Saints be praised!
Backing St Kilda to upset Geelong last week worked like an absolute charm – and I was rewarded with a new lead – but only by a solitary tip – in The Roar’s AFL tipping competition.
It calls for a celebration – silent monks style.
But for me to reign forever and ever, as the song goes, I’ll need another strong week in what looms as a make-or-break round. Three or four games present as the ultimate even-uppers: games with a clear favourite, but ones where you can absolutely make a case for the upset.
As it stands, I’ve gone for one of the three to do just that – while my choice of Carlton for Friday night might also be an upset depending on who you ask, so maybe it’s two. In any case, I’ll lose my lead if both go belly-up; but get both right, and suddenly I’m three in the clear!
If you get a 9/9 this week, let’s be honest: it won’t just be the silent monks (and Dwayne Russell whenever a team getting thrashed kicks a goal after a lengthy drought) singing: Hallelujah!
But put in a bad week, and it’ll be more like the version that made us all cry in Shrek.
Carlton, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Adelaide, Richmond, GWS, Brisbane, Fremantle
Touch wood – *body-slams Mason Wood* – but it seems finally, at long last, we’ve got a terrific Friday night clash coming up.
The Blues have been seriously impressive all year, and their midfield has been battering teams into submission throughout. They did just that against GWS, neutralising the threat of the ‘sacked coach factor’ with a brilliant start and finish to send Leon Cameron out a winner.
I still remember the Swans being bullied at the coalface by the Bulldogs in Round 3; while they and in particular Callum Mills are better equipped to meet the challenge this time, the Blues’ midfield might is strong enough to have another terrific win.
Saturday afternoon sees two more tantalising matches, with the Bulldogs and Gold Coast squaring off in Ballarat while Geelong host Port Adelaide. With three of the four banging on the door of the top eight and the Cats clinging on in seventh, this already has the feel of a finals-shaping afternoon.
I’m backing the Dogs to hold off the Suns based on nothing more than blind faith – if the Suns can do what they’ve done to Fremantle and Sydney and match the Bulldogs in close, their backline is restrictive enough to let Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult kick a winning score with ease.
In the other match, Geelong at home are never easy to tip against, especially with Travis Boak under the weather. Plus, who at the Power is big enough to handle Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron?
Melbourne by a million on Saturday twilight to bridge the gap to two more interesting Saturday night clashes. Richmond have bossed Essendon in Dreamtime at the ‘G for years, and it’s hard to not see that trend continuing. Expect the Bombers to put up a fight – probably literally – after a week of being called soft, though.
I think Adelaide hosting St Kilda promises to be the most fascinating match of the week. I have the Saints to thank for my new lead in this tipping competition, but the Crows seem due for another statement win after a down month and showing glimpses in the first half against Brisbane. Life without Jack Steele might just get off to a rough start for Brett Ratten.
Mark McVeigh’s time as GWS coach should get off to a winning start against the West Coast rabbl- I mean, Eagles; while Brisbane’s trip to Tassie to face Hawthorn is more interesting than you might think. The Hawks know UTAS Stadium like the back of their hands and knocked the Lions over when they played down here last year. I’m still backing the Lions, though – the Crows fill my upset quota for the weekend.
Finally, the Dockers should be too good for Collingwood at home, especially with a group of players still under the weather among the Magpies. After hardly scoring against the Suns, the Magpies’ backline will almost certainly be more leaky.
Sydney, Geelong, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide, Richmond, GWS, Brisbane, Fremantle
This is one of those rare rounds where the fixtures progressively get worse with each day that passes, which almost makes sense if you want to ease off footy before starting the next week.
To celebrate, I’ll tip backwards.
Fremantle’s loss to the Suns was a substantial hiccup, but that has been a notoriously dangerous fixture for them in the past. It’s a strange quirk that Collingwood have played at Optus Stadium eight times, but only twice against the Dockers. Expect the flag contender to bounce back.
The Lions have won two of their past three at UTAS Stadium, but expect this to be a really close encounter with Hawthorn. An upset here wouldn’t shock, but I’m playing it safe with Brisbane.
Mark McVeigh should start off his coaching career with a win but please, PLEASE, play the stars in
suitable positions. The Giants are a tough watch otherwise.
Saturday night’s headline act is Dreamtime at the ‘G, one of my absolute favourite fixtures on the calendar. Even an absolute pessimist couldn’t tip the Bombers here, though you can expect a few more tackles than the 30 they mustered against Sydney.
The other match provides plenty of intrigue, too, and there’s a lot to prove here for the Saints against Adelaide. They’re much hyped at the moment and are coming off a stellar victory.
The Crows do have a great record in this game and obviously the venue favours them. I’ll tip the upset with room to be impressed by St Kilda – we’ll see how they cope without Jack Steele.
There is no Saturday twilight fixture this week unfortunately, though Melbourne do get a chance to stretch their legs and get an extra training session away against a VFL side: the *checks notes* North Melbourne Kangaroos.
Saturday arvo sees the team that loves possessing the ball the most against the most direct team in the league – the Bulldogs and the Suns.
A lot of this will ride on Aaron Naughton’s availability, especially given four of the last five games between these
two teams have been decided by less than two goals. 50/50, but leaning towards the Suns after back to back wins over Sydney and Freo.
Geelong should win at home, and expect them to begin to lean into the defensive side of things against Port.
Finally, or firstly, it’s the match of the round.
Carlton are ticking along nicely, while the Swans finally got back on track after a rough month. I think the Blues’ forward line will be tested against a rock solid defence, while the Swans play Marvel Stadium swimmingly. Sydney in a ripper.
Sydney, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, St Kilda, Richmond, GWS, Brisbane, Fremantle
This version of the Sydney Swans likes fast decks, and I feel like Carlton are due to drop a game after going to 7-2 last week. Despite this being in Melbourne, Sydney will get the chance to cut the Blues up on Friday night football.
Geelong v Port at GMHBA Stadium has more intrigue about it than it might have a month ago. The Cats have been going win-loss in the last six weeks, and are starting to lose their aura, while the Power are flying high with four wins in a row. Have to stick with Geelong at the Cattery though.
Western Bulldogs host Gold Coast in Ballarat, and the Suns are bringing with them a newfound ‘anywhere, anytime’ mantra after successive wins against Sydney and Fremantle.
Stuart Dew’s men are hunting scalps, and this would be another enormous feather in their cap. The Dogs in a tight one.
Melbourne will obviously beat North Melbourne in the Saturday twilight game, but at night we see two teams high on confidence, in Richmond and St Kilda, tackling two sides at a low ebb in Adelaide and Essendon respectively.
It’s tempting to back an upset, but I have to go with the favourites until these particular underdogs show signs of turning their form around.
On Sunday, Mark McVeigh will get his first win as a caretaker coach, with a cushy start against West Coast. Hopefully he can help unleash some sizzle from the most boring team in football.
Hawthorn keep feeling like a banana skin for better-credentialled teams, even if they haven’t won for a month. You’d expect Brisbane to be too professional for them in Tasmania, though.
Freo host Collingwood to finish the round, and will be smarting from that loss to the Suns where they kicked only four goals for the game and could only score 0.2 across the middle two quarters. Woeful, it was.
They are representing a new form of maturity in 2022, though, and a convincing win against the Magpies would be a great chance to confirm it.
Carlton, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, St Kilda, Richmond, GWS, Brisbane, Fremantle
Been an insanely busy week for yours truly, so it’s a rapid fire tipping round: less fluff, more predictions to be duly proven wrong.
Let’s go easiest first. Melbourne will win, no further discussion needed. GWS – interim coach and all – should defeat the Eagles. St Kilda should have too much class for the Crows, even without Jack Steele, while Richmond are clearly a better team that the thoroughly disappointing Bombers.
As much as I’d like to pick an upset in the next game, I’m dubious it would happen. So, confidently, Brisbane over the Hawks. It has real potential to blow up in my face, but let’s roll with it.
Carlton and the Swans is game of the round (imagine how many times that sentence could have been said in the last few years!) and these two are desperately difficult to split. I’m going to go the Blues, but am not confident in the slightest. Like, not at all.
Geelong hosting the Power is an enthralling battle. Port are apparently no longer a bad team – and thus are no longer ‘cool’ to relentlessly criticise for the AFL talking heads – while the Cats have dropped two supposedly winnable games in succession. Port has an horrific record at Kardinia Park, so while form suggest otherwise, history makes me lean towards the Cats.
Speaking of teams who are seemingly no longer bad, the Suns have been on a bit of a form streak of late. But the Bulldogs in Ballarat aren’t Freo in the wet nor the Swans at the SCG – I’m backing the Doggies to win here.
Finally, my own team. Freo proved they could still ‘Freo’ a very winnable game last week, and this week scares me: the Pies have a few handy ins, and Perth’s forecast is for rain. I’m gonna back the Dockers regardless; they’re a level above the Pies this year, particularly at home.
|CAR vs SYD||CAR||SYD||SYD||CAR||SYD|
|GEE vs PA||GEE||GEE||GEE||GEE||GEE|
|WB vs GCS||WB||GCS||WB||WB||WB|
|NM vs MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL|
|ADE vs STK||ADE||ADE||STK||STK||STK|
|RCH vs ESS||RCH||RCH||RCH||RCH||RCH|
|GWS vs WCE||GWS||GWS||GWS||GWS||GWS|
|HAW vs BL||BL||BL||BL||BL||BL|
|FRE vs COL||FRE||FRE||FRE||FRE||FRE|