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Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 18

The Port Adelaide and GWS clash is huge in terms of the top eight. The teams haven’t met since Round 4 last year. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Footyology’s previews with punch – Round 18

Ronny Lerner    

ST KILDA v RICHMOND (Etihad Stadium, Friday 7.50pm local time)
The Saints may have found some form of late, winning three of their last four games after managing just one victory in the opening 12 rounds, and they may have smashed the Tigers in this corresponding fixture last season by 11 goals. But it’s hard to see them causing Richmond much trouble this week, especially considering the reigning premiers are on the rebound. The Tigers are aiming for 20 consecutive wins in Melbourne and while they lose Bachar Houli again to a groin issue, they regain premiership stars Kamdyn McIntosh and Nathan Broad, so keeping the surging Eagles at bay from top spot shouldn’t be a problem.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 34 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Richmond by 38 points.

COLLINGWOOD v NORTH MELBOURNE (MCG, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
One of the games of the round as the Kangaroos attempt to stay in touch with the top eight and the Magpies aim to cling on to their spot in the top four. Was Collingwood’s loss to West Coast after seven wins in a row the new rule, or just the exception? We will find out in the final six weeks because the Pies have a pretty tough run home, starting with North Melbourne. Mason Cox is a big inclusion, in more ways than one. The Roos will be smarting from their last-gasp loss to Sydney last week, but they get a rare opportunity to play at the MCG – just their fourth game there since 2015 – so will want to make the most of it with finals now on the horizon, should they be good enough to qualify. It promises to be an arm wrestle but the Pies should prove to be a touch too strong.
RONNY’S TIP: Collingwood by 9 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Collingwood by 16 points.

SYDNEY v GOLD COAST (SCG, Saturday 2.10pm local time)
For the first time since 2012 – its second year in the competition – Gold Coast has lost 11 games in a row. It’s disturbing to witness just how far backwards the struggling expansion club has gone. The Suns are basically back to square one and the last thing they need right now is an encounter with a revitalised Sydney outfit at the SCG. Yes, the venue has not been a happy hunting ground for the Swans, who have lost four games there this year, and perhaps the Suns will be banking on some A-grade intel from coach Stuart Dew, a former Sydney assistant for years, in order to bring about their downfall ala Chris Fagan and Luke Hodge, whose intimate knowledge undoubtedly helped Brisbane beat the Hawks twice this year. While the Swans could quite easily at some stage this season lose a fifth game at the SCG for the first time since 2002, Collingwood or Hawthorn are more likely to be the reason than Gold Coast.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 62 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 50 points.

ESSENDON v FREMANTLE (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
If this game was at Optus Stadium, you’d give Fremantle half a sniff. However, the Dockers really are the Jekyll and Hyde of the AFL because the difference between their home and away form this year is cavernous. They’ve lost six of their seven road trips by an average of 55 points, with their only away win coming at the expense of lowly Carlton. The Bombers, meanwhile, are one of the competition’s form teams. Home or away, Essendon has been hard to beat since round eight. Have the Dons left their run for finals too late? Probably, but they’re still in the hunt and, after starting the year 2-6, incredibly have the chance to nudge their win-loss record into the positive for the first time since round one (1-0). The last time these two sides met at this venue, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor were doing battle in one of the biggest boxing bouts in history. Perhaps with Orazio Fantasia and David Zaharakis back in the team, Essendon could take some inspiration and deliver Fremantle’s finals chances a knockout blow.
RONNY’S TIP: Essendon by 41 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Essendon by 36 points.

BRISBANE v ADELAIDE (Gabba, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
A month ago, this assignment would’ve looked fairly straightforward for the Crows. But all of a sudden, it now looms as a serious banana skin game which could potentially dash their faint finals hopes. After starting the season 1-12, the Lions are now riding high, having won three games in a row for the first time since 2013. They’re now aiming to string four together for the first time in eight years. While Adelaide welcomes back two key players in Daniel Talia and Mitch McGovern, the Crows lose the equally important pair of Taylor Walker (suspension) and Kyle Hartigan (knee). But the Crows have won their last six meetings with the Lions by an average of 74 points and six of their last seven at the Gabba. They should be good enough to end the Lions’ mini honeymoon period.
RONNY’S TIP: Adelaide by 12 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 22 points.

GEELONG v MELBOURNE (Kardinia Park, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
The beauty about this round is that we have almost a dress rehearsal for the finals with 5 v 7 and 6 v 8. This meeting between sixth and eighth on the ladder promises to be a cracker. A loss for Melbourne and its top-four aspirations take a hit. A loss for Geelong and it will almost certainly slip out of the top eight. Unfortunately for the Demons, their injury list is growing at the wrong time of the year. They head into this meeting without Jack Viney (foot), Michael Hibberd (quad) and, of course, Jake Lever (knee). The Cats, on the other hand, finally welcome back Lachie Henderson for his first game of the year. Geelong are still missing Nakia Cockatoo (knee), Harry Taylor (foot) and Esava Ratugolea (ankle), but they certainly have the edge playing at home. In the Cats’ last 24 games there, Sydney have been the only team that has beaten them (three times). Since 1988, Melbourne has only won twice at Kardinia Park from 20 attempts and it’s hard to see the Dees bucking that trend.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 22 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 12 points.

CARLTON v HAWTHORN (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
After receiving an almighty wake-up call against Brisbane last week, luckily for the Hawks they now come up against a side reminiscent of Fitzroy in its final year. How costly will that loss to the Lions be in the long run? Potentially catastrophic. Hawthorn is now 10th on the ladder, and if there’s one thing you can guarantee about an Alastair Clarkson-coached side following a humiliating loss, it’s that they’ll come out breathing fire the following week. The Hawks’ last outing at Etihad Stadium saw them produce some of their best footy since the golden 2013-15 period against the Bulldogs, and the bottom-placed Blues, who are on track for their worst-ever season after back-to-back 11-goal losses to bottom-four teams, could be lambs to the slaughter this weekend.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 53 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Hawthorn by 56 points.

WEST COAST v WESTERN BULLDOGS (Optus Stadium, Sunday 1.20pm local time)
Life after Nic Naitanui won’t get its sternest test this weekend for the Eagles, that will be reserved for later games against North Melbourne, Port Adelaide and Melbourne. In the meantime, West Coast has an easy kill to sink its teeth into in the form of the struggling Western Bulldogs. After a brief bright patch against North Melbourne and Geelong, the Doggies have reverted to type with back-to-back thumpings against Hawthorn and Melbourne. While they welcome back Hayden Crozier and Tom Boyd, their injury list is still star-studded unfortunately. The Eagles have named Dom Sheed and Tom Barrass and after a watershed victory at the MCG over red-hot Collingwood, their charge towards top spot will hardly be interrupted by Luke Beveridge’s team.
RONNY’S TIP: West Coast by 56 points.
ROCO’S TIP: West Coast by 48 points.

PORT ADELAIDE v GWS (Adelaide Oval, Sunday 4.10pm local time)
Arguably the match of the round. Fifth v seventh with everything to play for. The Power will be kicking themselves after blowing a golden opportunity to remain in the top four by losing to Fremantle. All of a sudden, Port could slip to sixth if it loses to GWS, and the loss of Paddy Ryder (hip) does not help matters. It took the Giants half-a-season to get going, but they have finally awoken. They are on a roll, having won five of their last six games and gradually regaining key personnel along the way. This week, Brett Deledio and Matt Buntine have been named in their squad. It seems to be all coming together for the expansion club. Port Adelaide has been almost impossible to beat at Adelaide Oval this year, but the Giants are brimming with confidence following their win over Richmond and have what it takes to grab the four points.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 8 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 2 points.


  1. Pies are only 1 win from 6 attempts against teams in the current top 10* (that being Melbourne) with a percentage (for/against) of 81%. Whereas the Roos are 3 in 8, with their wins against Hawks, Swans and Giants and a percentage of 93%. And they were stayed with the Tiges for their whole game, where the Pies got blown away in the last quarter.

    So, North have played more games against top 10 teams, won more of them, and performed better. But everyone is on the Collingwood bandwagon.

    With 4 more games against current top 8 sides, and that form, Pies might struggle to make the 8.

    I might add too, that my team, the Swans, have played 10 games against the top 10 and won 6 of them. Which isn’t too bad when you consider the Tigers have won 6 out of 9.

    Though the Eagles are the form side, with 7 wins from 9 attempts against the top 10.

    Be interesting to see a ladder based on games against the top 10.

    * The current top 10 allows for those teams on equal points as the 8th places side.

  2. Well, a bit of humble Pie there. But need to see the Pies perform like that against Tiges for 4 quarters to be convinced. And given they couldn’t do it against the Eagles, Hawks, Cats, Tigers, Giants who are all top 8 contenders… still not convinced.

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