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Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 15

Essendon’s Cale Hooker taunts North Melbourne youngster Daniel Nielson after a four-goal final quarter last time the teams met. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 15

Ronny Lerner    

RICHMOND v SYDNEY (Etihad Stadium, Thursday 7.20pm local time)
It’s always a special treat when the game of the round gets the prime time slot. And the contest within the contest looms as mouth-watering as the match itself with two modern day greats Lance Franklin and Alex Rance going head-to-head, bringing back memories of Carey v Jakovich from the 1990s. This clash promises to be an absolute blockbuster. First v second – you can’t ask for much more. The Swans head into this match having won their last six in a row and it must be said the Tigers have looked vulnerable away from the MCG this year, winning just one game (by 10 points) from four attempts. The venue certainly holds no fears for the Swans either, with 13 wins from their last 14 matches there. Conversely, the Tigers have won just three of their last seven at Etihad. Richmond does recall two key players in Dion Prestia and David Astbury, but the Swans regain Jarrad McVeigh and should be strong enough to topple the Tigers in unfamiliar surrounds and claim top spot in the process.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 8 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 2 points.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v GEELONG (Etihad Stadium, Friday 7.50pm local time)
The Bulldogs surprisingly defied their enormous injury list to almost upset finals contenders North Melbourne last week. But it’s hard to see them consistently producing similarly competitive performances minus eight or nine of their best players. Matt Suckling (achilles) is some chance of returning, but that’s the only good news from the medical room for the Dogs. The Cats have won seven of their last eight at Etihad Stadium and their past 11 meetings with the Bulldogs. Fresh from the bye and with the possibility of adding some, if not all, of Nakia Cockatoo, Daniel Menzel, Harry Taylor and Cam Guthrie, who have missed big chunks of footy due to injury, Geelong should get the job done and, importantly, stay in touch with the top four.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 29 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 36 points.

CARLTON v PORT ADELAIDE (MCG, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
It’s been a year to forget for the Blues and things could get a whole lot worse for them in a historical context this weekend. A loss to the Power would consign Carlton to its worst start to a year (1-13) since the VFL/AFL was formed back in 1897. The Blues’ current record worst start of 2-12 has been ‘achieved’ four times throughout their decorated history. Given the form Port Adelaide is in at the moment, having won their last three games – including victories against Richmond and Melbourne, it’s hard to see the Blues avoiding their ignominious fate. The Power don’t get too many opportunities at the MCG and, with three wins from their last four at the ground, will be keen to make a statement at the home of the finals.
RONNY’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 22 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 16 points.

ADELAIDE v WEST COAST (Adelaide Oval, Saturday 4.05pm local time)
How the mighty have fallen. Reigning minor premiers Adelaide could not have asked for a worse season coming off a grand final appearance. On the field, the Crows have been ravaged by a raft of injuries to countless key players and off the field they have been in damage control for most of the year as the fallout from their controversial ‘Collective Minds’ pre-season camp continues to fester in the background, forcing a less-than-impressive press conference to be held last weekend by coach Don Pyke and footy manager Brett Burton. As a result, the Crows’ season is in freefall. After four losses on the trot they’re 11th on the ladder and their finals hopes are hanging by a thread. In some good news, they could regain Rory Sloane, Rory Laird, Tom Lynch and Luke Brown this week. And they come up against a West Coast side that has hit its first speed bump of the year. The Eagles look far less potent without star key forwards Josh Kenendy and Jack Darling. Having copped it from all sides this week, expect Adelaide to come out firing and produce a classic ‘us-against-them’ performance.
RONNY’S TIP: Adelaide by 15 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 4 points.

GOLD COAST v COLLINGWOOD (Metricon Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
Oh boy, this one could get ugly. The Suns are plummeting to depths not seen since Fitzroy in its last few seasons and the Brisbane Bears of the early 1990s – which is ironic considering they too began life on the Gold Coast. With seven goalless quarters from their last 20, Gold Coast is a sitting duck for the Magpies who have been one of the most exhilarating sides to watch this year. Of course, Adam Treloar (hamstrings) is a massive loss for Collingwood, but excitingly Ben Reid, Jamie Elliott, Darcy Moore, Travis Varcoe and Josh Smith could all be in the selection mix. And now with a top-four spot to protect, it would be surprising if complacency crept into the Magpies’ psyche this week.
RONNY’S TIP: Collingwood by 57 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Collingwood by 38 points.

GWS v HAWTHORN (Spotless Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
The Hawks were involved in a mini “elimination final” a few weeks ago against Adelaide, and they find themselves in a similar situation this week in their crucial 9 v 10 clash with the Giants. Just as it looked like GWS was getting its season back on track, the Giants copped a hammer blow with Jeremy Cameron receiving a five-week suspension. It could quite easily derail their finals hopes such is Cameron’s importance. They now face their sternest test since losing to Essendon a month ago, and with six of their best players on the sidelines, they’re going to find it very tough to down the Hawks, despite the visitors never having won at Spotless Stadium.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 14 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Hawthorn by 12 points.

MELBOURNE v ST KILDA (MCG, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
Melbourne will win this one, but after winning six in a row by an average of 11 goals and becoming the toast of the footy community, the Demons have certainly looked vulnerable in their last two games – losses to Collingwood and Port Adelaide – without Jake Lever (knee) in defence. Lever, of course, will miss the rest of the season, but the Dees still have designs on a top-four finish. The Saints have lost their last three games at the MCG but, encouragingly, should regain Jarryn Geary after thrillingly ending their 11-game winless run against Gold Coast a fortnight ago.
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 32 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Melbourne by 26 points.

ESSENDON v NORTH MELBOURNE (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
Since drastically changing its style of play after round eight, Essendon has been one of the form teams of competition, winning four of its last five games including victories against Geelong, GWS (away) and West Coast (away). Finals have looked like a pipedream for most of the year, but the Bombers’ September hopes would generate a faint pulse if they managed to take down another finals contender in North Melbourne this week. And there’s no reason why they can’t. The Kangaroos have been very impressive this year, especially with their inside game, but the Bombers’ blistering running game is well and truly back and could cause headaches for Brad Scott’s men. This promises to be one of the games of the round and the in-form Bombers are good enough to squeak home.
RONNY’S TIP: Essendon by 9 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Essendon by 2 points.

FREMANTLE v BRISBANE LIONS (Optus Stadium, Sunday 2.40pm local time)
A sorry old year for the Lions got worse last week with star defender Harris Andrews knocked out cold in a sickening clash with Jeremy Cameron. He’ll miss at least two weeks, but you feel given the nature of the impact, it may be a longer layoff than that. In better news for Brisbane, Mitch Robinson (toe) and Dan McStay (shin) could return. But it really won’t make much of a difference to the result. The Dockers are back on track after impressive wins over Adelaide and Carlton in consecutive weeks. Their road form is flaky, but they’ve only lost one game to a non-WA side at Optus Stadium this year and that trend will surely continue this weekend.
RONNY’S TIP: Fremantle by 25 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Fremantle by 40 points.


  1. Dear Rohan I greatly enjoy your site and your reasoned and thoughtful game analysis. But as a Swans supporter can I ask you that you please stop tipping us to win?
    That is all. Thanks!

  2. Rohan Connolly

    No probs Lana, seem to remember this issue cropping up previously! My jinxing powers are remarkable!

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