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Opinion

The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 4

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Editor
7th April, 2021
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After a shocker of an Easter round – especially Saturday – our tipping is in need of serious resurrection.

Unfortunately, Round 4 looks to be another tricky set of matches, with wounded contenders squaring off, upstarts facing their first stern tests and teams needing a rebound looking to score it on one another.

Everybody on the expert tipping panel got their lone wolf tip correct, but we somehow all ended up with five. Surprisingly, the Crowd fared even worse and managed a paltry score of four. Tough weekend indeed.

That means Dem is level atop the ladder with you lot on 18, while Liam Salter and myself are snapping at your heels with 16.

I just want a seven-plus round for once…

Stirling Coates

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Sydney, Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, West Coast, Gold Coast, Collingwood, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hawthorn

What was that about the Swans copping a reality check last weekend? I thought I’d masterfully scheduled Easter lunch with the in-laws to spare myself the pain of a Tiger trouncing and instead missed Sydney’s best win in years.

The lid is off, but the pressure is on. The Swans, predicted by many to be a bottom four side, now simply have to make finals to get a pass for 2021. I worry about how a young side approaches this match after being the talk of the town all week, but they should have the talent to nab a fourth win against the Bombers.

The main event is, of course, tomorrow night’s preliminary final rematch between Port Adelaide and Richmond. Both teams would have to be smarting after getting blown off the park last week by opposition they would’ve been confident of beating.

I don’t think it’s doom or gloom for either the Power or Tigers, but the reigning premiers picked up two more injuries in Dion Prestia and Kamdyn McIntosh and will be without Nick Vlastuin for a bit longer too.

They look a tad vulnerable and I reckon they’ll go down again.

Saturday’s match in Ballarat looks to be a ripper as well. The Bulldogs ground North Melbourne into a fine powder last Friday night, but the Kangas look so bad this season it looks like we’ll learn nothing from matches featuring them.

Still, the Bulldogs have looked superb in their other matches and have a good record at Eureka Stadium – they’ll keep top spot after seeing off the Lions.

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My pre-season predictions of St Kilda taking their game to the next level and West Coast spluttering to a mid-table finish are off to an absolutely shocking start and I suspect I’ll look even sillier after they play this weekend.

The Saints are in serious trouble – their only win was a tooth-and-nail slog over GWS which, knowing what we know about the Giants now, looks very unimpressive.

Bradley Hill of the Saints runs with the ball

(Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Collingwood have held their own despite pre-season doom and gloom and they should move to 2-2 with a comfortable win over the injury-ravaged Giants, while Gold Coast – desperately unlucky not to have knocked off the Crows – should also even their ledger with a win at home over the Blues.

As unlucky as the Suns were, Adelaide proved they’re nothing like the Crows of 2020 with their gutsy effort last Saturday night. They’ll need to keep their wits about them, but they should pile more pain on North Melbourne and match their win tally from last season inside the first month.

Now, it’s upset time. I’ve not been impressed with Geelong at all this season. They looked flat as a tack in Round 1, they needed an umpiring howler to hold on in Round 2 and almost got run down on Monday playing serious uninspired football.

Melbourne have question marks of their own – none of their wins have come against impressive opposition – but three of their last four losses to Geelong came by under a kick, they’ve caught them at a good time and should have what it takes to win a close one.

I’m stunned the odds on Hawthorn are as long as they are for Sunday’s twilight game. No Nat Fyfe makes a difference, but the Dockers were horrid against Carlton and the Hawks have held their own against top sides two weeks in a row – I’m backing a Clarko classic upset to finish the round.

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Picking a Shoe-In of the Week this week is almost impossible – nothing looks that certain. Reluctantly, I’ll go with the Pies over GWS.

Dem Panopoulos

Sydney, Port Adelaide, Brisbane, West Coast, Gold Coast, Collingwood, Adelaide, Geelong, Fremantle

Well, that was a messy round.

Puzzling logic guided me to pick West Coast last week, which cancelled out Fremantle’s horrible performance, and overall, the three of us landing on five tips is probably a fair result. Every single match this round is compelling, which makes tipping harder than it already is, so I’m prepared to dive deep into the list of excuses next week.

Kicking off the round with the two teams who caused the biggest upsets of Round 3 should be fun, particularly with some potency about the Bombers. I don’t think Lance Franklin’s inclusion actually helps Sydney, it’s dangerous to be too Buddy-centric.

Still, the Swans should be too good at home against a modern-day rival, given the quality of their games in recent times.

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Port Adelaide and Richmond is a genuine 50-50 clash, particularly given they’ve won three games each out of the last six contests at Adelaide Oval. I subscribe to the rule that if the team you support is in a tough game, tip against them to not double the disappointment. Let’s go with Port.

Orazio Fantasia of the Power is congratulated by Darcy Byrne-Jones

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

If the rain can stay away from Ballarat, I can see Brisbane causing a mini-upset, particularly with the height advantage in attack.

The Eagles have won 11 of their last 12 against the Saints, and have a good record at Marvel, while St Kilda look slow and uninspiring.

It’s such a pity that Jarrod Witts is out for the season, as he is the Suns’ most important player and leaves them horrifically underdone in the ruck, with five of its six tallest players injured.

Carlton found a gear against the Dockers, but backing that up is a different question, and the ruck advantage mightn’t actually be helpful. Suns to win in a coin toss.

Collingwood versus GWS is an uninspiring Saturday night fixture in itself. The Magpies were okay against Brisbane, while GWS has been really poor and seem to be waiting for Lachie Whitfield to return before playing good footy.

No, I haven’t changed my opinion that North Melbourne won’t win the wooden spoon, although it won’t be at Adelaide’s expense.

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If Geelong plays as they did in Round 3, I have huge concerns over their future. Melbourne has been playing well without excelling, and this is the match where we will learn a lot about the club. Another weather dependent tip, but predicting a little rain, Geelong will sneak over the line again.

To wrap it up, I think we’ll see a bit of form reversal and the Dockers should knock off the Hawks.

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Liam Salter

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

It’s Round 4 and, naturally, I don’t have much of an idea about how more than a few teams are going to fare this year. Are contenders really contenders? Is Sydney a good side? Am I going to get any better at tipping potential upsets?

Speaking of, Sydney’s clash with Essendon tonight is interesting. The Swans have been superb so far this year, while Essendon did bounce back with a comfortable win last week. But the Swans at home – and in the form they’re in – is a tricky encounter for the Dons. Swans to win by a fair bit.

Port and Richmond looks like a stunning game at the best of times, but it’s bound to be even more entertaining given both teams need to bounce back from crappy losses. The reigning premiers have defeated the Power in Adelaide twice in their last three outings here – including in last year’s preliminary final – so the ground won’t hold many fears. It’s a super hard tip, this one, and I’m going to go against the grain a little and tip the Tigers.

Brisbane will be on a high after their excellent win over the Pies last week. But a third consecutive game in Victoria, and up against the high flying Bulldogs, is a challenge I don’t think they can manage. Doggies to move to 4-0 in a close one.

A team that could also move to 4-0 – and will – is the Demons. They’ve successfully managed to navigate their first three rounds of the season, albeit over three weak teams. Fortunately, they come up against a soft Cats side at the right time. They need to win this to have legitimacy as a finals contender – I think they will.

Kysaiah Pickett of the Demons celebrates a goal

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Carlton looked great on Sunday afternoon against Freo (though, admittedly that isn’t a high bar to clear) and will be determined to make it two wins in succession as they head to the Sunshine State.

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Unfortunately, for the Blues, the Suns have been better than their record suggests – they very much challenged both the Eagles and Crows away from home – and I’m going to back them in here to sneak a win.

Freo and the Hawks used to be a fixture which terrified me – usually because it would tend to be played in Tassie. Within their Optus Stadium comfort zone – and with see the expected return of numerous players from injury – I’m going to predict the Dockers will sneak a win. Expect it to be an uncomfortably close game though, as the Hawks were a few extra minutes away from upsetting the Cats last week.

As ever – and despite “easy” tips being a bit of a fallacy this year – there are a couple of games that don’t need a lot of explanation. Expect West Coast to beat the Saints, who have a very tricky few weeks coming up and are in the opposite of good form.

Speaking of good form, the Crows are in it. If they even remotely produce the type of entertaining footy they’ve been producing, they should comfortably smoke the Kangaroos – even if they’re away from home. Don’t be surprised to see Tex Walker pull a Josh Bruce, either.

Finally, it’s not hard to see Collingwood unexpectedly dropping Saturday’s game to GWS, but the Giants’ painful regiment of injuries is a serious worry to an already struggling club. The Pies will win – but by not as much as they should.

Round 4 Stirling Dem Liam Crowd
SYD vs ESS SYD SYD SYD SYD
PA vs RCH PA PA RCH PA
WB vs BL WB BL WB WB
STK vs WCE WCE WCE WCE WCE
COL vs GWS COL COL COL COL
GCS vs CAR GCS GCS GCS CAR
NM vs ADE ADE ADE ADE ADE
MEL vs GEE MEL GEE MEL GEE
FRE vs HAW HAW FRE FRE FRE
Last week 5 5 5 4
Total 16 18 16 18
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