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Opinion

The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 9

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12th May, 2021
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Has this been the hardest season to tip in a very long time? Sure feels like it.

I only have myself to blame for gambling on North Melbourne and Sydney, but that doesn’t ease the sting of copping yet another five last weekend.

Dem Panopoulos scored himself six and Liam Salter was very impressive with seven. You can check out the leaderboard at the bottom of the article because I sure as hell ain’t talking about it.

Stirling Coates

Geelong, Sydney, North Melbourne, Brisbane, Richmond, Port Adelaide, Fremantle, Melbourne, West Coast

In fairness to the fixturing folks at AFL HQ, St Kilda vs Geelong was supposed to be a ripper coming into 2021. Instead, the Saints have been massively disappointing, while the Cats have broken the shackles in recent weeks and are rocketing up the favouritism ladder.

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St Kilda’s woeful recent record against the Cats is skewed by a bunch of Kardinia Park matches, but they’ve been hapless against top sides all season and can’t be trusted here.

The Swans may have gone down to the Demons, but they actually won three quarters and the narrow margin proves, to me, they mean business in 2021. Collingwood will keep them honest, but the SCG factor means Sydney should get over the line.

North Melbourne fooled me once, so shame on them, but I’m prepared to roll the dice once more as they take on the hapless Hawks in Launceston. Hawthorn were the first team to lose to the Crows last season and I can see history repeating itself here.

Next up is QClash number 20. This will be the third QClash in a row with one of the sides in the top eight after the first 17 (!) were played with both sides on the outer. I look forward to the day this rivalry actually takes off, but it won’t be Saturday. Lions by plenty.

As per usual, the best has been saved for Saturday night. The wounded Tigers will face a stern test against a Greater Western Sydney side in fairly good form. The Giants have won four of their last five and were in it for three quarters in that sole loss to the Bulldogs – they’re a decent chance.

However, the travel works against them here. Even though both sides have pretty ordinary recent records at Marvel Stadium, the Tigers simply have to bounce back. If they don’t, all bets are off.

Dustin Martin

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The match of the round, however, is undoubtedly the Port Adelaide-Western Bulldogs cracker later that night. This is simply must-watch footy. Port’s ordinary efforts against fellow contenders over the last two seasons are a serious worry, but they’ve all come away from home.

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They’re quietly building an almighty fortress at the Adelaide Oval and, given the Dogs don’t play well there, that earns them the tip this time.

Sunday’s games have been a heck of a lot easier to tip than Saturday’s all season, and that continues this weekend. Fremantle are simply a much better side than Essendon and, despite the travel, should walk away from that clash with the four points.

Melbourne should have little trouble moving to 9-0 when they take on Carlton at the MCG, while the final match of Round 9 is also the Shoe-In of the Week; West Coast will run rings around Adelaide in Perth.

Dem Panopoulos

Geelong, Sydney, Hawthorn, Brisbane, GWS, Port Adelaide, Essendon, Melbourne, West Coast

Going heart over head was a little costly in what was, in hindsight, a pretty straightforward week.

It’s hard to look at a set of fixtures in 2021, however, and be comfortable in every selection, although the same can be said for any of the past 20 years’ worth of tips for me.

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There are some really nice contests in Round 9, but it’s an anticlimactic start.

Geelong have lost one game against St Kilda since the start of 2011 and quite frankly, this shouldn’t be the marquee Friday night match.

The last four contests between the Swans and Magpies have been decided by a combined 19 points, and this will be 12th time in the last 14 matches that this game is in Sydney. Expect the Swans to be too fast for Collingwood.

If North Melbourne are going to achieve something this season, they must win one of the upcoming easy fixtures. Unfortunately, being down to 26 fit players doesn’t bode well.

The Q-Clash should be relatively one-sided, as the Suns look destined to experience another “brave” season with a finish around the 11th-14th mark.

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Richmond’s midfield is decimated at the moment, so I’ll indulge in the tipping of GWS, knowing that whatever the result, something is gained from it.

The Power and the Bulldogs will be the match of the round, and it’s difficult to know which way to go. It comes down to whether the Power’s defensive work can withstand the incredible offensive play of the Bulldogs, and I’m not sure it can. Truthfully, I think the fact this game is in Adelaide will be particularly important. I’m still not convinced by Port Adelaide, but I don’t think the Bulldogs will travel well here.

Unfortunately for Fremantle fans, this winnable game on paper comes against an Essendon team that is confident and has an excellent record in this fixture.

People are starting to catch onto the fact that Melbourne are a legit team in 2021, but I firmly believe this is the big danger game.

They have won five in a row against the Blues, but three of the last four fixtures have been decided by less than 10 points, and this Carlton team has a lot to prove. Perhaps if I hadn’t stumbled last week, I’d have the courage to tip this upset.

Finally, the Eagles are setting themselves up for an easy top four finish without anyone noticing. They’ll beat the Crows by at least ten goals.

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Liam Salter

Geelong, Sydney, North Melbourne, Brisbane, Richmond, Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Melbourne, West Coast

A solid seven handed me my first weekly column win of the year last week (shared with the Crowd, of course); my chalice was only poisoned by believing in the Tigers (not usually a sin) and a last quarter capitulation by the Suns. I take my (temporary) throne basking in full confidence – so expect me to score three this week.

For game of the round, that’s usually Friday night’s domain. But forget about that as the real good stuff is 24 hours later, as Port host the Western Bulldogs. This should be a beauty, as both teams are capable of playing some scintillating footy.

The Doggies will benefit from multiple injured players returning, including Tim English, while the Power will suffer from Scott Lycett’s suspension.

The home advantage seems to have given Port a weird amount of favouritism, if the betting market is anything to go by, but I’m going to go the Doggies. I can sense an upset coming.

Richmond take on the Giants that night, too, in what should also be a good game. The Tigers are a frightening proposition at the best of times, let alone when they’ve been criticised for a crappy performance the week prior – let alone when two of their players were caught in a night club fight.

Shai Bolton

Shai Bolton. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Richmond’s ‘win-after-controversy’ ratio is rather good of late: they beat the Suns a week after their ‘winning club song groping scandal’ last August, and smashed the Cats after their infamous Queensland COVID-breach a month later. GWS, for their part, looked great in their win over the Dons last week. They’re a half chance here, but controversy or not, I’d be backing the Tigers either way.

There’s a Hawks versus North clash down in Tassie which, in a good year for the clubs, would excite nobody. This is not a good year for the clubs. I’m not comfortable picking either side for the win, so I’m going to take a risk and pick North to break through for their inaugural 2021 victory.

Sunday throws plenty at us. The Demons are looking for their ninth consecutive win. The Blues a better side than their record suggests and while it’s nigh-on a cliché to suggest this is a game the Dees would usually lose, it’s an impossible fact to ignore. I’m not tipping it to happen – the Dees should sneak this win – I’m also not ruling it out.

Essendon versus Freo is likely to be a real scrap of a game. Both teams are coming off a run of losses, and both outfits are desperate for a win, the visitors more so. The Bombers are the healthier side and are at home – and pairing that with a good record against Freo, it should be the home team’s for the taking (though it should be close).

As for easy games to tip, it’s relatively slim pickings this week. There’s only one I’m super comfortable picking, and that’s Sunday’s clash at in the west: expect West Coast to easily be able to defeat the Crows.

There are several others that are close to being in the certainty column, even if that is a risky proposition: Brisbane is a very good chance to win the Q-Clash against the Suns, tomorrow night’s clash should see the Cats garner a win over a hard-to-read St Kilda outfit and the Swans should defeat a Collingwood side who are hopeless at the moment.

Round 9 Stirling Dem Liam Crowd
STK vs GEE GEE GEE GEE GEE
SYD vs COL SYD SYD SYD SYD
HAW vs NM NM HAW NM HAW
GCS vs BL BL BL BL BL
RCH vs GWS RCH GWS RCH RCH
PA vs WB PA PA WB PA
ESS vs FRE FRE ESS ESS ESS
MEL vs CAR MEL MEL MEL MEL
WCE vs ADE WCE WCE WCE WCE
Last week 5 6 7 7
Total 43 47 45 48
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