We have ourselves quite the finish coming up.
Sure, what actually takes place on the field will be intriguing – but how about the tipping race!
After leading all season, Dem Panopoulos is faltering at the crucial hurdles; his score of four (following a two last week) means he now sits two points adrift of both Liam Salter (who scored six) and myself (scoring seven).
A seven from the Crowd, however, means they now hold the coveted lead by a solitary point.
Four rounds to go – who will claim the crown?
Port Adelaide, Carlton, Brisbane, West Coast, Melbourne, Hawthorn, Sydney, Geelong, Essendon
Another chapter in black-and-white-gate gets written as the team that wants to be called the Magpies takes on the Magpies. We might have seen the biggest collection of prison bar jumpers for some time if this match was still going ahead at the Adelaide Oval.
The move to Marvel Stadium, unfortunately, takes a lot of gloss off Travis Boak’s 300th – but the Power should still have more than enough in them to ensure the champ enjoys a successful milestone match.
Carlton have looked very slick in the last few weeks and are putting together a very impressive end to the season. The finals race would be a lot more interesting had they played like this all season, but the ship has sailed.
North Melbourne are improving too, but they’re coming from a much worse foundation and, funnily enough, have a woeful record at Docklands. Blues by four goals.
Brisbane are in a no-win situation against the improving Suns. I expect them to win and get their premiership assault back on track, but I also expect it be in a fairly unconvincing manner as the Suns make life difficult for them.
West Coast are billowing with smoke and spluttering towards the finals, but they’re lucky they get to play hosts against St Kilda. The Saints have a horrible record in Perth and, with Rowan Marshall now out of the side, it’s hard to see their game plan stacking up.
Saturday night gives us the two hardest tips of the week. Melbourne also look to be limping towards the finals, but they’ve routinely picked themselves up for contests against the top sides and their comfortable win over the Dogs earlier this season can’t be ignored – nor can the Bulldogs’ iffy record at the MCG.
I’m unsure of Hawthorn’s ability to back up a good performance – they haven’t taken points in consecutive games for over a calendar year – but they have at least shown more in the second half of the season than Adelaide. The venue change is a huge blessing too.
As for Sunday’s games, you’ve just got to pick who’s in better form.
Sydney’s comeback against their crosstown rivals was seriously good stuff and has me daring to dream. Fremantle give the Swans grief, but I’ll back my boys to get it done.
Richmond aren’t totally done and dusted in 2021, but Geelong really should be able to land another body blow.
Essendon are simply in better form than Greater Western Sydney and should continue their unlikely charge to the finals with another win.
My resurgence in tipping form has conveniently glossed over how badly the shoo-in of the week has been. There are no obvious candidates this week too, so let’s roll the dice and back Port.
Port Adelaide, North Melbourne, Brisbane, West Coast, Melbourne, Hawthorn, Sydney, Geelong, GWS Giants
Everyone wants to be an underdog anyway.
The tipping tables have turned over the last fortnight and trying to find the upsets has enabled it, but it won’t stop me from here.
If all nine matches change between the time of writing and the first bounce – and everything is null and void – I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
Friday night footy is a little anticlimactic with Port against the Magpies. Hopefully both teams wear black and white.
The friendly fixture and ability to keep winning has the Power in the top four, which is exactly the spot they’ll want to be in and that shouldn’t stop here. The Undertaker and his signature eye roll would be proud.
Carlton turned the tables last week with a flurry in the last quarter against Collingwood which gives them some confidence this week. North have been much improved and at Marvel, they have more than a fighting chance.
It’s crunch time for the Lions with a little uncertainty surrounding them, but the Q-Clash should be an easy enough fixture to navigate through.
Similarly, the Eagles have started their surge towards guaranteed finals football and it’ll continue against the Saints if the game remains in Perth. I’m assuming it stays as such for now.
If the Crows lose this match, they mightn’t win another one and get them Jason Horne, which is their ultimate goal. Hawthorn improving and Scrimshaw back helps.
The match of the round is clearly the top of the table clash between the Demons and the Bulldogs. Make no mistake, these are two bonafide premiership contenders despite some shaky form at times.
Melbourne can’t play against bottom-ten teams but fire up against the contenders, while the Bulldogs flicked the right switch against the Suns after the first quarter. It’s a tough one to tip; wet conditions would favour the Dees though.
Who’d have thought the Swans were genuine flag contenders? We ought to be convinced by now.
Even though Toby Greene is still out, Lachie Whitfield should return, meaning the Giants get the nod over Essendon.
Lastly, my tips don’t really matter but every Richmond result tends to cause an opposite reaction, so I’ll tip Geelong and have a foot in each camp.
Port Adelaide, Carlton, Brisbane, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Sydney, Geelong, Essendon
It’s unfortunate there’ll be no crowd for Travis Boak’s twice-rescheduled 300th game. Boak’s milestone is almost the most exciting thing about this clash. Port will potentially regain a trio of talented youngsters – Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters – back into the side, and that swings a likely win into almost-certain territory for the ‘home’ side.
Dredged from the Sunday twilight timeslot and thrown into Saturday is Carlton’s encounter with North. North have been better – and should test the Blues – but if the hosts don’t win this, that’s a sign tipping is headed for another ridiculous week.
I’m a fan of the Suns recently, and Brisbane do seem a bit vulnerable. but I struggle to see Gold Coast winning this, particularly with the Lions needing to bounce back.
Speaking of vulnerable teams, the Eagles fit that bill. They face the Saints who, despite losing last week, still remain one of the more in-form sides of the competition.
There’ll be no Rowan Marshall and no Luke Shuey, leaving each side down an important player. The Saints are an appealing tip here, especially because I’m not considering the poor Eagles winning over a horrible Crows outfit a redemption from poor form.
That horrible Adelaide outfit will face the Hawks and lose, while Sydney will be too strong for the Dockers.
Moving past the lacklustre clashes, there’s a couple of genuinely exciting games. I’m keen for Essendon versus GWS. Both are fighting for finals and they have a tendency for close games, with the combined margin for their past three meetings just 12 points.
There’s conjecture this game is the Bombers’ to lose, given they’re in better form that the Giants, and I’ll tip them.
Geelong and Richmond will be entertaining. It’ll be one of the rare Tigers games without Dusty, the Cats are coming off a massive win, the Tigers are still out of the eight and we endured the traditional standoff of Geelong wanting to move the venue but the league declining.
I’m going to go the Cats – Richmond just cannot be trusted.
Finally, it’s a shame that this is the second Demons-Bulldogs game this season with no crowd. There’s unfortunate déjà vu for the Dogs, with Josh Dunkley and Adam Treloar both unavailable, but the difference from two months ago is Melbourne’s form.
The Demons suddenly look more vulnerable, the Dogs will be determined to get one back and I’ll pencil them in for a win.
|PA vs COL||PA||PA||PA||PA|
|CAR vs NM||CAR||NM||CAR||CAR|
|BL vs GCS||BL||BL||BL||BL|
|WCE vs STK||WCE||WCE||STK||WCE|
|MEL vs WB||MEL||MEL||WB||MEL|
|ADE vs HAW||HAW||HAW||HAW||HAW|
|SYD vs FRE||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|GEE vs RCH||GEE||GEE||GEE||GEE|
|ESS vs GWS||ESS||GWS||ESS||ESS|