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The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 17

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Editor
11th July, 2019
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With the finals plot twisting each and every week, tipping in the AFL just isn’t get any easier in 2019.

Collingwood, GWS and Adelaide are all on the way down, while Essendon, North Melbourne and the Bulldogs are on the way up. Fremantle have fallen off a cliff, Brisbane might be a genuine flag fancy and Richmond are who we thought they were.

All of those important lessons were taught to us last week, but you can bet Round 17 will throw just about all of them out the window.

It was ordinary scores across the board for our expert panel, with myself, Marnie Cohen, Daniel Jeffrey and you, the Crowd, all putting up just five. Panel leader AdelaideDocker, however, only managed four, seeing his lead amongst the experts shrink to just two points.

With some more fifty-fifty propositions on offer this weekend, we could see the battle for first take another turn.

Stirling Coates
West Coast, Sydney, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond, Bulldogs, Brisbane

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It’s a grand final rematch to get us underway this evening, although it’s hard to see this one being as competitive as last September’s all-time classic. Collingwood have hit the wall after a very extended run of shaky form.

You could argue that, since ANZAC Day, the only performances the Pies would be satisfied with would be their wins over Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Melbourne.

I’m skipping ahead to the virtual elimination final on Saturday between Essendon and North Melbourne; it’s shaping up to be a ripper. Both clubs have turned it around in a big way after poor starts to the season and, with sides above them faltering, it’s looking increasingly likely one of them will be rewarded with a surprise September appearance.

That said, the Kangaroos have just looked that little bit better over the stretch, claiming some bigger scalps in that time. Going up against Todd Goldstein without your best ruckman seems like a reasonably steep hill to climb, especially when your replacement gets towelled up by an out-of-position Aliir Aliir the week prior. Roos in a classic.

Earlier, Sydney against Carlton at the SCG should be a lot more interesting than people are giving it credit for. The Blues have a scarcely believable record in the Harbour City, winning just one of the 22 matches they’ve played there since 1994. They’ve pushed the Swans a bit in recent times, however and, although I can’t see them taking the four points, I think it could easily be a two-kick game.

On the topic of scarcely believable records, Fremantle will be looking to crack a horror Tassie hoodoo against Hawthorn in Launceston. To this day, Freo’s only win on the Apple Isle came courtesy of AFL intervention post-Sirengate in 2006. They’ve only played across the Bass Strait five times since, for five losses at an average margin of 65 points.

In their current funk, I can’t see that spell being broken.

Saturday night throws up two reasonably straightforward matches. Gold Coast versus Adelaide and Collingwood versus University are the only fixtures in VFL/AFL history where one side has failed to knock off the other, although the Students did salvage some points after Martin Ratz’s bag of two saw them snare a memorable 39-all draw in 1909. Hard replay to find that one.

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There is a voice in my head telling me to pick the Suns, but I’m ignoring it. Nobody is telling me to pick the Saints over Geelong and I’m happy to oblige.

Dan Hannebery

The Saints – minus Dan Hannebery – shouldn’t trouble the Cats. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Sunday serves us up some more interesting matches, thankfully, starting off with Richmond and GWS at the ‘G. The Tigers have got their big names back at the right time and look primed to make a serious tilt at the 2019 flag, albeit from most likely outside the top four.

The Giants welcome back Lachie Whitfield, but the loss of Josh Kelly makes it too hard to see them coming back to Sydney with a win.

The Bulldogs have a very real chance of getting right back into the finals conversation with a juicy three weeks coming up, although they’ve demonstrated a propensity for a shock loss this season and must take Melbourne – who have an excellent recent record at Docklands – very seriously. I think they’ll get there, but this is a huge danger game for the Doggies.

Lastly, we have our match of the round in the hot-and-cold Power taking on the rapidly improving Lions. The forecast of showers on game day has implications for both sides, given both sides do prefer kicking the ball rather than going by hand.

I think the Lions’ game plan is more adaptable in the wet, while their supreme forward pressure should cause headaches for a Power back six who have struggled to fish the ball out of defence all season. Brisbane by 16.

Shoe-In of the Week has to be Geelong taking down St Kilda at home. The Saints haven’t won at Kardinia Park since 1999, although that streak is exacerbated by the fact the Cats played their home games against them in Melbourne between 2005 and 2012.

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Marnie Cohen
West Coast, Sydney, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond, Bulldogs, Brisbane

Wow! There are some big games this weekend and honestly, I don’t think any team is safe. Round 17 is proof that this season is very even and it really is anyone’s game still.

Although, right now, I think it’s West Coast’s to lose.

They have been building nicely all season and are starting to peak at the right time. I assume that an in-form Eagles team at Optus Stadium on Friday night is not Collingwood’s ideal match up after the fortnight they’ve had, but it will certainly be a good test of where they are in relation to the top sides.

It’s a tough ask to travel West and return winners – double difficult if the Magpies put in the similar performances to the ones against North, Hawthorn and even the Dogs. I’m sticking with the home side.

Also sticking with Sydney to win at home. The romance around Carlton’s form has been fun over the previous three weeks, but Sydney are looking too good to refuse. Likewise the Bulldogs, who have found some form in impressive wins over Port Adelaide and Geelong.

Speaking of Geelong, you’d expect the ladder leaders to regain some spark in their game in front of a home crowd. I say they should do that over St Kilda. Adelaide too, to get back on the winners list this weekend.

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Josh Jenkins

Adelaide should rebound against Gold Coast this weekend. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Richmond and the Giants is probably the most interesting game of the round. For the Giants, we know they’re a good side, but they have to be able to come to Melbourne (more specifically, the MCG) and win games if they are any chance at a premiership. For Richmond, it’s their biggest test post-bye.

Yes, they’ve had good wins over St Kilda and the Suns but that needs to translate into wins against better opposition. They’ve got a perfect opportunity to do so this weekend and that’s where my tip is going.

I’m backing in a cracking game between North and Essendon, who are sitting second and fourth (respectively) on the form ladder since round 11. Given it’s a fifty-fifty clash, I’m going for North.

Port Adelaide and Brisbane is a tricky one to round out the weekend. I actually panicked slightly trying to make a decision. I can’t trust Port despite their great Showdown efforts and am tipping the Lions.

Daniel Jeffrey
West Coast, Sydney, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond, Bulldogs, Brisbane

West Coast should start the round off with a win over the Pies. I think this will closer than the form suggests – Collingwood be will desperate to put in a solid showing – but the Eagles are deserved favourites.

Sydney will be ruing letting a close one against the Bombers slip but should handle the improved Blues at home, while Fremantle’s woeful record in Tasmania should continue against the Hawks given the rut they’re in.

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Essendon and North Melbourne’s Saturday afternoon clash has plenty riding on it – the result will have a considerable impact on the make-up of the finals. The Bombers only just snuck past the Swans last week, and the in-form Kangaroos will prove a tougher opponent this round.

Ben Brown

Can North Melbourne keep their strong form up? (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The Cats and Crows are both coming off disappointing losses, but will both rebound with wins this weekend, due as much to their opposition as anything else. Adelaide’s match on the Gold Coast is the start of a cushy run for Don Pyke’s men, while Geelong won’t be troubled by a side as meek as St Kilda.

Sunday gives us three tantalising games which could all go either way. I’ll go with the Tigers to get the job done over GWS. The Giants’ record at the MCG is notoriously poor, and it’s hard to see them improving on it without Matt de Boer and Josh Kelly.

The Bulldogs are one side many – myself included – have been guilty of underestimating recently. Finals will be a tough ask, but they’ve got a good run home and will fancy themselves against the Demons.

We finish up with the match of the round. Brisbane are looking more and more like a genuine top-four side, while Port… I’m actually not sure what to expect from them. They’ve mixed the sublime with the mediocre over the past two months with irritating regularity. Bereft of many other ideas, I’ll just tip their win-loss-win-loss pattern to continue with a defeat at home.

AdelaideDocker
West Coast, Sydney, Hawthorn, Essendon, Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond, Bulldogs, Port Adelaide

Editor’s note: AdelaideDocker is currently in Asia and has been hamstrung by dodgy internet. As such, he has been unable to provide a write-up this week.

There’s a joke to be made here about him fleeing the country in light of Freo’s poor recent form, but I’m not going to make it.

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Round 17 Stirling Marnie Daniel ADocker The Crowd
WCE vs COL WCE WCE WCE WCE WCE
SYD vs CAR SYD SYD SYD SYD SYD
HAW vs FRE HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW
ESS vs NM NM NM NM ESS NM
GCS vs ADE ADE ADE ADE ADE ADE
GEE vs STK GEE GEE GEE GEE GEE
RCH vs GWS RCH RCH RCH RCH RCH
WB vs MEL WB WB WB WB WB
PA vs BL BL BL BL PA PA
Last week 5 5 5 4 5
Total score 82 80 77 84 90