Having held a share of the lead in The Roar’s expert tipping competition since day dot this year, it’s fair to say things didn’t exactly go to plan in last week’s nightmare round.
Some of it was my fault – St Kilda? Really? – while some was just plain bad luck – the worst thing Tom Stewart did this week was ruin my tipping, honestly – but however you shake it, I’m now two behind The Crowd in the race, really calling into question whether we can still call this ‘expert’ tipping.
Even worse, I’m SIX behind my sister in our family tipping competition. In the spirit of Stranger Things‘ second half of Season 4 dropping this weekend (spoilers ahead), it’s only fair to say that if I only could, I’d make a deal with God, and I’d get him to swap our places.
I’ve been looking to cram a Stranger Things reference in here for weeks. Let me have this.
It’s a much simpler round this week, but there are still plenty of hoops to jump through before a perfect 9 can even be considered. Let’s take a look.
Brisbane, Carlton, Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Collingwood, Richmond, GWS, Fremantle
After last week’s ‘Finals Round’, with all top-eight sides playing one another, this week kicks off with the one and only repeat – Brisbane hosting the Western Bulldogs on Thursday night.
Since the Lions sucked, the Bulldogs have only won once up at the Gabba. However, that was the semi-final just last year. But the Dogs have some big names out from that clash – Bailey Smith, Caleb Daniel, Taylor Duryea and Tim English chief among them – while the Lions welcome back Dayne Zorko and Zac Bailey from the side that was humbled by Melbourne last week.
It pains me to do it, but for the second time in a month, I’m tipping against my Dogs. *shudders*
Beyond that, seven of the remaining eight games this round are quite straightforward – a blessing after last week’s brutal run. You just couldn’t give St Kilda much of a chance in knocking over a red-hot Carlton – I made the mistake of backing them to bounce back last week, and it was painful.
Essendon and Sydney seem to have only dealt in close games in recent years, with the Swans winning them via some form of controversy, be it a missed holding the ball or goal-post shake.
However, it’s the first time since 2019 they’ve played in Melbourne – the last time, the Bombers got up. But the way 2022 is going, you’d be a brave soul to tip the same result. And that I most certainly am not.
The Crows famously knocked over the Demons at the Adelaide Oval last year, but that was the start of a rocky period for the Dees. They seem to have just emerged from that this time around, so it’s Melbourne by how many in this one for mine.
Surely only Geelong supporters and North Melbourne masochists will be tuning in for the far lesser of the two Saturday night matches. The Cats will go through the motions, try and find a way to compensate for Tom Stewart in defence, and still take care of the Roos quite comfortably.
The other match, though, is legitimately fascinating. Gold Coast have been one of the stories of the year, have been wonderful at home especially, and face a Collingwood outfit running hot with five wins in a row.
Fair to say it’s probably the biggest match at Metricon Stadium (involving Gold Coast – none of this 2020 COVID year nonsense) since Gary Ablett’s shoulder went bung eight years ago. I’m backing the Pies, but fully expect to have to eat humble… well, you know.
West Coast are improved, but not enough to take on a smarting Richmond at home – out of curiosity, what’s with the 2:10pm start time? It means a sizeable overlap for GWS’ clash with Hawthorn, for which I’m expecting the Giants to hold firm at home, but not without a substantial scare.
Finally, Port Adelaide have improved significantly since their 0-5 start, but beating premiership contenders on their own turf is a tough ask. The Dockers have to respond from last week’s loss to Carlton, and I fully expect they will.
Brisbane, Carlton, Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Gold Coast, Richmond, GWS, Fremantle
I’m picturing the opening to a Simpsons episode with me as Bart, scribbling “last week never happened, last week never happened.”
There were only a couple of games that ended up living up to the billing, too – a real slap in the face for anyone who sat down to watch all nine contests with high hopes.
Despite this, we move on.
As predicted, the Lions aren’t up to the level. Yet, despite a comfortable win over Hawthorn, the Bulldogs are unconvincing too.
Brisbane’s record at the Gabba should help them win this contest relatively easily, and I’m sure there’ll be a reaction to the Bulldogs as a result of last week’s loss to Melbourne.
Man, those Blues were impressive against Fremantle. They’re holding up swimmingly without much help for Lewis Young in defence, and will now contend with a typically disappointing Saints team looking to send a message.
This will be close, but I’m sticking with Carlton.
The Bombers should have beaten the Eagles but they didn’t; while the Swans did the work they
desperately needed to do against St Kilda. I think this match might be closer than many think and will be fun to tune into.
Melbourne beats Adelaide because they can’t lose over there to the lowly Crows. Clayton Oliver is looking for his third 200+ SuperCoach score against the opposition, too – go ahead, name him captain and thank me later.
The ghost of Tom Stewart against the ghost of the North Melbourne Football Club. That’s Saturday night footy folks.
Then, in what should be the game of the round, two extremely attacking teams fight it out on the Gold Coast.
Both teams were super impressive last week, despite only Collingwood getting a positive result out of it. It’s expected to be a wet game, which should favour the incredible pressure of the Suns’ midfield. We’ll lean towards them in this instance.
The Tigers look like a genuine finals contender, particularly after that showing against the Cats. You’d expect they can handle West Coast, even a vastly improved West Coast, with relative ease.
GWS and Hawthorn is certainly an interesting match. The Giants aren’t getting wins, but at least they’re playing appealing footy with a bit of spark and have tried to throw things around. The Hawks are relatively competitive but don’t necessarily want to want to win that many games with a quality draft coming up.
Giants to finally get reward for effort.
Finally, it’s the Dockers needing to get back to good footy against a Power team that has its moments and has shown a bit of grit with games on the line.
Again, tipping the underdog would be another example of people overreacting to immediate results. Fremantle is still a flag contender and they will win here.
Brisbane, Carlton, Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Gold Coast, Richmond, GWS, Fremantle
We’ve got a bit of a let-down this week, after such a build-up to Round 15.
There’s only one game between two teams currently in the eight, and it kicks us off on Thursday night.
Brisbane got put back in their place last week, by a brutal performance from Melbourne. Does it dent their confidence, or give them inspiration for the level they need to reach?
The Dogs have come out firing post-bye, kicking goals and taking names. Will the two most attacking teams around give us a shoot-out? Let’s hope so.
I’m trusting Brisbane to bounce back at home, but it’s going to be fun either way.
St Kilda’s season is on life support, and I fully expect Carlton to euthanise them on Friday night. I trust everything the Blues are trying to do, and I can’t trust anything the Saints are producing.
On Saturday, Sydney will beat the hapless Essendon, Melbourne won’t take Adelaide lightly but won’t be as fierce as they were against the Lions.
Then, Geelong will probably win ugly against North, but should be looking for a percentage boost at the Cattery.
Match of the day is Gold Coast hosting Collingwood at Metricon – two teams vying for the bottom reaches of the eight. I reckon the Suns will take this one out, putting a stop to the Pies’ five-game winning run.
Richmond should beat West Coast, who are looking to make a nuisance of themselves in the next two months with a full side at their disposal. GWS at home against Hawthorn should be enough to get them over the line, too.
Sunday twilight is poised to deliver – Port keep playing elimination finals at the moment, and Freo once again have to prove themselves after putting in a weak effort against Carlton.
You’d think the Dockers will be professional enough, but I won’t be putting a dollar on it.
Brisbane, Carlton, Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Collingwood, Richmond, Hawthorn, Fremantle
Most – not all, but most – of my 50/50 tips went against me last week, leaving me stranded with a very average five from nine.
And that’s not even mentioning Freo, who pulled off a classic Dockery performance against the Blues and prevented me from boasting to my Blues fan friends. Grr.
Making the loss a little less embarrassing for Fremantle was the fact a fellow top-four competitor – Brisbane – suffered an arguably poorer loss. The Lions are back in primetime, hosting the Doggies tonight. A massive pro for the home side is just that – the fact they’re at the Gabba, where they’ve won 15 of their last 16 matches.
Neither are bastions of consistency, but Brisbane are simply a better side than the Dogs and will prevail.
A few weeks back, Friday’s fixture would’ve enthralled. Now I’m left deeply worried about both how far the Saints have fallen – they begin the round in 10th – and how Carlton are fielding a side with some semblance of a defensive unit.
There’s no question, even sans defence, that the Blues are in stronger form, and they’ll win a messy contest. Cue the crisis at Moorabbin to deepen.
Two clashes on Saturday are pretty much forgone conclusions, and one more could well prove to be as well.
The easy duo: Geelong should thrash North, while Essendon is uniquely bad this year and don’t stand much of a chance against a Swans outfit desperate for a buffer in the eight.
The third? Call me clinically insane, but there will be something simultaneously astonishing and deeply predictable about a Crows upset of the Demons. I mean, it’s happened before at this ground – Round 10, last year.
But that Adelaide side is not this year’s, and that Melbourne team hadn’t just stamped its mark on the competition by thrashing Brisbane. The reigning premiers will win.
In a rare national free-to-air slot, the Suns host Collingwood. The Suns blew a valuable chance to get a step closer to finals last weekend, and now have to contend with two powerful Victorian clubs visiting Metricon this fortnight.
The Pies are the first of those and are in superb form, but nobody should be underestimating the Suns. Logic – and recent history – lean me towards the Pies, but this is arguably the toughest pick of the round.
Perhaps the most interesting of Sunday’s games is Port visiting the Dockers. The Power’s brilliant win against the Suns keeps the finals door well open, and given they’ve won seven of their last nine games, are in as good form as anybody.
The Dockers struggled across the ground last week, but their flat midfield was the worst culprit against a superb Carlton. At home, you’d expect to see an improved effort, and I’ll warily back them (confidence in my side is a rollercoaster).
Finishing off the week on Sunday, West Coast are a better side than they have been and earned win number two against the Bombers last week; but Richmond are vastly stronger and should win easily.
Meanwhile, both the Giants and Hawks are better than their ladder positions suggest – flip a coin with this one, for real, but gut feel says the Hawks.
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|CAR vs STK||CAR||CAR||CAR||CAR||CAR|
|ESS vs SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|ADE vs MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL|
|GEE vs NM||GEE||GEE||GEE||GEE||GEE|
|GCS vs COL||COL||GCS||GCS||COL||GCS|
|RCH vs WCE||RCH||RCH||RCH||RCH||RCH|
|GWS vs HAW||GWS||GWS||GWS||HAW||GWS|
|FRE vs PA||FRE||FRE||FRE||FRE||FRE|