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Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 14

Party time for the Pies after beating Carlton in round three. Given current form, Collingwood could end up with a 20-goal tally this time. Photo: AFL MEDIA

Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 14

Ronny Lerner    

WEST COAST v ESSENDON (Optus Stadium, Thursday 6.10pm local time)
The Eagles head into a game for the first time in a long time without either of their star key forwards Josh Kennedy (leg) or Jack Darling (ankle). The pair have combined for a third of the Eagles’ goals this year so the slack will now have to be picked up by the likes of Mark LeCras, Jake Waterman, Jamie Cripps, Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan. Will the absence of Kennedy and Darling allow the Bombers to do the unthinkable and beat West Coast on their home turf? Probably not. They’ve steadied the ship somewhat in the past month after a disastrous start to the year to win three of their last four games, but it must be remembered that they too are missing key players such as Joe Daniher and David Zaharakis. At home and on the rebound after having their 10-game winning streak broken by the only side (Sydney) that has worked out how to beat them so far this year, the Eagles should make it seven wins in a row at Optus Stadium.
RONNY’S TIP: West Coast by 37 points.
ROCO’S TIP: West Coast by 22 points.

PORT ADELAIDE v MELBOURNE (Adelaide Oval, Friday 7.20pm local time)
Isn’t it refreshing to actually see a quality game scheduled for Friday night? After the Swans and Eagles played out a gripping contest last week, the match of the round once again will take place in the coveted timeslot. Port Adelaide is experiencing a resurgence of its own, having won four of its last five games including a victory against Richmond. The Power could enter the top four this week if they take another big scalp in the form of the Demons, while Simon Goodwin’s men have the opportunity to solidify their place inside the top four with a win. For those reasons, this is a massive clash. Enhancing Port’s chances of a win is the fact it could regain key defender Tom Jonas (hamstring). Melbourne was white hot prior to a Queen’s Birthday humbling at the hands of Collingwood, winning the previous six games by an average of 11 goals, but it has to be said that the Demons looked extremely vulnerable in defence without star backman Jake Lever. While I expect the Dees to eventually get used to life without Lever, in the meantime the Power are on a roll and, buoyed by the re-signing of future captain Ollie Wines, should continue on their merry way this week.
RONNY’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 21 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 6 points.

HAWTHORN v GOLD COAST (Launceston, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
The Suns might actually consider not turning up this week. They’ve now lost their last seven games in a row and their final-quarter capitulation against St Kilda last round will only serve to worsen morale at the stricken expansion club. Speaking of final quarters, they’ve only managed a grand total of two behinds in their last four. If they’re not ahead by at least six goals at three-quarter time, this one could get extremely ugly. The Hawks have only lost two of their last 33 games at their Tasmanian fortress and their charge towards another finals series will continue untroubled against the Suns.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 74 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Hawthorn by 54 points.

BRISBANE v GWS (Gabba, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
It is true that the Lions are harder to beat in Brisbane, but it’s also true that they hardly ever put up enough of a fight to secure the four points by the time the final siren sounds. Apart from their nine-goal smashing of the Hawks – their only win for the year – Chris Fagan’s men have been consistently close enough but not good enough at home. The absences of Mitch Robinson and Charlie Cameron really showed in their last outing against Essendon, too. The key pair will be missing again this week. GWS appeared to be in crisis a month ago when it lost to the Bombers at Spotless Stadium, but since then the Giants have scored impressive wins against Adelaide (away) and Gold Coast to get their season back on track. Isn’t it amazing the difference Josh Kelly makes? They’re still missing quality players Brett Deledio (calf), Toby Greene (foot), Rory Lobb (back), Tom Scully (ankle) and Zac Williams (Achilles), but they’ve got enough stars fit and available. There’s a distinct attitude shift amongst the Giants and with the top eight back within touching distance, you can expect another clinical performance from them.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 44 points.
ROCO’S TIP: GWS by 28 points.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v NORTH MELBOURNE (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
If there’s one team that would probably want the season to end it would be the Western Bulldogs. Their injury list continues to grow exponentially and their on-field performances have been sub-standard to say the least. In their last four matches – all losses by an average of 45 points – the Doggies have dished up five goalless quarters, including two against Adelaide and a goalless second half against the Magpies in pristine conditions at Etihad Stadium. On the flip side, North Melbourne has far exceeded pre-season expectations and, besides Jarrad Waite (calf) and Taylor Garner (hamstring), is close to full strength. Jed Anderson (hamstring) might return and with a spot in the top eight to protect, the Kangaroos should do a number on the desperate Doggies.
RONNY’S TIP: North Melbourne by 43 points.
ROCO’S TIP: North Melbourne by 18 points.

COLLINGWOOD v CARLTON (MCG, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
If there’s another team that would like to bring 2018 to an abrupt halt, it would be Carlton. Speaking of goalless halves, the insipid Blues dished one up last weekend against Fremantle to trail by a lazy 70 points at the major break. That’s right, the Dockers, who had lost all five of their previous road trips for the season by an average of 56 points, piled on the first 12 goals before running out comfortable 57-point victors. It was a new low for the rebuilding Blues and it’s becoming harder to see the “green shoots” of which coach Brendon Bolton routinely speaks. Things don’t get any easier for the Blues with an engagement against their red-hot arch-rivals Collingwood next up. The Magpies are playing some of the most exhilarating footy of any side at the moment. They’ve won their last four in a row and fresh from putting premiership contenders Melbourne to the sword last time out, they’d be every chance of booting 20 goals three times in a row for the first time since their 2010 premiership year.
RONNY’S TIP: Collingwood by 64 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Collingwood by 38 points.


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