack.

Early tip: Sydney by four points


Collingwood v Kuwarna, MCG
Saturday, May 18, 1.45pm AEST

Last time: Collingwood 12.10 (82) d Kuwarna 11.14 (80), R15 2023

What it means

Collingwood (5-3-1) did what it needed to do against Waalitj Marawar to secure its biggest win so far and move into the top eight for the first time this season. But the Magpies' injury concerns are mounting up and they will hope to get through the clash with the Crows unscathed while also building on their increasingly ominous return to form.

Kuwarna (3-5-1) has little margin for error after starting the season with four consecutive defeats and could be left to rue Jordan Dawson's last-gasp shot that sailed wide for a behind in the draw with Brisbane. The Crows know all too well the price that can be paid for wayward kicking after booting 7.16 and 11.14 in a pair of narrow defeats to the Pies last year, that at least showed they can compete with the eventual premier.

Jordan Dawson in action during Kuwarna's clash against Brisbane in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos


Steele Sidebottom turned back the clock with his run and dare against the Eagles but unusually started much of it from half-back. The 317-game veteran looked revitalised playing with the back six in a role that could become crucial to the Magpies continuing their resurgence at least until more defensive reinforcements arrive.

After a slow start to the season, Jordan Dawson has well and truly rediscovered his touch and become much more threatening in the forward half. The Crows skipper might have missed the crucial shot on goal in the dying stages against the Lions, but he had already willed his side to stay in the contest and received all 10 votes from the coaches.

Early tip: Collingwood by 17 points


Greater Western Sydney v Western Bulldogs, Engie Stadium
Saturday, May 18, 4.35pm AEST

Last time: Greater Western Sydney 11.12 (78) d Western Bulldogs 10.13 (73), R20 2023 

What it means

GWS (6-3) will return to its home deck for the first time since round one with its tail between its legs after giving up a promising start when suffering three defeats in the past four matches. The Giants snapped a four-match losing streak against their old rivals in a thriller last year but might be more concerned with their own performances of late as the 'Orange tsunami' has started to dry up.

Toby Greene looks dejected after Greater Western Sydney's loss to Essendon in round nine, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

The Western Bulldogs (4-5) bounced back from four defeats in five matches with a crushing victory over an injury-ravaged Richmond but now need to underpin their return to form against a more settled opponent. The Bulldogs can take extra motivation from putting a dent in their rivals' finals hopes, while boosting their own chances ahead of tough tests against the Swans, Pies and Lions.


Jesse Hogan has endured more highs and lows than most on his way to 150 matches but finally appears to be at the top of his game. The Giants spearhead has booted at least one goal in every match this season, and is sitting second in the race for the Coleman Medal with 26 majors, as his threat near goal continues to grow.

The Bulldogs are reaping the rewards of handing Taylor Duryea a lifeline late last year as the veteran remains a consistent performer now set to reach 200 matches. The 33-year-old can add run and carry out of defence but against the Giants is likely to spend just as much time minding members of their mosquito fleet looking to add some bite after a quiet week.

Early tip: Greater Western Sydney by 22 points


Euro-Yroke v Walyalup, Marvel Stadium
Saturday, May 18, 7.30pm AEST

Last time: Euro-Yroke 10.7 (67) d Walyalup 7.10 (52), R1 2023

What it means

Euro-Yroke (3-6) has its season hanging by a thread after a run of four defeats in five matches including a surprise loss to Hawthorn last week. The Saints' only victory in that time came against the Kangaroos, when they scored more than 80 points for the first and only time so far this season, while they are otherwise yet to find enough fluency in attack.

Walyalup (5-4) can be forgiven for being below its best following the passing of former Dockers forward Cam McCarthy last week, even while putting on a brave showing against Sydney. The Dockers in part paid the price for wayward kicking for goal, finishing with 4.15, but will hope to be more polished at a venue where they have four wins and a draw in eight matches since the start of 2022.


Rowan Marshall almost got the Saints over the line against the Hawks last week with a monster performance that included 28 disposals, 12 clearances, 11 tackles as well as 35 hitouts. The ruck could become even more damaging by spending additional time forward after only booting two goals this season even as the Saints are often struggling to score.

Lloyd Meek and Rowan Marshall compete in a ruck contest during the match between Hawthorn and St Kilda at University of Tasmania Stadium in round nine, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Michael Frederick often threatens to blow a game apart but has only seven goals but as many matches this season and was subbed out in the defeat to the Swans. Frederick could do with being handed more time away from the forward 50 to find a way into the action and even help the Dockers match the pacy Saints.

Early tip: Euro-Yroke by eight points


Brisbane v Richmond, Gabba
Saturday, May 18, 7.30pm AEST

Last time: Brisbane 20.14 (134) d Richmond 7.11 (53), R16 2023

What it means

Brisbane (3-5-1) almost pulled off a rousing victory on the road that might have reignited its season but could only finish level with Kuwarna last week. The injury-hit Lions are still waiting for reinforcements to arrive but in the meantime will hope to brush aside the struggling Tigers and stay in touch with the top eight, especially with the Hawks, Bulldogs and Saints to follow.

Richmond (1-8) is now firmly in the middle of an injury crisis that is making its results difficult to judge. The Tigers have now lost five on the trot with the margins increasing every week in that time, but have reason to hope for a tighter contest against the similarly undermanned Lions.



Josh Dunkley has been a blessing for the Lions this season, lining up in every match and delivering consistent performances even as the side have had to face up to form and fitness concerns. The midfielder will play his 150th match this week, after starting with 116 games at the Dogs, and might appreciate more licence to roam against the wounded Tigers.

Daniel Rioli's importance to the Tigers has continued to grow this season as his experience and polish in defence becomes ever more crucial. The three-time premiership player has even kept taking the game on and looking to create with the second most bounces in the competition as well as 20.8 disposals and 4.9 rebound 50s per match.

Early tip: Brisbane by 33 points


Essendon v North Melbourne, Marvel Stadium
Sunday, May 19, 1.10pm AEST

Last time: Essendon 13.8 (86) d North Melbourne 12.5 (77), R22 2023

What it means

Essendon (6-2-1) made a statement with a victory over Greater Western Sydney that propelled it up to third on the ladder despite having a percentage of only 98.3. The Bombers can now look to significantly boost that percentage against a struggling Kangaroos outfit that they have beaten in their past 10 meetings going back to 2017.

North Melbourne (0-9) is drifting further away from a breakthrough win this season as the heavy defeats keep mounting up. The Roos gave the Bombers a huge scare late last season but might firstly aim to win at least a quarter, after failing to do so in their past two matches, before testing their old rivals again.


Todd Goldstein keeps churning out the vintage performances even as the 35-year-old ruck lines up in red and black colours this year. The veteran will come up against his former side for the first time this week with a point to prove in an intriguing battle with Roos ruck Tristan Xerri.

Todd Goldstein in action during Essendon's clash against Greater Western Sydney in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Zac Fisher was taking time to repay the faith shown in him by the Kangaroos until taking huge strides in the past couple of weeks. The 25-year-old gathered 30 disposals against the Saints, then had 24 at the main change against the Suns last week before finishing with 34 as he starts to settle into the Roos' defence.

Early tip: Essendon by 27 points


Yartapuulti v Hawthorn, Adelaide Oval
Sunday, May 19, 2.50pm ACST

Last time: Yartapuulti 23.13 (151) d Hawthorn 14.12 (96), R12 2023

What it means

Yartapuulti (6-3) might have snapped its GMHBA Stadium hoodoo against Geelong but now needs to ensure it doesn't let its guard down against the increasingly dangerous Hawthorn. The Power have been bouncing between wins and losses over the past month but could consolidate their top-eight spot against the Hawks, especially with the Kangaroos to come.

Hawthorn (3-6) has turned its season around with three wins from its past four matches but is yet to claim a top-eight scalp like Yartapuulti presents. The Hawks have built their impressive return to form on increased pressure and intensity, while benefiting from having multiple options in the forward half even without a standout tall target.


Willie Rioli is becoming a key weapon for the Power with a knack for finding space inside the forward 50 or when competing for the ball in the air. The dynamic forward added his usual spark against the Cats to finish with 4.3 and could be set for an even bigger haul if he can tidy up his kicking around goal.


Nick Watson arrived at the Hawks with a reputation as a livewire near goal and an ability to light up a match just as much in the air. The No.5 draft pick had his best game for the Hawks last week with two goals against the Saints, while his 10 disposals led to seven scores as he finds more ways into the game.

Early tip: Yartapuulti by 37 points


Waalitj Marawar v Narrm, Optus Stadium
Sunday, May 19, 4.20pm AWST

Last time: Narrm 19.12 (126) d Waalitj Marawar 9.9 (63), R4 2023

What it means

Waalitj Marawar (2-7) has been more competitive on its home deck with two victories and a narrow defeat to the high-flying Bombers in its past three matches. But the Eagles came crashing back down against the Pies last week, scoring only five goals in a heavy defeat that was a firm reminder that there is still a huge gap between their best and worst.  

Narrm (6-3) gave Carlton too much of a head start last week when it was held scoreless in an opening term for the first time since 2008. But the Demons could entrench themselves in the top four by bouncing back against the Eagles, especially at a venue that comes with fond memories of six wins on the trot including the 2021 Grand Final.

Clayton Oliver and Patrick Cripps compete for the ball during Narrm's clash against Carlton in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos


Jayden Hunt has at times found the going tough since joining the Eagles but will be out to impress against his former club this week. Hunt's pace and versatility will be especially important on the Eagles' home deck where they have improved so much in recent weeks.

Kysaiah Pickett has lifted his threat around goal this season with at least one major in every match for a total of 13 across seven games. But the goalsneak will be out to make amends for the late shot on goal against the Blues that sailed wide as the Demons look to pile on a bigger score against the Eagles.

Early tip: Narrm by 19 points