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Previews with punch – Round 10

Melbourne’s Jayden Hunt streaks away during the clash with Adelaide in Darwin last year. This time they meet in Alice Springs. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Previews with punch – Round 10

Ronny Lerner    

COLLINGWOOD v WESTERN BULLDOGS (Etihad Stadium, Friday 7.50pm local time)
The result of this match could have big implications for both sides’ finals aspirations. Collingwood (5-4) and the Western Bulldogs (4-5) are 10th and 13th on the ladder respectively. Historically speaking, being outside the top eight at this stage of the year isn’t a good omen, and the losers’ September hopes could be severely dented on Friday night. Both teams have had well-documented injury issues all season, but the Magpies welcome back Ben Reid and Levi Greenwood, who will probably get the job on ball magnet Jack Macrae, while the Doggies bring back Tory Dickson and name former Lion Josh Schache for his first game for the club. The Bulldogs are currently enjoying their best winning streak (five games) against Collingwood since 1946, but with Scott Pendlebury and Jordan De Goey in red hot form for the Pies, that should come to an end this weekend.
RONNY’S TIP: Collingwood by 21 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Collingwood by 6 points.

RICHMOND v ST KILDA (MCG, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
The Saints might be enduring yet another stinker of a season, but one thing you can’t accuse them of is lack of effort. Once again they had a real crack against Collingwood last week, but it was a familiar tale as that lack of polish cost them dearly in the end. With just one win to their credit, it’s hard to see where their next victory is going to come from – and it sure as hell ain’t going to come this weekend! Richmond will be seething after a rare poor performance against West Coast in Perth last week. On the rebound, and back in familiar surrounds at the MCG where they are enjoying a club-record 13-game winning streak, the Tigers should emphatically return to the winners’ list.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 57 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Richmond by 42 points.

BRISBANE v SYDNEY (Gabba, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
This has “danger game” written all over it for the Swans. After months of chipping away, the Lions finally broke through for their first win of the year last week with a commanding 56-point smashing of Hawthorn, who were in the top four only a fortnight ago! Their form at the Gabba has been good this year with hard-fought losses to Melbourne, Gold Coast and Collingwood in their other three games there. They seem to play a lot more confidently on their home deck and of all the bottom-four teams, they clearly look the most dangerous right now. To have the luxury of naming an unchanged line-up would further boost morale, especially after a difficult few days in the wake of Dayne Beams relinquishing the captaincy for personal reasons. The Swans have suffered a shock injury blow with star defender Callum Mills breaking his foot in a freak accident and not expected to play any further part in the season. Sydney should be good enough ultimately, but the Swans had better be switched on from the get-go otherwise the Lions could win consecutive games for the first time since 2015.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 11 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 22 points.

GEELONG v CARLTON (GMHBA Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
If Richmond is the last team you’d want to face on the rebound, then Geelong wouldn’t be too far behind. After stinking it up supremely against struggling Essendon last week, the Cats will be desperate to atone and put in the type of performance that had the football world singing their praises as a premiership contender only a week ago. Poor old Carlton. They just cannot buy a trick. After suffering their worst-ever loss to Melbourne (109 points), they couldn’t have picked a worse time to travel down the highway for their first game at the Cattery since 1997. Geelong will come out breathing fire in front of its home fans and will do its best to inflict a second 100-point loss on the Blues in a row.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong 72 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 54 points.

GWS v ESSENDON (Spotless Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
What a huge match this has become all of a sudden. The season is arguably on the line for both teams. The 11th-placed Giants (4-4-1) will attempt to arrest their worrying slide down the ladder after suffering three losses in a row for the first time since 2015, while the 14th-placed Bombers (3-6) will be hoping their out-of-the-box performance against Geelong last week is the turning point for what has been a horrible 2018 campaign to date. Josh Kelly, Jon Patton and Matt Buntine return to bolster GWS’s line-up, and youngster Andrew McGrath is a welcome inclusion for Essendon. This promises to be a tight affair, and while the Giants have been in poor form, they’re more trustworthy than the Bombers at this stage. Leon Cameron’s men have lost back-to-back games at Spotless Stadium only once since 2014 and should rebound.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 17 points.
ROCO’S TIP: GWS by 6 points.

HAWTHORN v WEST COAST (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
Can the high-flying Eagles keep up their winning ways? It’s hard to argue against it at the moment. They’ve just made minced meat of premiership favourites Richmond and have three of the (currently) best players in the league featuring on every line – Jeremy McGovern, Nic Naitanui and Jack Darling. What a story they have been, and are now aiming to win nine games in a row for the first time since 2006-07 after hardly anyone expected them to make the finals. And the venue certainly doesn’t hold fears for them either given they are running at a better-than-50-percent winning rate in their last 26 games there. It’s hard to get a gauge on Hawthorn. Two weeks ago, the Hawks were sitting pretty in the top four with a 5-2 record, but losses to Sydney and the Lions have turfed them out of the top eight. Jaeger O’Meara and James Frawley have been named in their 26-man squad, as has Jon Ceglar for what could be his first game since 2016 and a sign that Alastair Clarkson thinks Ben McEvoy needs extra help to combat Naitanui and Scott Lycett. However, the Eagles are just running too hot at the moment and it’s hard to see them being stopped anytime soon.
RONNY’S TIP: West Coast by 10 points.
ROCO’S TIP: West Coast by 16 points.

MELBOURNE v ADELAIDE (Traeger Park, Sunday 2.50pm local time)
It’s the match of the round and won’t the AFL be rapt that it is being staged in Alice Springs. This is arguably the biggest game to ever take place in the Top End – two top-four teams locked on 6-3 and separated by just 1.6 per cent. The third-placed Demons are running hot, winning their last four games by an average of 63 points, and the fourth-placed Crows have won four of their last five games – their only blemish in that period a thrilling five-point loss to Port Adelaide. The Dees have added some quality to their squad of 26 with Dom Tyson, Jayden Hunt, Cam Pedersen and Jeff Garlett all included, while the Crows’ ins feature Matt Crouch and Luke Brown. However, Adelaide is still missing Rory Sloane (foot), Taylor Walker (glute/back), Brad Crouch (groin), Mitch McGovern (ankle), Brodie Smith (knee) and Riley Knight (hamstring), while Melbourne is just about full-strength. That factor, coupled with the Demons’ new-found potency in attack (ranked No.1 in the league), will see the Dees make it five wins in a row for the first time since 2006.
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 27 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 2 points.

FREMANTLE v NORTH MELBOURNE (Optus Stadium, Sunday 2.40pm local time)
The Dockers are a genuine Jekyll-and-Hyde team this year. All four of their wins have come at Optus Stadium and have been achieved by an average margin of 32 points. Meanwhile, four of their five losses have occurred away from their home ground by an average margin of 54 points. They certainly are a different team in WA. Even though North Melbourne has been one of the best sides to watch so far in 2018 with the likes of Ben Brown, Jarrad Waite, Ben Cunnington, Shaun Higgins and Jack Ziebell all firing, the return of Stephen Hill will further boost Freo and should be enough to see it square their ledger at 5-5 and make up for yet another pitiful road performance against Sydney at the SCG last week.
RONNY’S TIP: Fremantle by 12 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Fremantle by 8 points.


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