If you thought last weekend was hard to tip, we’ve got bad news for you.
This might be one of the toughest rounds to tip all season – and the unprecedented variety in the expert tips this week is a testament to that.
We’ve agreed on just two matches this weekend – which is surely a record in my time running the tipping panel. Someone could find themselves five points clear atop the leaderboard if things go their way.
As it stands, it’s Dem Panopoulos on 35 points narrowly leading myself and Liam Salter on 34 points each.
Western Bulldogs, Collingwood, GWS Giants, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne, Carlton, West Coast
It’s a truly terrible shame Dustin Martin misses tomorrow night’s Richmond-Bulldogs blockbuster. It’s a very small sample size, but the Tigers have won just two of the four matches he’s missed over the last five seasons – and that could be the difference maker against the runaway premiership favourites.
There’s no way Damien Hardwick’s men roll over and get steamrolled, but the Bulldogs have such outrageous midfield depth that should see them fully exploit the triple Norm Smith-medallist’s absence and claim the win.
Collingwood have been getting ragged on non-stop after their Anzac Day defeat but, while I think it’s painfully obvious the Magpies need to move on from Nathan Buckley at season’s end, they haven’t been as bad as the headlines claim.
Gold Coast looked the goods against Sydney last week, but they have a miserable record at the MCG and haven’t been impressive enough outside of the Sydney win to warrant favouritism.
Adelaide are starting to ease off after their blistering start to the season and look vulnerable. As keen as people have been to abandon the GWS bandwagon following their last quarter against the Dogs – it was the Bulldogs! They’re still in reasonably good form and should get up.
St Kilda have simply been too miserable for me to waste a tip on them. It’s entirely possible they get up over Hawthorn and pat themselves on the back over it, but the Hawks have been keeping opposition sides honest all season and should outwork their disappointing opponents.
Saturday night’s two matches are simple maths problems. Brisbane – Lachie Neale = loss to Port Adelaide. Sydney – Dane Rampe = Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins having a field day in a Cats win.
Sunday’s first equation is even simpler. Melbourne > North Melbourne.
But the other games on Sunday are a lot harder. This feels like the most important Essendon-Carlton game in some time. The Bombers have been getting plaudits aplenty for seeing off Collingwood – and, in fairness, it was a good performance. The asterisk, however, is that they were playing Collingwood.
The Blues have been copping a serious bruising in the press for going down to Port Adelaide and Brisbane. The asterisk here is that they were up against preliminary finalists from last year!
It’s a must-win for Carlton, which stacks the odds in Essendon’s favour, but I’ll back the Blues to get it done.
Finally, the Western Derby should be an absolute cracker. Fremantle are in fine form and are a bigger chance than they have been in this rivalry in a very long time. However, with West Coast sure to be smarting after their debacle in Geelong, the fire-breathing Eagles should have all the motivation they need to get back on the winner’s list.
Sure things are few and far between this week, but the undefeated Demons downing the winless Kangaroos gets the nod as this week’s Shoe-In of the Week.
Richmond, Collingwood, GWS Giants, St Kilda, Brisbane, Geelong, Melbourne, Carlton, Fremantle
Perfectly average would be the way I’d describe the start to this tipping season, which means I’m consistent across ratings of any subject.
The Crows’ loss was a heartbreaker, the Tigers capitulated, and I still don’t know which team won the Anzac Day clash given 44 players may as well have worn the same guernseys.
But we move on and it’s another really good weekend of footy for Round 7, or Easter if you’re celebrating it this week.
Melbourne are the only easy tip of the week, although given all games in Tasmania between them and North have been decided by less than a goal, a fixture change would eliminate any deep, deep doubts.
Two of the last four clashes between Richmond and the Bulldogs have been in Round 7, with the Bulldogs winning both games, which is my random fact of the week.
Both teams are missing key players, and it’s only the second time they’ve played each other at the MCG since 2013. I think the Tigers might cause a bit of an upset on Friday night.
The Suns were super impressive last week and the Magpies weren’t. Brodie Grundy was dominant last time he was criticised in the media though, and I’m expecting him to lead the bounce back.
GWS match up well against the Crows, and the Saints are bound to produce one of those mirages that causes people to think they’re magically resurgent.
Lots of people will tip against Brisbane after Lachie Neale went in for surgery, but this is a defining game for both clubs.
If Port can do a number on the Lions, I’ll be convinced. In the meantime, I think Brisbane may well just find that extra gear at home to keep flying under the radar.
Sydney’s excellent start has hit a real roadblock, and the Cats have turned their form around. This is more of a 50/50 game than people will give it credit for, but there’s really good offensive rotation at Geelong at the moment that should exploit the struggling Swans defence.
Essendon have randomly become a really entertaining team, and this match against Carlton has had alternating results since 2013. The difference will come in attack, and Harry McKay has one hand on the Coleman.
Finally, the derby. The Eagles have beaten Fremantle ten times in a row and have the mental stranglehold, even though they are heavily depleted.
This is one meaningful streak I’ll be supporting to end this week, and it’ll require a big undertaking from the Dockers’ midfield to do so.
Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast, Adelaide, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne, Essendon, West Coast
A solid six for me last week. Unfortunately, this week looks more difficult, so this’ll be fun.
There are three big games worth watching. The first, tomorrow night’s clash between Richmond and the Bulldogs, looks a beauty. The Doggies’ form line is simple: they haven’t lost. The Tigers have been more up-and-down, with last week’s flat effort against a similarly loss-less team in Melbourne bound to have frustrated, leaving them stranded at 3-3.
Injury-ravaged would be an apt way to describe the teams: there’ll be no Dusty, no Nick Vlaustin, no Tim English, no Josh Dunkley. The latter two are impactful losses for the Dogs, but they’ve got the form and the talent to win this.
The second clash is Saturday night’s Gabba encounter between the Lions and the Power. I’ve loved the Power this year, though their thrashing of the Saints was a mere formality last week.
The Lions overcame a plucky Blues outfit, but lost Darcy Gardiner and, frustratingly, Lachie Neale. The teams epitomise the home ground advantage; the Lions tend to win these match-ups at home, vice versa for Port. I’m backing that streak to end though, as the Power should have the class to overcome the Lions.
The Western Derby is the third massive clash you’ll need to look out for. Freo have lost ten? of these clashes in a row, yet they’ve got cause for optimism this year. The Eagles were humbled by Geelong last weekend, almost reaching a triple figure loss, while Freo have won three in a row for the first time under Justin Longmuir’s tutelage. [caption id="attachment_1090389" align="alignnone" width="755"] (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)[/caption]
The blaring issue for the Dockers, though, is their injury problems in their backline. If Brennan Cox misses, adding to the grounded Joel Hamling and Alex Pearce, they’ll be serious worries about whether their undersized defence can handle the returning Josh Kennedy and co. That’s a serious worry.
If Cox plays, expect the game to be close. If he doesn’t, the Eagles should make it an eleventh straight win. Either way, I’m going the Eagles (I’ll either be happy with the tip or happy when I lose it).
The only genuine sure bet is Melbourne over North, probably by a decent margin. But by ‘genuine sure bet’, I mean a game that the Demons of old would try their very best to lose, regardless of their 6-0 record and their opposition’s winless streak. That shouldn’t happen here.
A clash that’s a little more difficult, but should go my way, is Saturday’s Crows-Giants game. Adelaide’s had two close losses in a row – including a thriller in Tassie last week – but they’ll be back at home and eager to bounce back.
The Giants have certainly improved in the past fortnight, but an extremely narrow loss against the Swans isn’t an indication of anything major. They let me down last week, but I’m confident in backing in the Crows here.
To finish off, expect to see the Suns upset Collingwood in a game that might put the dagger further into Nathan Buckley’s heart (big call, I know, but sometimes risks pay off), the Saints should be able to bounce back against the Hawks, Geelong should beat an increasingly lacklustre Swans outfit and Essendon should take momentum from their ANZAC Day win to better the Blues – though I have very little confidence in any of those tips.
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