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The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions, Round 6: Can the Bulldogs bounce back after a week of scrutiny?

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17th April, 2024
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After near-perfect tipping scores across the board in Round 4, the going was significantly tougher last weekend – a slew of upsets made 5 par while many of us were left scrambling to so much as earn a 50/50 split.

If anything, Round 6 promises to be even tougher, and so it has proved with our experts: five of the eight games this weekend have divided opinion, with Thursday night’s critical St Kilda-Western Bulldogs clash one of the toughest of all.

Having endured a week of heavy scrutiny, will Luke Beveridge be able to inspire his troops to a face-saving win? Or will another loss condemn the Dogs to yet more attention, and push their embattled coach ever closer to death’s doorstep?

Tim Miller

Last week: 4

Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Collingwood, GWS, Brisbane, Fremantle, Sydney, North Melbourne

I’m nothing if not a pessimist about my team, but I’ve seen this movie before. After a heavy early-season loss, a week of media scrutiny – much of it directed at Luke Beveridge – and a fear the bottom could be about to fall out, the Bulldogs steady the ship, take down an opponent not exactly going great guns themselves and maintain the status quo.

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Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Tom Liberatore are big losses, to be sure, but so is Max King for the Saints – and while I could well have caused to regret this, the Dogs seem to have better options to fill those two gaping holes. I’ll fear the worst but hope for the best in this one.

Thursday night’s crunch clash is the precursor for what is a genuinely tough round to tip – especially on Saturday.

Even the games that should be easy have some doubts about them – a West Coast outfit with confidence gradually boosting won’t be the easy kill Fremantle have enjoyed in the last two years of Derbies, while Sydney could easily be troubled by a Gold Coast outfit that, relatively speaking at least, plays the SCG very well and has had more than a few upsets there over the years.

I’ve gone for the home sides in three of the four matches pitting non-Victorian sides against Victorians. It’s toss of the coin stuff between Collingwood and Port Adelaide, but I back the Magpies on their own deck against a Port outfit with some question marks still hanging over them; Adelaide found a style that suits them in upsetting Carlton and while Essendon are in form, they’re defensively vulnerable against ball movement like that; and in the most intriguing game of the round, Brisbane showed enough of their best against Melbourne to back them in against a Geelong team that, while going swimmingly, hasn’t beaten anyone all that good yet.

For us sickos, the game of the round finishes things off – both North Melbourne and Hawthorn will know this is their best chance yet for a drought-breaking victory. But while the Hawks have been marginally better this season, I think the Roos’ ‘Northball’ attacking style might be suited well against their fellow proper battlers, and in what could be a high-scoring shootout, I’ll back Clarko’s men to get themselves on the board.

Aaron Naughton of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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Dem Panopoulos

Last week: 4

St Kilda, Adelaide, Collingwood, GWS, Brisbane, Fremantle, Sydney, North Melbourne

It took the AFL long enough to throw up one of ‘those’ rounds. It was fun and hard to tip, which is the ultimate sweet spot.

This weekend feels no different – the quality of games looks epic and the byes are nearly behind us, which is worth celebrating on the double.

Tonight’s game is huge. I wrote about the Bulldogs last week, then they produced one of their worst performances in recent memory, which has instigated an absolute pile-on. On the other hand, St Kilda nearly pulled off a miracle against GWS, and are desperate for a win – they really need to make the most of this match.

The Saints are more undermanned but are far better structured. Both teams need this win for different reasons. I think I’m leaning towards structure over personnel.

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I’m still not convinced on Port Adelaide and this is the game that will convince me either way. Collingwood’s start to the season has been a little iffy but a week off can do wonders for slow starters and they’re such a strong threat this season. The Nathan Murphy news may bring the team closer together.

To me, Port is relying on their stars too much and I want to see how they defend against quick, slick ball movement and conceding more inside 50s, as they’re allowing scores too easily once it gets in there. I’m tipping Collingwood but am completely open to changing my mind on Port’s status as a top-eight team.

Every single other game is super interesting as well, and it’s worth quickly touching on them all.

Sam Taylor missing for the Giants is enormous and is probably the only reason why the Blues, who have an increasingly frustrating injury list yet again, still have a chance. At full strength, it’s a 50/50 – in this one, it’s still a slight lean towards GWS.

Brisbane smashed Melbourne but the question marks were there on the Demons. This is a big one against the Cats; I think they can sneak over the line.

In recent years, Essendon has failed to make a statement after a strong win and travelling to Adelaide is a tough task. It won’t be anywhere near as hard for the Dockers to make a statement after multiple heartbreaking losses. They’ll win the Derby easily, continuing their three-year unbeaten run over West Coast.

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The Suns are back in the finals hunt and looking good, while the Swans are starting to welcome some stars back. Gold Coast usually plays the SCG pretty well, so there can be no taking it easy this week for the home side. Still, they should win.

Finally, there will almost certainly be one fewer winless team in the league after this round. I think the Hawks will make the jump up the ladder in the second half of the season, but North has my tip this week.

Willie Rioli.

Willie Rioli. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Cameron Rose

Last week: 5

Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, GWS, Brisbane, Fremantle, Sydney, Hawthorn.

There are a few juicy match-ups which could go either way this week.

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The Bulldogs are under the pump after a loss where they frankly laid down, which smells like a Bevo victory in the making – beware, St Kilda.

Port’s form has been better than Collingwood, but the latter are certainly an unknown coming off the bye. The effects of that disgusting Round 0 continue to have an impact.

GWS are slight underdogs against Carlton at this point of the week, but shouldn’t be and likely won’t be by game time – the Blues just have too many outs, though Sam Taylor’s absence is a concern.

Liam Salter

Last week: 5

St Kilda, Adelaide, Collingwood, GWS, Geelong, Fremantle, Sydney, Hawthorn

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Welcome to the hot seat, Luke Beveridge.

Bevo’s under fire Bulldogs kick off Round 6 against the Saints – Ross Lyon’s men have had a peculiar fortnight, and it’s difficult to be convinced of their finals credentials, but under the roof they’ll get the job done to make the Bulldogs’ position much more uncomfortable. 

Owing to their superb win last week, the Crows are more comfortable and desperate to keep the momentum going against the Bombers. At home, I’m backing them, unlike their opponents, who’ll drop one to the Pies at the ‘G up next.

Saturday twilight’s Marvel Stadium fixture is the best of the weekend. There’s been a lot of conjecture about whether the Blues are the real deal – their controversial win over the Dockers and the loss to Adelaide last weekend dent their record in some eyes – and a win here will reaffirm their legit premiership aspirations. But the Giants are legit premiership contenders, and I trust them more here. 

Tipping against Brissy at the Gabba? It gives me sweaty hands, but while they looked brilliant last week, gut feel says they might hit an obstacle and lose a thriller against the Cats. Meanwhile, though Sydney have a tendency to drop this fixture, they’ll best the Suns. 

For those who love scrappy clashes against low-ranking teams, the North-Hawthorn encounter is exciting. The final winless teams, the Roos are bookies favourites, but I’m going the Hawks. And yes, I’m nervous Freo may drop this Derby, but I ain’t tipping it – a win is all but essential here. 

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Patrick Dangerfield (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Round 6TimDemCamLiamCrowd
STK vs WBWBSTKWBSTK?
ADE vs ESSADEADEADEADE?
COL vs PACOLCOLPACOL?
CAR vs GWSGWSGWSGWSGWS?
BL vs GEEBLBLBLGEE?
WCE vs FREFREFREFREFRE?
SYD vs GCSSYDSYDSYDSYD?
NM vs HAWNMNMHAWHAW?
LAST WEEK44554
ROLLING TOTAL3033313132
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