I’m just going to come out and say it: Steven May deserved everything he got for costing me my perfect week in Round 12.
Call me heartless, but had he been in Melbourne’s defence on Saturday night against Sydney, surely he’d have made enough of a difference to get them over the line, and see me through for the year’s first perfect score. (Yes, it’s not a 9, but we takes what we can gets at this point).
(As an aside, the Melbourne fiasco was all worth it for this absolute madness of a story by Channel 7. No notes.)
On paper, this week strikes as being as by-the-numbers as any we’ve had all year, and that’s reflected in our expert tipsters: only one choice across all of us goes against the grain. We’re all in this together, as the song goes; whether that’s to the bright sunshine of a perfect week or down into the seven circles of hell, we’ll have to wait and see.
Richmond, Carlton, Fremantle, Brisbane, GWS, Melbourne
I’m back out in front in our little tipping competition, courtesy of tipping against my Bulldogs against Geelong last week. Yes, I do feel icky about it.
Thankfully, the Dogs have the bye this week, so I won’t need to make a tough call about tipping for or against them. As for the rest, I’m pretty confident in backing every favourite, though I guarantee there will be an upset or two somewhere – but where?
To start on Friday night, Richmond and Port Adelaide have had some titanic, close battles over the years – but all of them have been at the Power’s Adelaide Oval stronghold. If the Tigers can take it up to premiership-contender Port on their own patch, they should be fine against a lesser Power at the MCG – especially with Toby Nankervis, one of the game’s most in-form rucks, coming up against the ‘might’ of Jeremy Finlayson.
Haven’t Port fans suffered enough at Nank’s hands over the years?
Carlton should account for Essendon on Friday night, but goofy things tend to happen in clashes between these sides. They’ve had three draws since 2005, and often have matches decided by late goals or – in 2020’s case – a falcon on the goal line from Liam Jones.
It’s that sort of rivalry, so while the Blues should win, it will probably be closer and weirder than we expect.
Hawthorn have had a tendency of surprising good sides this year, but Fremantle in Perth in dry conditions is a tough, tough ask. It is supposed to rain over there on Saturday, which makes the Dockers far from a surefire bet, but surely Justin Longmuir has addressed that issue after their losses to Gold Coast and Collingwood? Plus, a handy bloke named Nat Fyfe is back, too.
Saturday night should be the match of the round, with Brisbane playing host to St Kilda. That it’s at the Gabba, and Joe Daniher is looking like returning, sways me towards the Lions; but the Saints have been fantastic this year, won the clash here last year, and are probably one statement victory away from really being taken seriously as a flag contender. They’re every chance.
I actually think North Melbourne are half a chance of upsetting GWS on Sunday; am I insane? Perhaps, but the Roos will surely not go through the year 1-21, and the Giants are a side capable of putting in a shocker if they turn up to Marvel Stadium expecting an easy win. You couldn’t tip against them, though.
Finally, Queen’s Birthday sees a suddenly vulnerable Melbourne, fresh off the fortnight from hell (that’s a bad thing even for the Demons), face an in-form Collingwood outfit. It should be another ripping game, and a great chance for both sides to prove exactly what they’re capable of.
Having been slammed by the media and with their flag credentials suddenly taking a bit of a beating, I’m expecting the Dees to respond like a champion team should. Interestingly, the Pies have won the last three Queen’s Birthday matches, dating back to 2017, and in the first one back at the ‘G since COVID, can head in with confidence of a strong showing at least.
Richmond, Carlton, Fremantle, Brisbane, GWS, Melbourne
My tipping continues to be a mixed bag, but at least the bye rounds aren’t as boring as they could be with only six games on offer.
Spreading this round across five days really doesn’t appeal to the hardcore footy lover, but put a different-colour hat on – AFL is being played on nine of the next 11 days!
It kicks off with the Tigers and the Power, and I’ve still not nailed tipping on either of these two teams. Conditions should favour the hosts, but the visitors have chosen to bring in a smaller team – hope you didn’t keep Sam Hayes in your fantasy squads!
Both teams are really pushing for a finals spot and this tip really depends on which team you think is better. It’s the Tigers for me.
Carlton against Essendon might be closer than we all think, if Harry McKay’s rumoured miraculous
return doesn’t eventuate. Inclement weather means the Blues can’t overpossess the footy, and the Bombers
have nothing to lose, so expect a tight game. I can’t pick against Carlton in this one, though.
Fremantle should account for Hawthorn at home; but once again, we can expect a tighter game. The Hawks are destined to be a team in the bottom six, if not bottom four, but they’ll be competitive against the good teams and cause some headaches, at least until the final few rounds. Seeing Nat Fyfe return to AFL level will be good to see as a neutral, too.
Match of the round goes to the Saturday night clash between the Lions and the Saints. A tough, direct home team against the defensively solid, hard-working visitors should will be a fascinating stylistic battle.
While the Saints have been impressive, I’m still not convinced they’re locked into making finals. Winning this game would completely change my perception – while I think they’re a chance, it’s the Lions for me.
Whereas Monday’s Queen’s Birthday clash may be a sellout, you might be able to walk into the coaching box on Sunday at Marvel Stadium when North Melbourne host GWS and find a spare seat in there, such is the difference between the two games.
The Giants should comfortably take down North with a few key players returning, while Melbourne’s torrid time over the last fortnight has to end at some point.
Collingwood has been incredibly impressive, but the Demons could end up winning this one by 10 goals.
Richmond, Carlton, Fremantle, Brisbane, GWS, Melbourne
Port travel to the MCG to tackle Richmond in what could be something of an early elimination final to start the round, another annoyingly short one thanks to those pesky byes.
Both teams will be fired up after a week off, but the Tigers were probably in stronger form before it, and home ground advantage should be enough to sway a tight one.
Essendon and Carlton have also had time to take stock over the bye – the Bombers to regroup and try and get something out of a disaster year, the Blues to consolidate what they are doing well and forge ahead.
It would be a surprise if Carlton don’t get the chocolates here.
The rest of the round looks pretty straightforward, notwithstanding that we’ve seen some tricky results in recent weeks.
Fremantle are on fire, and should handily account for Hawthorn at home. Brisbane have had an average few weeks and St Kilda will fancy themselves an upset chance up at the Gabba – not that I can bring myself to tip them.
GWS and North on a Sunday in the midst of a winter cold snap is no-one’s idea of a great time – sorry, Tasmania. (This is what you wanted rather than having your own team, right?)
The Queen’s Birthday clash will have many eyes on it. Melbourne have been in the news for all the wrong reasons this week, their hubris finally catching up with them, compounded by two lazy losses in a row.
The Pies are full of vim and vigour after three wins in a row, the last two by less than a goal. Will they get a reality check, or will the Dees stumble further still? I’m backing the former, but it’s been a while since the Pies have lost on Queen’s Birthday – 2017 to be precise.
Richmond, Carlton, Fremantle, Brisbane, GWS, Collingwood
Week two of the bye rounds, and it remains baffling why we’ve still got to live through another week of them after this one. A solid four of six last week – the Doggies and Demons letting me down – nevertheless continues to leave me stranded behind Tim and the Crowd on the tipster’s leaderboard.
Here’s a bye week silver lining – we’ve got footy back on a Thursday. We’ll see Richmond hosting Port Adelaide tonight. Neither team played last week – although Port still lost (watch this if you don’t get the reference) – and both head in with improved form, winning four of their last five (the Tigers’ controversial loss to Sydney and Port’s loss to Geelong the exceptions).
The fact that this is at the MCG is compelling: I’m going to back the Tigers to win, stalling Port’s resurgence since its 0-5 start.
Friday’s clash, unfortunately, probably won’t live up to its prime time billing. Essendon are simply horrendous this year, and Carlton are top four material. As much as I’d love this to be a classic, it won’t be: Blues to win, probably comfortably.
Saturday has just two clashes, but fortunately they’re both pretty exciting. The Dockers – who have been phenomenal in the past fortnight – host the Hawks, before Brisbane and the Saints do battle later that night.
Freo’s coaching team will be refreshing the Bureau of Meteorology consistently before bounce down; the possibility of rain is perhaps the only thing that makes me hesitant in immediately tipping my boys. The Hawks’ pushed the Pies to the limit last week, and will no doubt be a tougher challenge than most expect, but the Dockers are capable of blowing a game apart in less than a quarter and should do that with a big crowd behind them.
A big crowd should also help the Lions against the Saints; though Brisbane’s performances have left plenty to be desired of late. I’m a fan of the Saints’ performances this year, and they’ll be keen to exploit the Lions’ midfield struggles in recent weeks. At home, and with their backs to the wall, the Lions should bounce back in a thriller.
Sunday’s only game – yawn? – is North hosting the Giants. You know it’s dire when the main focus on this clash isn’t about the football; it’s prophesising about the expectedly poor crowd.
The clash itself might surprise – these two have a history of close matches – but no matter the margin, GWS will garner the four points.
A game that won’t have any trouble finding a big crowd is the Queen’s Birthday clash between Collingwood and the Dees. Melbourne have dropped two in succession; the Pies have surged into the top eight.
The Demons would be peeved to have been forced to suspend Steven May after an off-field incident, given his importance to the side; it’s especially worrying given Collingwood’s forward prowess of late.
This is my big, big call for significant upset: Pies to win, Dees to officially open up the battle for the minor premiership with a third straight slip-up.
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|ESS vs CAR||CAR||CAR||CAR||CAR||CAR|
|FRE vs HAW||FRE||FRE||FRE||FRE||FRE|
|BL vs STK||BL||BL||BL||BL||BL|
|NM vs GWS||GWS||GWS||GWS||GWS||GWS|
|COL vs MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||COL||MEL|