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Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 17

GWS celebrates its last-gasp win over Richmond last year. Jeremy Cameron (centre), who kicked the sealer, won’t be there this time. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 17

Ronny Lerner    

ADELAIDE v GEELONG (Adelaide Oval, Thursday 7.20pm local time)
What a way to kick off the round. The Crows are attempting to keep their faint top-eight hopes alive, although many believe they can no longer make the finals, while the Cats need to win or they could slip to 10th spot. And you get the sense the gravity of the situation is not lost on Adelaide with big guns Eddie Betts, Rory Atkins and Riley Knight all welcomed back. Richard Douglas (ankle) is a big loss, but the Cats lose Harry Taylor again to a foot complaint. Geelong finally recalls Dan Menzel after his bizarre groin injury. Geelong was impressive last week against Sydney, but back-to-back road trips might count against them in the end and the massive, and unexpected, news of Rory Sloane’s re-signing could Adelaide the boost it needs to grab the win.
RONNY’S TIP: Adelaide by 9 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 2 points.

ST KILDA v CARLTON (Etihad Stadium, Friday 7.50pm local time)
The less said about this game the better. The AFL has had some Friday night howlers this year, but this one takes the cake. How two teams with four wins between them after 16 rounds could find themselves in the most coveted timeslot of the round will go down as a bigger mystery than why the Nazca Lines were created. Carlton and St Kilda will be hoping to regain star defenders Kade Simpson and Jake Carlisle respectively, but the Saints will be without the luckless Paddy McCartin (toe) and Blues’ ruckman Andrew Phillips (hamstring) has been ruled out for the year. Carlton has been downright embarrassing of late while the Saints have been in reasonable form, so Alan Richardson’s men should be able to extend the Blues’ worst ever start to a season to 1-15.
RONNY’S TIP: St Kilda by 16 points.
ROCO’S TIP: St Kilda by 28 points.

HAWTHORN v BRISBANE (Launceston, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
Fresh from scoring consecutive wins for the first time in three-and-a-half years, the Lions are rightfully cock-a-hoop. And they’ll also surely take great confidence from the fact that they smashed the Hawks by nine goals earlier this year. Brisbane hasn’t beaten Hawthorn twice in a year since 2006, but the Lions probably won’t repeat the dose on Saturday. After winning four of their last five games, the Hawks are back in the top eight and last weekend showed glimpses of their 2013-15 best with a breathtaking second half against the Bulldogs. Hawthorn has the chance to ascend to fifth spot this week and while Ben McEvoy (cheekbone) is a big loss, it should have few problems taking care of the Lions at a ground where it has lost just two of its last 34 games.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 35 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Hawthorn by 42 points.

MELBOURNE v WESTERN BULLDOGS (MCG, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
After two-and-a-half very impressive games, the Bulldogs returned to their usual 2018 selves in the second half against Hawthorn with a terrible display. Compounding things for the 5-10 Dogs is the loss of Marcus Bontempelli (appendix). While they should regain Jack Macrae (hamstring), their injury list is still massive. Following a bumpy three weeks, the Dees righted the ship somewhat against the Dockers last week to get their faltering campaign back on course. A win this week could see them rise to fifth spot. They’re just about at full strength, Jake Lever (knee) aside, and should be too strong for the Dogs.
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 29 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Melbourne by 16 points.

GOLD COAST v ESSENDON (Metricon Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
Essendon’s strong form continued last week with a gallant loss to red-hot Collingwood playing a man down (Patrick Ambrose) for most of the game. The Bombers’ next assignment really should pose them no problems despite the losses of key players Jake Stringer (calf) and Ambrose (hamstring). The Bombers are hopeful Orazio Fantasia (groin) will return and after his best-on-ground performance in his last outing against North Melbourne, he would be a huge inclusion. The Suns are just counting down the days until their “Mad Monday”, having lost their last 10 games and bringing back memories of their formative years, while Essendon will be keen to keep its very faint finals hopes alive.
RONNY’S TIP: Essendon by 42 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Essendon by 40 points.

GWS v RICHMOND (Spotless Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
This promises to be one of the more intriguing match-ups of the weekend. Richmond’s overall form is undoubted, but all three of the Tigers’ losses have come interstate. It’s almost as if they disregard road trips given they know they will finish top two and almost certainly play all their finals at the MCG, where they have won a record-equalling 17 games in a row. Having said that, Saturday night presents a great chance for the Tigers to finally get on the board outside of Victoria given the Giants’ twin towers up forward – Jeremy Cameron (suspension) and Jon Patton (knee) – will be missing. However, GWS will be hoping that Toby Greene (foot), Brett Deledio (calf) and Jacob Hopper (calf) can all return. For the first time in a while the Tigers are feeling the heat in the medical room with Nathan Broad (cheekbone), Jack Graham (shoulder) and Dan Butler (ankle) all ruled out. But Bachar Houli (groin) and Nick Vlastuin (suspension) are available. If this game is half as good as the last time these two sides met at this venue, when the Giants scored a memorable last-gasp win in 2017, we are in for a treat. The Giants need a win to stay in touch with the top eight and that just might be the deciding factor in this contest.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 1 point.
ROCO’S TIP: Richmond by 20 points.

COLLINGWOOD v WEST COAST (MCG, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
How this game is on at 1.10 on a Sunday and St Kilda-Carlton is on Friday night, I will never know. But enough about the AFL fixturing for one week. This game will be hard to beat for match of the round status – second v third with top-four hopes potentially on the line. How good have the Pies been? They’ve now won seven in a row for the first time since 2012 and have done so with arguably the worst injury list in the league. And the Eagles did a great job of arresting their form slump with a gutsy victory over GWS last week. Collingwood’s horrid luck may have got even worse with Will Hoskin-Elliott (knee/shin) and Flynn Appleby (hamstring) both appearing to hurt themselves against Essendon. Conversely, West Coast could welcome back some, if not all, of Jack Darling (ankle), Josh Kennedy (knee), Mark LeCras (wrist) and Tom Barrass (back). Much has been made of the Eagles’ ordinary form at the MCG and rightfully so given they’ve only won seven of 25 games there since 2006. It’s about time the Eagles took a big scalp at the home of football and a win over Collingwood would not only be their biggest win there since the 2006 grand final, but also crucial for their psyche with finals just around the corner. However, it’s just too hard to go past the Magpies right now.
RONNY’S TIP: Collingwood by 15 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Collingwood by 12 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE v SYDNEY (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
A couple of weeks ago, Sydney was being touted as the best chance to stop Richmond from winning back-to-back flags. Now, all of a sudden, some are suggesting it’ll struggle to even make the finals! While that might be a little bit alarmist, the worries are genuine now that its depth is set for a big test with Jarrad McVeigh (collarbone), Dan Hannebery (calf), Sam Reid (achilles) and Lewis Melican (hamstring) all set for extended periods on the sidelines. Kieren Jack (knee) is no certainty this week either. With Callum Mills (foot) and Sam Naismith (knee) out for the year too, coach John Longmire may have had the odd sleepless night this week. Something that will put his mind at ease is the fact that Isaac Heeney (concussion), Tom Papley (hip) and Gary Rohan (hamstring) are all expected to return. With just one game separating Sydney (fifth) and North (ninth), this is a massive clash. Incredibly, a loss could see the Swans slip outside the top eight, so the stakes are huge. Sydney has a fantastic record at this venue, with 14 wins from its last 16 attempts, but North Melbourne appears more settled and is more than capable of taking on the Swans at the coal face in the contested situation.
RONNY’S TIP: North Melbourne by 8 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 16 points.

FREMANTLE v PORT ADELAIDE (Optus Stadium, Sunday 2.40pm local time)
The Dockers’ performance last week had all the hallmarks of a side that has the cue in the rack. When you give up 50 more inside 50s to the opposition as they did to Melbourne, something is seriously wrong. The absence of Nat Fyfe (hamstring) and Aaron Sandilands (calf) was keenly felt, and while Freo has been a lot tougher to beat at home this year, the Power have won three of their last six trips to Perth and, with serious momentum behind them now with five wins on the trot, should be able to brush aside the Dockers challenge.
RONNY’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 25 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 36 points.


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