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Previews with punch – Round 11

Richmond players celebrate as the final siren heralds a 15-point win in last years Dreamtime Game against Essendon at the MCG. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Previews with punch – Round 11

Ronny Lerner    

SYDNEY v CARLTON (SCG, Friday 7.50pm local time)
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, Carlton is scheduled for another Friday night game this week – the third one of the year with another one still to come. And that’s not including the Blues’ Thursday night prime time season opener against Richmond! Yes, the bottom-of-the-ladder Blues find themselves under the national gaze yet again for reasons only the AFL can explain, and it could very well be another stinker. Carlton proved last week against Geelong that it can be a hard nut to crack, but a week earlier against Melbourne the Blues also showed they’re capable of getting smashed. Carlton have lost their last five at the SCG and won only one game at the venue since 1993. Memories of their last match there, when Lance Franklin piled on 10 goals in round 23 last year, are still fresh in the mind. If Sydney’s midfield dominates like it did on that occasion, Liam Jones and co. will have their work cut out for them yet again.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 41 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 48 points.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v MELBOURNE (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
You’d be hard pressed to pick two sides right now that have more contrasting form lines. On one hand, the Bulldogs have kicked just 10 goals in their past two games, including a two-goal game against Adelaide and a goalless half against Collingwood. On the other hand, you’ve got Melbourne, just obliterating any team that crosses its path. For the first time since 2006, the Demons have won five games in a row and have done so by an average of 69 points. They’ve kicked 20-plus goals in each of the last three weeks and have booted 48.17 in the past two rounds at a gobsmacking accuracy of 74 per cent. The Dees are at full strength, brimming with confidence, scoring with ease and should win six on the trot for the first time since 2004. The Dogs might not win, but it will be a real treat to see their modern-day warrior Dale Morris play his first game of 2018 after overcoming a serious knee injury.
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 52 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Melbourne by 32 points.

HAWTHORN v PORT ADELAIDE (York Park, Saturday 2.10pm local time)
Crunch time has arrived for both of these sides as we approach the midway point of the year. The Hawks (5-5) and Power (6-3) are 10th and ninth on the ladder respectively and the result of this game could have a huge impact on their finals hopes. There’s more of a sense of urgency for Hawthorn, which has lost its last three after looking like a contender in round seven when it was sitting in the top four. The Power will be well-rested after their Chinese odyssey and both teams are just about full strength heading into this one. However, the Hawks have an incredible record in Launceston, having lost just one of their last 24 matches there and it’s an advantage that’s too hard to ignore.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 17 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Hawthorn by 6 points.

GOLD COAST v GEELONG (Metricon Stadium, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
For the second time in as many weeks, Gary Ablett will have a homecoming of sorts. Last week it was in front of his adoring Geelong fans, but this week it will be in front of the ones who adored him the previous seven seasons. It will be interesting to see what the reception will be like, although “hostile” isn’t exactly a word one would associate with Gold Coast fans. Importantly for the Suns, they finally get to play on their home ground after the major disruption that the Commonwealth Games caused. And they’ve brought back the big guns in Tom Lynch, Jack Martin and Sam Day. Esava Ratugolea (ankle) is a big loss for the Cats structurally, and they’re still missing Nakia Cockatoo (knee), Cam Guthrie (ankle), Lachie Henderson (knee), Daniel Menzel (groin), Scott Selwood (back) and Harry Taylor (foot). But isn’t it great to see Lincoln McCarthy back for his first game since round three last year? Geelong should do enough to win, although the Cats have been in a rut the past couple of weeks and could actually be ripe for the picking.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 4 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 16 points.

ESSENDON v RICHMOND (MCG, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
What a difference two weeks makes. In thumping Geelong and GWS, the Bombers have been unrecognisable from the side that lost six of their first eight games. They’re playing a more direct brand of football and their intensity/pressure has been top notch. Their stoppage work has also been very impressive so this promises to be an intriguing encounter – am unthinkable prospect after Essendon lost to lowly Carlton in round eight. Adding to the spectacle is the fact it is a Dreamtime at the ‘G clash. These matches have become some of the most highly-anticipated events of the season and a huge crowd of over 85,000 is expected. The second-placed Tigers are still purring along nicely and beating them at the MCG has become almost impossible. They’ve now won a club record 14 in a row at the ground and should be able to extend that streak to 15 this weekend.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 22 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Essendon by 2 points.

WEST COAST v ST KILDA (Optus Stadium, Saturday 6.10pm local time)
There’s no getting around it – this could get very ugly. And as if the struggling Saints weren’t already up against it, losing gun key defender Jake Carlisle when they come up against West Coast’s twin towers of Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy just rubs salt into the wound. St Kilda hasn’t won since round one and that dry patch is about to enter its 10th consecutive week – something that hasn’t happened to them since 2014. Conversely, the Eagles should comfortably win their 10th game in a row for the first time in 22 years.
RONNY’S TIP: West Coast by 72 points.
ROCO’S TIP: West Coast by 54 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE v BRISBANE (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
What a story the Kangaroos have been this year. Their critic-defying antics continued unabated last week as they became the first non-WA side to beat Fremantle at Optus Stadium to move up to fifth on the ladder, ensuring egg remains on the faces of their pre-season detractors. You can expect the Lions to put up a decent fight, as they have done for most of the year, but that lack of polish, especially away from the Gabba, will play right into the clinical Kangaroos’ hands.
RONNY’S TIP: North Melbourne by 32 points.
ROCO’S TIP: North Melbourne by 30 points.

COLLINGWOOD v FREMANTLE (MCG, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
Will Collingwood finally return to the finals this year? Another win this week will certainly enhance its chances. The Pies currently sit in eighth position and should improve to a very attractive 7-4 win-loss record if they’re fair dinkum. Quite simply, the Dockers stink away from Perth. They’ve lost all four matches on the road this year by an average of 54 points and have only won one of their last 11 outside WA. The losses of Stephen Hill (calf) and Aaron Sandilands (concussion) only make matters worse for Freo. While Collingwood’s injury list is longer, containing the likes of Jeremy Howe (bone bruising), Ben Reid (leg), Travis Varcoe (hamstring), Jamie Elliott (hamstring), Alex Fasolo (ankle), Tyson Goldsack (knee) and Darcy Moore (hamstring), the four points are there for their taking.
RONNY’S TIP: Collingwood by 28 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Collingwood by 48 points.

ADELAIDE v GWS (Adelaide Oval, Sunday 4.10pm local time)
It’s been four years since the Giants lost five games in a row, yet here we are on the verge of that possibility becoming a reality. GWS has been the huge disappointment of 2018. Heading into the season the Giants were considered premiership contenders but now they find themselves battling to stay in touch with the top eight and appear to be in freefall. Adelaide will be seething after copping a 15-goal drubbing at the hands of Melbourne last week and while both sides have had to deal with significant injury issues all year, the Crows have proven themselves to be far more capable of coping and should get the job done in front of their home fans.
RONNY’S TIP: Adelaide by 31 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 22 points.


1 Comment
  1. Typo in the ESS v RICH review: “intriguing encounter – *am* unthinkable prospect”

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