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Previews with punch – Round 12

Will Hoskin-Elliott seals victory for Collingwood against Melbourne in the final round last year, denying the Demons a finals berth. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Previews with punch – Round 12

Ronny Lerner    

PORT ADELAIDE v RICHMOND (Adelaide Oval, Friday 7.20pm local time)
After three Friday night duds in a row, it’s safe to say we’ve finally got a clash to look forward to in the coveted time slot. To say the Power are a hard team to read would be an understatement. One week they look like a million bucks, the next they stink it up. If they want to stay in touch with the top eight, then they’re going to have to pull out a special against the red-hot Tigers. Both of Richmond’s losses have been on the road this year and we will also get our first glimpse of the Tiges without superstar Dustin Martin (calf) since they became the AFL’s best team. However, while they may have dropped away games to Adelaide and West Coast this year, they did roll Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval last year and should still get the job done minus the reigning Brownlow medallist.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 9 points.
RoCo’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 2 points.

GEELONG v NORTH MELBOURNE (GMHBA Stadium, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
If it wasn’t for a certain game on Queen’s Birthday, this contest would just about be the match of the round. And if someone suggested before the season began that this match would be a battle between fifth and sixth on the ladder, they would have been certified. While Geelong’s position isn’t surprising, North Melbourne continues to defy the critics to be one of the stories of season 2018. Despite winning four of its last five games, Geelong hasn’t been totally convincing, although the Cats would have garnered a lot of confidence from their 85-point smashing of Gold Coast last week. The Kangaroos have proven they can mix it with the big boys this year and will almost certainly push the Cats to the end. But Geelong doesn’t lose at home too often, and despite still missing Nakia Cockatoo, Cam Guthrie, Lachie Henderson, Daniel Menzel, Esava Ratugolea, Scott Selwood and Harry Taylor due to injury, its line-up is unchanged (pending a characteristic late change) for one of the very few times in Chris Scott’s tenure.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 11 points.
RoCo’S TIP: Geelong by 22 points.

GWS v GOLD COAST (Spotless Stadium, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
If the Giants wanted to continue their resurgence on the back of their gutsy victory over the Crows in Adelaide last week, then they have been presented with the perfect opportunity to do so. After a bright start to the year, the wind has been taken out of the Suns’ sails. Perhaps all the travel due to the unavailability of their Metricon Stadium home base has caught up with them, but whatever the reason, Stuart Dew’s men look cooked. Adding to their woes are the losses of Steven May (ankle) and Aaron Hall (pectoral) on top of the already-injured Pearce Hanley (shoulder), Kade Kolodjashnij (concussion), Matt Rosa (hamstring), Brayden Fiorini (leg) and Aaron Young (ankle). This could be a case of lambs to the slaughter and a healthy percentage boost for GWS.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 55 points.
RoCo’S TIP: GWS by 38 points.

ST KILDA v SYDNEY (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
On paper this also has the makings of a potential smashing. But despite being 1-9-1 and not having won a game for 10 weeks, the Saints have been pretty competitive in the past month without getting the desired result. It looks as though they aren’t far away from a victory, but it’s hard to see them achieving it against a Sydney outfit pushing for a top-four spot. The Swans have won their past eight encounters with the Saints by an average margin of 54 points, including three at Etihad Stadium, and John Longmire’s men should have few issues extending that streak to nine games this weekend.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 31 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 40 points.

BRISBANE LIONS v ESSENDON (Gabba, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
The Lions might only have one win next to their name this year, but they are a very tough nut to crack up at the Gabba. They probably should have beaten Collingwood and Gold Coast, they pushed Melbourne and Sydney until the final quarter and of course they thumped Hawthorn by nine goals. However, they have suffered two huge outs with Mitch Robinson (toe) and Charlie Cameron (ankle) both injuring themselves. David Zaharakis (shoulder) is a big loss, too, for the Bombers, who are still missing Joe Daniher (groin). Bad habits seemed to creep back into their game against Richmond last week and if such key Lions like Robinson and Cameron were fit, Essendon would probably be staring down its eighth loss of the season.
RONNY’S TIP: Essendon by 2 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Essendon by 16 points.

FREMANTLE v ADELAIDE (Optus Stadium, Sunday 2.40pm local time)
All things being equal, the Crows would probably have few issues in taking care of Fremantle. But last year’s runners-up are now missing eight of their best 22 as their injury crisis continues to deepen. Coach Don Pyke must be wondering how many black cats and ladders surround the West Lakes precinct. One positive for the Crows is the return of skipper Taylor Walker but, as their loss to GWS last week seemed to suggest, it looks as though they are reaching their tipping point in terms of covering the holes left by key personnel. The absence of suspended Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe definitely helps Adelaide’s cause as does the unavailability of Brad Hill (knee) and Stephen Hill (quad). But all four of Fremantle’s wins this year have come at Optus Stadium and, with Aaron Sandilands, Hayden Ballantyne and Brandon Matera all added to their squad of 26, they might just deliver the killer blow to Adelaide’s top-four hopes and ensure the Crows are entrenched in a battle to make the finals in the second half of the year.
RONNY’S TIP: Fremantle by 13 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 8 points.

MELBOURNE v COLLINGWOOD (MCG, Monday 3.20pm local time)
It’s the match of the round and some are expecting a crowd of almost 90,000 to attend what is the biggest modern era Queen’s Birthday clash between these two sides. For the first time since 2001, when this fixture became an annual event, both clubs find themselves in the top eight. While Collingwood are well and truly in the finals race, Melbourne is being touted as a premiership contender as it pushes for a top-two spot on the back of one of the best six-week periods in the club’s history. The Demons have been breathtaking and have won their last six games by an average of 66 points to have the second best percentage (140.2) behind Richmond (140.5). It’s hard to see the Magpies suffering an 11-goal loss and the return of Jeremy Howe will boost them. But the Demons are an irresistible force right now and will honour former coach and AFL legend Neale Daniher in fitting style by winning their third straight ‘Big Freeze’ match.
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 27 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Melbourne by 18 points.


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