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The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions, Anzac Round: Who takes the biscuits on the season's longest weekend?

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25th April, 2024
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It’s a festival of footy as Anzac Round dawns, with matches to be played across a whopping five days in 2024’s most spread-out ‘weekend’ of action.

That’s good news for some, bad news for others – like say, those poor souls whose job it is to write something on every day AFL footy is played – and it makes for a challenge when doing a weekly expert tipping write-up, too.

So this round, we’re doing things a little differently – to give our experts enough time to mull over this weekend’s games, catch up on line-ups and make their choices, we’ll be updating this week’s tips daily with all the upcoming games.

We’ve had three games so far, and as the weekend begins in earnest, there are some more bona fide blockbusters to sink our teeth into – not least Saturday afternoon’s heavyweight bout between the undefeated Geelong and the red-hot Carlton.

Who takes the chocolates – or this week, should that be the Anzac biscuits? Let’s find out.

Tim Miller

Last week: 3

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Melbourne, Collingwood, Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Carlton, Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast, Sydney

Let’s not beat around the bush here – it’s Melbourne by how much against the Tigers.

Sure, Adem Yze’s team have played with plenty of ticker this season, but their injuries are stacking up even with Jacob Hopper returning, and even the Demons’ oft-misfiring forward line should have no issues kicking a winning score here.

Richmond’s only real hope is to try and win out in the midfield against Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and co. – which is presumably why they’ve gone for a Toby Nankervis-Sam Naismith ruck duo to go up against the monstrosity that is Max Gawn.

If they can limit the big man’s influence around the ground, and especially at follow-up stoppages, they may be able to restrict the Dees long enough to pull off the mother of all upsets. I can’t see it happening.

Anzac Day has me torn on a number of fronts; Essendon are in great form and are a more than respectable roughie option if you’re after one this week, but since 2005 they’ve made a very specific habit of winning on Anzac Day only every fourth year – 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017, 2021. That means they’re still a year overdue if they’re to keep up this streak, and I’m a sucker for random sequences like this, so I’ll be backing the Pies in this time.

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As for the night match, I can’t help feeling Brisbane are due a response after last week’s disappointing loss to Geelong. No Oscar McInerney hurts, but so too does no Toby Greene for the Giants, and at a venue where the Lions bested them last year and with Sam Taylor still out, I’ll back the visitors in for an upset to breathe life into their season, and cast still more doubts over the Giants.

There are plenty of tough games across the rest of the week, too, so to get the easy ones out of the way first: Port Adelaide should rebound against a treading-water St Kilda, Adelaide need nothing less than a thumping win over North Melbourne, Gold Coast at home might be too strong for a Harley Reid-less West Coast, and I’d be shocked if Sydney didn’t cream Hawthorn at the MCG to finish the round.

That leaves Geelong’s clash with Carlton and Fremantle taking on the Western Bulldogs; for me, the Blues have enough forward and midfield firepower to overcome a Tom Stewart-less Cats’ defence, and I think it’s a sign of great respect for Geelong that they’re favourites here despite all that.

And call me a masochist, but I’ve backed my Bulldogs to get the job done against the Dockers out west, but I’m nervous – Freo should come out spitting fire after their Derby loss, and Michael Walters has proved tough to stop for the Dogs in the past.

Rory Lobb of the Bulldogs wrestles with Fremantle players.

Rory Lobb of the Bulldogs wrestles with Fremantle players. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Dem Panopoulos

Last week: 2

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Melbourne, Collingwood, GWS, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Carlton, Fremantle, Gold Coast, Sydney

The traditional Anzac Day Eve clash is upon us once again and it’s perhaps one of the most underrated fixtures on the calendar, and certainly a joy to attend.

This clash is intriguing, not only for the narratives that surround it. For the Tigers, the concept of landing a top-three pick, if not the top pick in this draft, hasn’t felt this real for a while. They’re injury-depleted and young, and with the talent in this upcoming crop, they should lean into it.

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For the Demons, they’ve not beaten any real September (or even August) threats so far this year, and when challenged they’ve faltered. Now, welcoming back a couple of players and getting some chemistry in with Shane McAdam for the rest of the season, I think there’s untapped offensive potential that can turn the season around.

Melbourne will win this game and will do it comfortably, but watch for the pre-game, watch for the young talent and watch for some stars to return to form.

I’m not one to follow the BOM’s forecasts too closely – there have been too many washed-out games of cricket that ended up having no rain at all – but if there’s a bit of drizzle around the MCG, it certainly brings the Bombers into play.

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While a player like Darcy Parish has struggled, the likes of Sam Durham and Jye Caldwell are having breakout seasons on the inside, so it will be good to see how they perform on this stage.

The Magpies had a slow start against Port but really flexed their muscle, and again look like they’ll have another crack at the flag. The Pies to win, but a good contest to be had.

GWS without Toby Greene come up against a Lions outfit that struggled in the wet last week – this looms as a cracker. Put simply, Brisbane has to win if they still want to keep their top four hopes alive. Unfortunately, there are few opponents you’d want to come across in a must-win situation less than GWS.

The Giants lost last week and despite missing their skipper, it will really be a battle won and lost in the midfield. I’m leaning towards the hosts here.

The Saints had three games in a very short period of time, but that doesn’t excuse their horrible showing against the Bulldogs. Now they play an average Port team, but one that they have only won one of its past 13 against, at a venue they’ve won three of 16 games at.

North Melbourne are bad, Adelaide is uninspiring and Tasmania gets to see it all firsthand. I tried tipping North last week and it looked good for about eight minutes – it’s hard to support them again.

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Once more, the Saturday twilight wasteland timeslot has arguably the game of the round. The veteran Cats keep getting the job done and just quietly, how good have Tanner Bruhn and Jack Bowes been? To win this game, they simply have to stop Curnow and McKay. It’s easier said than done – the Blues were impressive last week and I think they may squeeze over the line here.

Who do we tip in the Dockers/Bulldogs clash? No, seriously, I have no idea. Fremantle got smashed by the Eagles, although I fear not enough has been spoken about how well West Coast played, more than anything else. The Bulldogs are an enigma – the coach is under pressure, they win a few games, it’s all forgotten about, until the next time they lose some games.

I’ll literally flip a coin here – it landed on Fremantle.

Sunday looks a lot more straightforward. The Suns fell apart against the Swans but their structure is suited to handling West Coast comfortably, while Sydney should be seen as flag favourites, and as such, a win against the Hawks is fitting.

Lachie Hunter and Jacob van Rooyen of the Demons celebrate a goal.

Lachie Hunter and Jacob van Rooyen of the Demons celebrate a goal. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Cameron Rose

Last week: 3

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Melbourne, Collingwood, GWS, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Carlton, Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast, Sydney

Anzac Day Eve shapes as a vast mismatch. Richmond have a patchwork quilt of a forward line against the best defence in the league, and a midfield that was obliterated by West Coast but now comes up against Gawn, Petracca, Oliver and Viney.

Yes, the Dees’ forward set-up is usually dysfunctional at best, but they’ll only need to kick 10 goals to win, and perhaps even half of that will do.

Essendon have been incredibly honest this year, apart from one bad showing against Port Adelaide in Gather Round. The Bombers’ pluck has seen them win three games as underdogs already this season, a situation which they face again here. Don’t be surprised to see them push Collingwood all the way.

Many will want to declare the Pies are ‘back’ but their form has still been nothing but patchy. You do have to side with them, but let’s see.

What a match-up Thursday night is. The Lions were so ineffective in the wet against Geelong last week, but the Giants are starting to lose some soldiers. It’s a good test for both clubs. Perhaps Brisbane need to have their backs against the wall to produce peak performance, as they did against Melbourne two weeks ago, but I’d rather trust the team in form than the one looking to find it.

Most interest is in the Cats and Blues on Saturday evening at the ‘G. Geelong have positioned themselves beautifully at 6-0, but are due for a loss, and Carlton looked sharp in the second half against GWS last week. It’s good form.

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Tom Stewart missing for the Cats will be an obvious loss, but few teams are better placed to cover the absence of an intercept marker like Chris Scott’s men. Still, there’s a slight advantage to Curnow and McKay given I think the Blues will win the midfield battle.

Josh Kelly of the Giants celebrates kicking a goal

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Liam Salter

Last week: 4

Melbourne, Collingwood, GWS, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Carlton, Fremantle, Gold Coast, Sydney

Continuing the week’s punditry theme of Anzac Day’s commercialisation jumping the shark, I’ve always felt “Anzac Eve” to be a bit of an odd commemoration.

Alas, it’s that time again, and we welcome back, from a bye, two disparate Victorian clubs in Richmond and Melbourne. Refreshed but still (very) wounded, the Tigers stagger into tonight’s clash off the back of a damaging loss against Harley Reid and co. (wouldn’t know what that’s like!), while the Dees are sitting pretty inside the eight.

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Beneficially, Adam Yze’s men will welcome back Jacob Hopper and Dylan Grimes, but I’m not optimistic they’ll be able to mount any serious challenge against Melbourne, who regain Clayton Oliver. 

The Anzac Day monopoly of the Collingwood and Essendon is no more, with the nation’s capital playing host to a (yes) more intriguing scrap later in the afternoon: the Giants hosting the Lions.

It goes without saying that Brisbane desperately needs the win – any win – and it’ll just be a bonus if they pull it out against the Giants. Much will be made of their defeat to the Blues, but it’s an aberration without pattern at the moment, and they remain an irresistible tip.

In the traditional clash, the Dons’ controversial win over Adelaide would have propelled them into lukewarm favouritism here… if the Pies hadn’t regained their mojo last Saturday. The Bombers, who have won just two of these fixtures in the past decade, are a roughie tip, but Collingwood love these moments, and the reigning premiers will get it done here. 

Friday’s Adelaide Oval encounter is very much a ‘which-Port-will-turn-up’ versus ‘which-Saints-will-turn-up’ kind of clash. When in doubt, look to history – the under-fire Saints have an awful record in Adelaide, and Port are looking to rebound after last week’s loss.

Looking for a rebound, too, are both North and the Crows. Down in Tassie, this is surely North’s moment for a win against a horrible opposition – nah, I still can’t tip them. 

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Geelong versus Carlton is easily game of the round, and it’s a ridiculously tough one to pick. Cats executives will no doubt be feigning smiles over the venue, and it’s exactly that that leans me towards the Blues, who are increasingly my subject-to-change premiership tip.

Over in the west, Freo simply must beat the Bulldogs – and vice versa. This should be a messy game; it’s Freo’s to lose.
Am I game enough to tip the Eagles for three wins in a row? Nope – at home, Gold Coast should bounce back, while the Swans should comfortably beat the Hawks.

Jack Gunston of the Hawks and Robbie Fox of the Swans

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Round 7TimDemCamLiamCrowd
RCH vs MELMELMELMELMEL?
ESS vs COLCOLCOLCOLCOL?
GWS vs BLBLGWSGWSGWS?
PA vs STKPAPAPAPA?
NM vs ADEADEADEADEADE?
GEE vs CARCARCARCARCAR?
FRE vs WBWBFREWBFRE?
GCS vs WCEGCSGCSGCSGCS?
HAW vs SYDSYDSYDSYDSYD?
LAST WEEK32344
ROLLING TOTAL3335343536
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