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The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions, Round 11: Dreamtime arrives - but will the Tigers have anyone left to play?

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22nd May, 2024
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It’s Dreamtime time!

One of the best nights on the footy calendar is upon us as Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round enters its second week – but for the first time in a while, Essendon and Richmond’s battle at the MCG won’t be top billing. In fact, given the Tigers’ woes, it might be the least interesting game from a footy perspective of the weekend.

This feels like a round that lulls you into a false sense of tipping security before landing upset after upset. The Bulldogs, for example, are a live chance of toppling the white-hot Sydney on Thursday night, while Collingwood head west to face Fremantle as underdogs, which they’ll no doubt relish.

GWS’ trip to Geelong and West Coast heading to Adelaide Oval to face the Crows are also matches primed for boilovers, while Hawthorn are 4-0 over Brisbane since COVID, despite making zero finals series to the Lions’ four. Can they keep that streak going?

North Melbourne could also definitely upset Port Ade… yeah, okay, that might be pushing it too far.

Tim Miller

Last week: 7

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Sydney, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Carlton, GWS, Essendon, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide

It’s always the hope that gets you, but I’ll be heading to Marvel Stadium on Thursday night with a real sense of optimism that the Bulldogs can do what only *checks notes* – wait, RICHMOND have done this year? – and take down the Swans.

It won’t be easy – Sydney are premiership favourites for a reason, and absolutely flying at the moment – so I’m not brave enough to tip my own team, but could the Swans be due a loss?

The hardest game of the round, at least for us expert tippers, is Friday night’s clash between Fremantle and Collingwood out west. I’m exceedingly nervous about backing the Dockers, especially as I’m out on an island with the other guys tipping the Pies, but one look at the black and white injury list, as well as at Freo’s strong midfield, home ground advantage, perfectly reasonable form and Collingwood’s jailbreak win over Adelaide makes me more comfortable. And Freo are favourites after all.

Two simultaneous games starting at 1:45pm Saturday at least means we can ignore Port beating up on North Melbourne in Tassie, and instead keep an eye on what should be a fascinating Carlton-Gold Coast clash. The Blues have soft-tissue injuries everywhere, but I still back them more than I do the Suns anywhere south of the Tweed.

Geelong-GWS promises to be a ripper: the Giants have as strong a record at GMHBA Stadium as anyone, and with the Cats beginning to slow down drastically and GWS’ midfield far, far stronger, I’m going to back an upset. Hey, I’m far enough behind the others in this competition already – I need to do something.

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For the first time in ages, Dreamtime at the ‘G feels like it could be ugly. It’s such a great night for reasons outside football, but the actual game itself has been really entertaining for a while now. This won’t be – with Richmond scarcely able to field a team and the Bombers high on belief, it’s Essendon by how far.

Sunday has its share of interesting games – I’m backing Brisbane to knock over Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium despite the Hawks, and I can’t really believe this, having won four straight over the Lions dating back to Round 1, 2020. This game being at Docklands and not the MCG or in Launceston is a big reason for my confidence.

Melbourne are basically St Kilda but with a significantly better midfield – neither side are shooting the lights out at the moment, but the Saints lost this nine years ago when they chose not to pick Christian Petracca. Dees for me.

And to close out the round, I give West Coast a sneaky chance of upsetting an Izak Rankine-less Adelaide: but as good as they’ve looked at Optus Stadium in recent times, their credentials on the road are far less secure. I’m not backing them, but I wouldn’t fault you if you had more faith.

Essendon players celebrate their Dreamtime at the 'G victory over Richmond.

Essendon players celebrate their Dreamtime at the ‘G victory over Richmond. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Dem Panopoulos

Last week: 6

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Sydney, Collingwood, Port Adelaide, Carlton, Geelong, Essendon, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide

It’s the final week before we spend a month without a full set of fixtures as teams get their mid-season break.

The debate regarding whether games go on for too long has come up again and in particular, was sparked by Thursday night’s Gold Coast-Geelong game. If your argument is going to come after 41 goals have been scored, the rarest of occurrences, it might be worth keeping a bit quiet.

I doubt that will be much of an issue in Thursday night’s game, as defence is the name of the game between two in-form teams in Sydney and the Western Bulldogs. Much to the Dogs’ credit, they’ve sat up like the Undertaker after a kicking out just before the three count and pulled off a big win last week. This, though, is their biggest test, with it being the first time in a bit they’ll play an actual flag threat.

The Swans are the favourites, but their defence is still a bit undersized for the three-headed monster of Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Sam Darcy. This is genuinely hard – I’ll go Sydney just to avoid the risk of failure at the hands of Luke Beveridge.

Collingwood have worked into this season nicely and it feels their ground-level offensive game can at least be a new look to give Fremantle’s dominant defence, challenging them in a different way and getting them the victory.

Port Adelaide have played two good quarters of footy in a fortnight and sit in fourth position – it’s that sort of season. They bully terrible opponents, and will be doing the same to North Melbourne.

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At time of writing, we don’t know if Jacob Weitering is fit to play or not for Carlton against Gold Coast It’s a big swing factor, but I’ll assume he’s okay and tip the Blues to halt their losing streak because they’re simply not as bad as 10th spot.

Fascinating games continue to be played in the Saturday twilight spot, unfortunately, so eyes won’t be glued to Geelong’s date with GWS. Both have lots to prove, but I’m leaning slightly towards the home team.

The ‘less than 20 goal prediction’ for the Tigers last week was pretty accurate. We’ll go with a 40-point buffer here for the Bombers in Dreamtime at the ‘G.

Both the Hawks and the Lions have amazing recent records at Marvel Stadium, so the question is whether Hawthorn can make it five in a row against the reigning grand finalists. The suspension of Eric Hipwood probably helps Brisbane, so we’ll go them.

Finally, Melbourne to beat St Kilda, while more respect should be put on the name of the Eagles. They won’t win this one against the Crows in Adelaide, but they’ve turned the corner.

Tom Papley celebrates a goal.

Sydney’s Tom Papley. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

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Cameron Rose

Last week: 7

Sydney, Collingwood, Port Adelaide, Carlton, Geelong, Essendon, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide.

It’s impossible to tip against Sydney at the moment, and equally impossible to tip any of North, Richmond and St Kilda, while Hawthorn and West Coast look up against it this week – albeit the Hawks have a good record over the Lions.

Will they lose confidence from last week’s calamity against Port, or will it fuel their steely resolve?

Collingwood have traditionally been a good travelling team, and I think they can take Fremantle out. The Dockers have dropped two of their last three at Optus Stadium, too.

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Gold Coast look like world-beaters up in Darwin, but have put in some very ordinary performances on the road this year – they should be taking it to an undermanned Carlton this week high on confidence, but can’t be trusted.

Liam Salter

Last week: 6

Sydney, Collingwood, Port Adelaide, Carlton, Geelong, Essendon, Brisbane, Melbourne, West Coast

Are the Bulldogs back, or just remain frustratingly inconsistent? Tomorrow night’s encounter with Sydney will go a long way towards answering just that.

Except the answer’s reasonably simple: the Swans are in ominous form, and I have little-to-no faith in the Doggies.

Remaining an enigma are Fremantle, who bounced back last week but face a significantly sterner test on Friday night against Collingwood – spoiler alert, this is a ‘tip against my team but hope for the best’ kind of game. 

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The Queensland teams loved a goal (or twenty-two) last weekend, but face two disparate challenges this weekend. I’m backing the Blues in Saturday’s twilight game, but if the Suns’ midfield can match them, particularly if Carlton’s injury crisis doesn’t abate, they’re every chance of an upset. Meanwhile, the Lions will need to be wary of Hawthorn’s competitiveness – it’ll be a good sign for Sam Mitchell’s men to back up last week’s heartbreaker with a strong home performance – but have seemingly found their mojo. 

Two premiership contenders, neither having won since April, clash at GMHBA Stadium in a Saturday arvo blockbuster. The Cats are ostensibly favourites (and my tip), but this clash has given me pause: this would l be a hell of a statement for the Giants to make.

And speaking of statements, Harley Reid and 21 other blokes will visit Adelaide to take on the Crows, aiming to exploit the Crows deep inconsistency and earn a third win from six games – to hell with it, they’ll do it.

Breezing through the remainder of the weekend, Port should have no problems in Tasmania against North, despite the Kangas sticking with Essendon for a little while last weekend; it’s the Bombers by plenty and then some against the wounded Tigers in the Dreamtime clash; and while the Demons were thoroughly outgunned last week, the Saints are so uninspiringly ‘meh’ they’re impossible to tip.

Brody Mihocek

Brody Mihocek. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Round 11TimDemCamLiamCrowd
WB vs SYDSYDSYDSYDSYD?
FRE vs COLFRECOLCOLCOL?
NM vs PAPAPAPAPA?
CAR vs GCSCARCARCARCAR?
GEE vs GWSGWSGEEGEEGEE?
RCH vs ESSESSESSESSESS?
HAW vs BLBLBLBLBL?
MEL vs STKMELMELMELMEL?
ADE vs WCEADEADEADEWCE?
LAST WEEK76765
ROLLING TOTAL5257565658
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