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Opinion

The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 3

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31st March, 2021
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Easter and its four-day footy festival are here early this year – as is crunch time in tipping land.

My heroically brave and sagely wise Brisbane tip on Friday night was undone by one the cruellest injustices modern history has ever witnessed and if it costs me the title, there’ll be hell to pay.

What is has done, in the meantime, is put me behind Dem Panopoulos and Liam Salter in the early going. A normally adequate score of six was dramatically outshone by Dem’s (and the Crowd’s) impressive eight, while Liam made up for Round 1’s mess with seven.

It means the new kid on the block has raced out to an early two-point lead – and put himself on the back foot in his next performance review.

Stirling Coates

Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Carlton, Melbourne, Port Adelaide

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The Lions have every right to be seething after they were robbed of what would have been a famous win on Friday night, but having a coach as level-headed as Chris Fagan means I’m confident they’ll manage that emotion the right way.

As unsatisfying as the ending was, Brisbane can take a lot of positives out of their narrow defeat – they’re not as far off the pace as their 0-2 start suggests and they should steady the ship with a win over the Magpies tonight.

Friday night’s first match is far from interesting – the Bulldogs should trounce the Kangaroos by a cricket score – but the second one is really hard to pick.

Adelaide played a lot better than they got credit for last week and have already proven themselves in Matthew Nicks’ short tenure to be a totally different proposition at home. As for Gold Coast, their demolition of North didn’t tell us much, but the extent to which they challenged the Eagles in Perth the week before does.

This is arguably their biggest test under Stuart Dew so far – a loss would be very dispiriting – but I’ll back them to make a statement with a four-goal win.

Moving to Saturday, and I have to say – as a Swans fan – I was nowhere near impressed with their win over the Crows as everyone else seems to be.

They took their chances when they had the momentum, which was great, but they simply couldn’t go with the visitors when they had the ascendancy and were very loose down back at times – woeful inaccuracy from their opponents being the saviour.

Despite the strong start – which I think is definitely the start of real improvement – I reckon they’ll cop a harsh reality check against the Tigers.

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Jason Castagna of the Tigers celebrates after scoring a goal

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The real classic is Saturday night’s blockbuster between West Coast and Port Adelaide. The Power have picked up where they left off last home-and-away season and have now topped the ladder at the conclusion of 19 consecutive rounds. They have no qualms playing the Eagles and I’m backing them to move to 3-0 with a rousing win.

The other tip that requires some thought in Sunday’s Carlton-Fremantle clash. Yes, the Blues were very disappointing against Collingwood. Yes, Carlton are smashed by injuries. Yes, they’ve cost me some tips over the last two seasons.

Yes, they have a horrid record at home against Fremantle. Yes, the Dockers are welcoming Michael Walters back. I’m tipping the Blues anyway. Is it a calamitous error of judgement? I’ll get back to you on Sunday night.

Round 3’s other matches are on the more straightforward side. Essendon and St Kilda are both cursed by horror injury lists, but the Bombers are also cursed with a lack of talent and should get towelled up by the Saints.

I’m abandoning my ‘Giants to rebound’ prediction already – they look absolutely hopeless and should cop a bruising against Melbourne, while Geelong should rack up the goals against Hawthorn on Easter Monday.

The Shoe-In of the Week rebounded strongly last week and I’m confident it’ll move to 2-1 on the season; Bulldogs to wipe the stripes off North Melbourne on Good Friday is the one this week.

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Dem Panopoulos

Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda, West Coast, Fremantle, Melbourne, Geelong

On paper, last round looked much easier to tip with high scores everywhere, but Brisbane and West Coast could have, and perhaps should have, created a little more havoc.

Still, I haven’t seen 89 per cent next to my name since a spelling test in Grade 1, so I will gleefully tuck away the eight correct tips and hope to carry some of that luck forward.

It starts off with this season’s first fixture change, and all the history points towards one team. The Magpies have won eight of their last nine games at Marvel Stadium, have won six of their last seven games against Brisbane, and the Lions have only won two of their last eight at the venue.

So, naturally, I’m tipping Brisbane to overcome the obstacles without a recognised ruckman.

If the Bulldogs decide to play a full game on Good Friday, they’ll beat North Melbourne by 100 points.

Adelaide and Gold Coast having a Good Friday clash is good to see, especially with the style each team is playing. The Suns should win this if they’re genuine, and I think they are.

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Richmond at the MCG is a bridge too far for the impressive Swans, and I can’t imagine the reigning premiers allowing Errol Gulden and Logan McDonald to get off the leash for a third straight week.

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Poor Bombers fans. My preseason thoughts were that the Saints will be fighting to scrap into the eight, and that opinion hasn’t changed – the fact they will win by 10 goals this week doesn’t change that.

West Coast and Port Adelaide probably play in the match of the round. Sometimes, contests that are difficult to predict must be tipped using intricate analysis levels above what the common mind can comprehend.

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The weather forecast for Perth on Saturday is 30 degrees, and the Eagles (five) have fewer 30-year-olds than Port Adelaide (eight) on their list, with younger players able to handle hotter conditions better.

Also, the Power have had two soft kills to open 2021, I’m banking on West Coast’s second round heartbreak to carry them over the line.

Carlton have lost their first two games, and now Jack Martin and Zac Fisher are out for the foreseeable future. This is my tip for upset of the round, Fremantle have lessened Fyfe’s midfield minutes anyway, and Michael Walters is back.

If Melbourne loses to the hapless Giants, we’re back to square one at that club. They really shouldn’t.

Easter Monday is always a favourite, marking a day off for most and the ability to watch footy in the afternoon on a weekday. Bliss. The Hawks have a crack, but Geelong by plenty.

Liam Salter

Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Richmond, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Fremantle, Melbourne, Geelong

In an utterly predictable twist, coronavirus has struck the season; fortunately, we can be glad Gil and co got a significant amount of COVID crisis management last year. So far, only one game – tonight’s Collingwood and Brisbane blockbuster – has been affected. Fortuitously for the Pies, they remain cocooned in Victoria as they clash with the winless Lions, who’d be seething after a controversial loss last Friday.

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The Pies looked better last week, but the Lions are due for a win and have more at stake. They’ll win a thriller.

The other Queensland team, the Suns, are South Australia-bound to play the Crows. The Crows will be ecstatic to be back at home, and that gives them a significant advantage over the Suns, who’ve never won at Adelaide Oval. Based on that, I can’t not tip the home side – though I get the feeling this could be an underrated cracker of a clash, but if the Crows win it won’t be a replication of their round one stunner against the Cats.

Brodie Smith of the Crows in action

(Photo by Matt Turner/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

As for the Swans, they face Richmond on Saturday. Driven by their superb youth – two rising start nominees in succession – the Swans have been the biggest surprise this year, and they’d be relishing the challenge of the Tigers at the ‘G.

In any such case, expect this clash to be better than last July’s horrendously low-scoring slog. My heart is screaming for the Swans – who doesn’t want a surprisingly good team to do good things? – but my head knows it’s a wholly irresponsible tipping move to tip against the Tigers, so I won’t.

Port Adelaide’s trip to Perth on Saturday night should hold fewer fears than normal, given they haven’t lost to the Eagles since 2018, and won big at this venue in 2019. Port are potentially the strongest team in the competition at the moment, but the Eagles were superb in a losing effort last weekend, and will be determined in front of a ferocious home crowd.

Unsurprisingly, it’s super hard to split these two, but despite the expected return of Luke Shuey into West Coast’s line up, the Power are an irresistible tip.

Sunday’s Carlton and Freo clash is an interesting one. Due to the Nat Fyfe’s concussion woes, we’ll be missing out on an awesome Cripps-Fyfe battle, which disappoints. Nevertheless, the Fremantle of last week – led by captains both former (David Mundy) and future (Andrew Brayshaw) – was a much-improved side than the one who lost to Melbourne, and they’d be confident on taking on the winless Blues.

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I’ve pegged these two to be relatively similar this year, and it’s a hard game to tip, but (no bias here, I promise), I think the injured Dockers will be up and about, and should steal the win.

As ever, there’s some easier yet upset friendly clashes to tip. I’m expecting the Giants to make it a trio of losses against the Demons, the Saints should consign the Bombers to the same fate, Geelong should move to 2-1 against the Hawks on Easter Monday, and the Bulldogs should thrash the Kangaroos in Good Friday’s clash.

Round 3 Stirling Dem Liam Crowd
COL vs BL BL BL BL COL
NM vs WB WB WB WB WB
ADE vs GCS GCS GCS ADE GCS
RCH vs SYD RCH RCH RCH RCH
ESS vs STK STK STK STK STK
WCE vs PA PA WCE PA PA
CAR vs FRE CAR FRE FRE CAR
GWS vs MEL MEL MEL MEL MEL
GEE vs HAW GEE GEE GEE GEE
Last week 6 8 7 8
Total 11 13 11 14
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