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Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 16

Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom celebrates another goal during the Pies’ convincing Anzac Day win over Essendon in round 5. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 16

Ronny Lerner    

SYDNEY v GEELONG (SCG, Thursday 7.20pm local time)
Things are starting to get urgent for Geelong. The Cats are hanging on to a spot in the top eight by a thread and a third consecutive loss this week will almost certainly see them tumble out. And it doesn’t get easier, facing a Sydney outfit on the rebound at the SCG. Yes, the ground hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground for the Swans in 2018, but they’re in much better form than Geelong, having won six in a row before losing to Richmond last week. The Cats have more to play for than the fourth-placed Swans, but fresh from a shock loss to the Western Bulldogs, it’s hard to see Chris Scott’s men leaving the Harbour City with the four points.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 13 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 10 points.

RICHMOND v ADELAIDE (MCG, Friday 7.50pm local time)
Adelaide was heroic last week against West Coast. The Crows’ season appeared shot to ribbons late in the third quarter, but captain Taylor Walker led a remarkable recovery to help seal a crucial victory and keep them alive – for now. But unfortunately, they face the toughest assignment in football this week – Richmond at the MCG. The Tigers are gunning for a record-equalling 17th consecutive win at the ground and it’s almost impossible to see them failing in their quest. Sitting on top of the ladder, they are clearly the team to beat again this year and back on their home deck in familiar surrounds, Richmond should produce a similar result to the last time these two sides met at this ground on a reasonably big occasion.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 39 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Richmond by 28 points.

BRISBANE v CARLTON (Gabba, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
It’s been three-and-a-half seasons since Brisbane won consecutive games, but the Lions now have a gilt-edged chance to finally achieve a feat that the vast majority of other clubs take for granted. In fact, the Lions and Blues are the only two teams not to win back-to-back games this year, and a positive result for Brisbane would ensure Carlton was the new owner of the longest drought with regards to consecutive wins. A loss for the Blues would also make them unbackable favourites for yet another wooden spoon. Fresh from recording their worst ever start to a season (1-13), the misery looks set to continue for Carlton as it faces a bubbly Brisbane outfit full of confidence following a shock nine-goal thumping of Fremantle.
RONNY’S TIP: Brisbane by 25 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Brisbane by 16 points.

PORT ADELAIDE v ST KILDA (Adelaide Oval, Saturday 4.05pm local time)
After going winless for 11 rounds, the Saints have surprised most by winning their last two games, including a stunning upset of Melbourne last week. But can Alan Richardson’s men continue the momentum rolling into this weekend? Unlikely. The Power are building nicely, winning four in a row for the first time since early 2016. They’re very tough to beat at Adelaide Oval too, with six wins from seven there this year, and victory over the Saints could see them break into the top four with seven weeks remaining. They’ve got it all to play for.
RONNY’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 32 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 42 points.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v HAWTHORN (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
All of a sudden this is a game! Three weeks ago, tipsters would have been looking ahead to this fixture and pencilling in the Hawks already. But how quickly things change. Inexplicably, the Dogs have rediscovered their manic 2016-style pressure – with half their side missing, too! They pushed North Melbourne to within a couple of points in round 14 and caused a huge upset by downing Geelong last week. Can they repeat the dose against the Hawks? Why not? But when you look at their injury list, it is counterintuitive to tip them, despite how impressive they’ve been recently. This is a massive match for the Hawks, who simply must win to keep in touch with the top eight. If they regain Jack Gunston, that would be a massive boost. It will be interesting to see what kind of emotional effect, if any, Cyril Rioli’s retirement announcement will have on them this week, too.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 16 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Hawthorn by 8 points.

MELBOURNE v FREMANTLE (TIO Stadium, Saturday 7.10pm local time)
The Demons are another example of how quickly a rooster can turn into a feather duster. Three weeks ago, finals seemed like a fait accompli for this success-starved club. But now, after three losses in a row, their dream of ending their 12-year September drought is in serious jeopardy. They now must travel up to the Top End to get their spluttering campaign back on track. If they can’t beat the Dockers without Nat Fyfe (hamstring) and Aaron Sandilands (calf), then they probably don’t deserve a top-eight spot anyway. Expect Max Gawn to have a field day in Sandilands’ absence.
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 22 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Melbourne by 34 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE v GOLD COAST (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
North Melbourne may have slipped outside the top eight after its thrilling loss to Essendon last week, but the Roos will be relieved to know that they’re a great chance of returning this week. The Suns will provide the perfect easy kill rebound for North Melbourne, whose quest for a finals berth, which seemed unthinkable in the pre-season, continues in earnest. If the Cats, Demons or Giants lose, the Kangas are back in the eight. Gold Coast has now lost nine on the trot and it would take a minor miracle for the Suns to avoid double digits this weekend as their journey towards the footy abyss continues.
RONNY’S TIP: North Melbourne by 59 points.
ROCO’S TIP: North Melbourne by 52 points.

ESSENDON v COLLINGWOOD (MCG, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
It’s strange to describe a meeting between second and 12th on the ladder as the game of the round, but that’s exactly what this is. Two of the most in-form teams in the competition will battle it out in front of 70,000-plus fans at the MCG. The Bombers have won five of their last six games after a disastrous start to the year while the Magpies have claimed victories in each of their last six matches to rocket up the ladder. Both teams are quick, so the forecast wet conditions might put the brakes on them somewhat. But it still promises to be a cracking encounter with Collingwood aiming to hang onto its top two spot and Essendon out to stay in touch with the top eight. The losses of Adam Treloar and Lynden Dunn in consecutive weeks are huge blows for the Magpies on top of their already hefty injury list. Nathan Buckley’s men have been great in recent weeks, but the Bombers’ revamped game plan has worked brilliantly against stronger opposition and could hold them in good stead once again.
RONNY’S TIP: Essendon by 11 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Essendon by 2 points.

WEST COAST v GWS (Optus Stadium, Sunday 2.40pm local time)
Things just go from bad to worse for the Eagles. Not only are they missing their top three goalkickers for another week in Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Mark LeCras, but now another attacking option in Liam Ryan has also been ruled out after his mysterious car crash over the weekend. It’s no surprise that the Eagles have lost their last three games after winning 10 in a row given that backdrop, and they appear to be sitting ducks for the rejuvenated Giants who have built up a head of steam with four consecutive wins. The Bombers showed recently that the Eagles are vulnerable even at their Perth fortress without their big guns and GWS are more than capable of achieving similar success this week.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 17 points.
ROCO’S TIP: West Coast by 6 points.


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