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The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 23

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21st August, 2019
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Well, here we are. Just over five months since season 2019 began, we’re staring at the very end of another gripping home-and-away campaign.

The finals race has virtually sorted itself out, with the Bulldogs now in the box seat to claim the coveted last spot in the top eight.

But The Roar’s expert panel still can’t be split.

It was a horror week last week, with AdelaideDocker’s five enough to see him top the round and move into equal-first with Marnie Cohen on 120 points.

I’m sitting two points behind them after a horrid three-point effort, while Daniel Jeffrey needs a perfect nine alongside donuts from Marnie and AD to pinch the title.

Stirling Coates
Collingwood, Sydney, North Melbourne, Geelong, GWS Giants, West Coast, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, Fremantle

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Collingwood looked ruthless against the spluttering Crows last Saturday. I didn’t buy much from their wins over Gold Coast and Melbourne (for obvious reasons) and, to be fair, the way Adelaide’s going this one might not mean much too.

But Essendon’s last two months simply has too many asterisks for me to give them the favouritism here. With the Pies in nice enough form and Jaidyn Stephenson to return in finals, watch out for these guys in September.

The Swans seem to have a habit of playing poorly in big milestone games, from memory. But with Kieren Jack and Jarryd McVeigh saying goodbye (as well as Nick Smith and Heath Grundy, who aren’t playing), they should have enough motivation to get over the line.

St Kilda also have a horrible record at the SCG, winning two of their last 14 visits by a combined margin of three points. Fun fact: it’s also Aliir Aliir’s 50th, but he’s been knocked well and truly off the front page.

Lance Franklin Sydney Swans AFL Indigenous Round 2017

Lance Franklin’s 300th is one of a plethora of special occasions at the SCG this Saturday. (AAP Image/David Moir)

North Melbourne should emphatically put Melbourne out of their misery with a big win in Hobart, this one really doesn’t require further explanation.

I do like the idea of David Teague becoming the patron saint of Lygon Street with a famous upset over Geelong, but the Cats have turned the corner over the last fortnight after some post-bye wobbles and should tune up for finals with a comfortable win.

As woeful as GWS have been over the last fortnight – even the last month – surely they can’t succumb to a historically bad Gold Coast side? I don’t reckon we’ve had this year’s ridiculous upset, but I’m not game enough to tip it. Giants by an unconvincing margin.

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With a finals spot very much attainable, Alastair Clarkson’s mob are a very real chance of springing an upset over the Eagles on Saturday night. Given Hawthorn haven’t knocked off West Coast in Perth since ‘that was out of bounds’ in 2015, however, I’ll tip Adam Simpson’s team.

Sunday is where things get really interesting. The Bulldogs are in irresistible form right now and should continue that hot run into September with an easy win Ballarat over the fading Crows. Adelaide have some tough list decisions to make in the offseason and I think this match will serve as a stark reminder of that.

Yes, Brisbane haven’t beaten Richmond in ten years. Yes, they’ve played poorly at the MCG, even this season. But, after all the hoodoos and curses they’ve broken this year, why the hell can’t they break another one?

The Lions have good match-ups for Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt in Marcus Adams and Harris Andrews, respectively, Charlie Cameron has arguably been the best small forward all season and they’ve actually played much better away from The Gabba during their post-bye winning streak.

In the last game of the home-and-away season, I’ll back David Hale to make it four out of four for caretaker coaches in 2019 as Fremantle knock off a Port Adelaide team who, when the game actually begins, will no longer have anything to play for.

The final Shoe-In of the Week for 2019 goes to North Melbourne at fortress Hobart. Ben Brown will kick five as the Kangaroos get over the line comfortably against the Demons.

Marnie Cohen
Collingwood, Sydney, North Melbourne, Geelong, GWS Giants, West Coast, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Port Adelaide

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What do me and Port Adelaide in common? In the week we just need a win, we totally bomb out. I had a shocking tipping week last week, luckily it wasn’t as bad as Port’s weekend.

Surely the Power is turned back on this weekend against Fremantle, despite the fact that they have sacked their coach this week and to this point in the season, all three caretaker coaches have won their first game as top dog.

While it seems unlikely, Port, through some miracle could still make finals and you’d think (you’d hope) they wouldn’t want to blow one last chance – in case they haven’t blown it already.

The Bulldogs are looking more dangerous every week and, despite the fact they aren’t even locked in for finals, plenty of footy fans have them down as the team to watch. I say they’ll cement their spot in the eight with a win over the Crows, who were as disappointing last weekend as their South Australian rivals.

Sunday Afternoon at the MCG is as mouthwatering as it was last weekend, with Richmond and Brisbane set to do battle. It’s hard to tip against a white hot Brisbane Lions outfit at the moment but you just feel, after last week, a loss could be looming.

They will play finals and if they finish top two, will be a serious premiership threat but defeating the Tigers (who are full of confidence at the moment) at the ‘G is a tough ask.

With Dusty back to his brilliant best, Richmond could prove too strong. It’ll be close but I’m going with the yellow and black.

Like the Tigers, Collingwood are building at the right time. Despite an impressive Essendon victory on the weekend, I’d say Collingwood should get over the line. Even without their ballsy midfielder Steele Sidebottom.

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The Giants, Geelong and West Coast should all bounce back in time for finals. West Coast and Geelong lost no admirers despite their losses last weekend and the Giants should bounce back from a horror fortnight against the struggling Suns.

Hopefully Ben Brown will kick another bag against the Dees in Hobart on Saturday and win his first Coleman medal. Would be a nice touch for the only man to kick 60 goals over the past three seasons. He should inspire the Roos to victory and help them finish the year on a high.

And finally, what I believe will be the game of the round; Buddy’s 300th. There has been a lot of ‘will he, won’t he make it before season’s end’ but it’ll be fantastic to see one of the game’s greatest play in front of an adoring SCG crowd. Bud has played his 100th, 200th and will play his 300th game against St Kilda. He should celebrate it in style.

Daniel Jeffrey
Collingwood, Sydney, North Melbourne, Geelong, GWS Giants, West Coast, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Port Adelaide

I’ve been reliably informed that, should I tip a perfect round while everyone else returns a donut, I’ll head into finals top of our tipping leaderboard.

Short of taking the Homer goes to college approach, that’s not going to happen, but we’ll give it a shot anyway.

Collingwood’s form is hard to judge right now, given their last three wins have come against some of the worst sides in the comp. Not that the Bombers are much easier to get a handle on, mind you. If Darcy Moore does return for the Pies, that should tip this one in their favour.

Sydney have a strong record against St Kilda as of late, and with Lance Franklin set to return for his 300th to help see off some of the club’s retiring stars, the Swans should finish the season off with a strong win. Same goes for North Melbourne, who’ll have Ben Brown eyeing off a Coleman Medal-sealing haul against the Demons.

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Geelong will bounce back from last week’s late collapse against the Lions with a home win over the Blues that will lock away a top-two finish, and the Giants, too, will take advantage of their lowly opposition to notch a much-needed victory.

With West Coast needing to win to earn a home qualifying final, expect the Eagles to respond to their loss to Richmond with a win which will end Hawthorn’s finals chances.

Even if the Hawks do get up, it should be elementary in the race for the top eight; so uninspiring have the Crows been in recent weeks that the Bulldogs should seal their spot in September without having to worry about other results (although it would be typical of this season for them to lose and have eighth spot decided on percentage after wins to Hawthorn, Port and Adelaide).

Brisbane’s trip down to the MCG to face Richmond is a tantalising prospect. The Lions have found ways to chase down their opposition during this outstanding late-season run, but beating the Tigers on their home turf might be a stretch too far for Chris Fagan’s men. Richmond in a thriller.

I’ve given up trying to put any reasoning into tipping Port Adelaide. This week I’ve reverted to a coin toss, which has come up in favour of the home side. So I suppose that means the Power are going to end this season with a win.

AdelaideDocker
Collingwood, St Kilda, North Melbourne, Geelong, GWS Giants, West Coast, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Port Adelaide

Here we are; the final round. It’s gonna be a good one.

We begin with traditional rivals Collingwood and Essendon facing off at the ‘G. The Bombers managed to secure a finals berth with a big win over Freo last week, while Collingwood demolished Adelaide on the same day.

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The Pies have played well against the Dons in recent times, and I reckon they’ll continue to do so.

Saturday’s first two games will see four teams finish their 2019 seasons, beginning with the Swans and Saints. With Sydney waving goodbye to Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack, while also celebrating Lance Franklin’s 300th, they’ll have a heap of motivation to perform well at home.

The Saints will be frustrated with last week’s loss to Carlton and, with Brett Ratten still fighting for a chance at the permanent job, they’ll certainly show up to fight. I’ll be a little risky and back the Saints to upset here.

North and Melbourne will also close off their seasons with a clash in Tasmania. The Roos should win this by plenty if their form last week is anything to go by (and not Round 21’s form).

Saturday night’s West Coast and Hawthorn clash should be a good one; West Coast trying to secure a top four spot, Hawthorn hoping for a miracle to jump into finals. With Jarryd Roughead opting not to travel to Perth, the Hawks won’t have any sentimentality in the game – only pure desire to create that miracle. You’d think the Eagles will be too strong at home though.

Sunday’s chock-a-block full of intriguing matches. The Bulldogs simply need to win their clash against Adelaide to secure a finals berth and, barring an improbable return to form for the Crows, they’ll win in front of a sold-out Ballarat crowd.

Port will host a Freo side coming off a highly controversial week. With Ross no longer the Boss, the Dockers may receive a coach-sacking bounce, but Freo’s horror Adelaide Oval record makes me nervous, and I’m not gonna tip ‘em.

The weekend’s best game? Richmond hosting first-placed Brisbane. Brisbane’s against a lot of odds in this one; including a very poor recent record against the Tigers. Richmond need to win – and hope Essendon win two days earlier – to confirm a top four spot, so expect them to be at their feisty best.

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The Lions were superb in overcoming Geelong, but the Tigers in Melbourne is a much tougher challenge, and I’m not confident enough to tip them to conquer it.

Geelong should also comfortably beat the Blues, especially at home. Although, there’s real potential for this one to become 2019’s funniest upset if the Cats aren’t careful.

There’s really only one properly easy game to tip this week; expect the Giants to come back with a vengeance against wooden-spooners-to-be Gold Coast, particularly after last week’s shocker against the Dogs.

Round 23 Stirling Marnie Daniel ADocker The Crowd
COL vs ESS COL COL COL COL COL
SYD vs STK SYD SYD SYD STK SYD
NM vs MEL NM NM NM NM NM
GEE vs CAR GEE GEE GEE GEE GEE
GCS vs GWS GWS GWS GWS GWS GWS
WCE vs HAW WCE WCE WCE WCE WCE
WB vs ADE WB WB WB WB WB
RCH vs BL BL RCH RCH RCH RCH
PA vs FRE FRE PA PA PA PA
Last week 3 3 4 5 3
Total score 118 120 112 120 124
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