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Previews with punch – Round 13

Richmond’s Shane Edwards bursts clear despite the desperate efforts of Geelong’s Zach Guthrie in last year’s qualifying final. Photo: AFL MEDIA

Previews with punch – Round 13

Ronny Lerner    

PORT ADELAIDE v WESTERN BULLDOGS (Adelaide Oval, Thursday 7.20pm local time)
This venue certainly doesn’t bring back good memories for the visitors. The last time the Bulldogs played here a month ago, they kicked the second-lowest goal tally in their history (two) against the Crows. While they should be able to split the big sticks more often than that this time around, it’s hard to see them scoring a win. Port Adelaide has a great opportunity to entrench itself inside the top eight with 10 games to go and, if the Power are a fair dinkum finals hope, they’ll do just that. They love Adelaide Oval, losing just one of five games there this year, to Geelong, and are fresh from knocking off reigning premier Richmond. Meanwhile, the Dogs have only tasted victory once from five attempts there – in fact, they’ve won just one game in Adelaide since 2011. Making things more difficult for Luke Beveridge’s side are the losses of Matt Suckling (achilles), Dale Morris (knee) and Tory Dickson (hamstring) to injury, while Bailey Dale (foot), Tom Liberatore (knee), Aaron Naughton (ankle), Liam Picken (concussion) and Jack Redpath (knee) all remain sidelined.
RONNY’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 39 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 28 points.

SYDNEY v WEST COAST (SCG, Friday 7.50pm local time)
One of footy’s great modern-day rivalries goes on display once again on Friday night and doesn’t the next chapter promise to be an absolute ripper? In one corner we have the ladder-leading Eagles who have won their last 10 games, and in the other the red-hot Swans sitting in third spot on the back of a five-game winning streak. Sydney is the only side so far in 2018 to have worked out how to topple West Coast and, back on its home deck, will be confident of repeating the dose. However, incredibly, the SCG hasn’t proven to be a happy hunting ground for the Swans this year, with all three of their losses there. That’s something which will give West Coast cause for optimism as it heads to Sydney nice and refreshed after the bye and aiming to win 11 games in a row for the first time since 1996. The road holds no fears for the Eagles this year, although they haven’t won at the SCG in 19 years. The Eagles have the chance to open up a two-game buffer at the top of the ladder, but the loss of star forward Jack Darling (ankle) is massive and the expected return of Kieren Jack for Sydney is significant as well.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 11 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 6 points.

CARLTON v FREMANTLE (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
The bottom-of-the-ladder Blues will see this as a golden opportunity to register a rare victory. While Fremantle is a hard team to beat at home, the Dockers are the complete opposite on the road, having lost all five of their interstate engagements this year by an average of 56 points. Yes, they should welcome back Nat Fyfe (suspension) and Aaron Sandilands (concussion) but they lose Michael Walters (suspension) and Alex Pearce (thumb), while both Brad Hill (knee) and Stephen Hill (quad) remain out of action. This has “banana skin” written all over it for Freo. Carlton could regain Levi Casboult and Matthew Kennedy, and if the Blues set themselves for a kill and remain switched on for most of the day, like they did against Essendon in round eight, they might just pinch their second win of the year.
RONNY’S TIP: Carlton by 13 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Fremantle by 16 points.

GOLD COAST v ST KILDA (Metricon Stadium, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
There’s morbid interest in this game purely because we have two of the competition’s worst-performed teams battling it out. Ordinarily, if the Saints lost a game like this, it could easily lead to the sacking of coach Alan Richardson, but such are the club’s finances, a two-and-a-half-year payout probably keeps Richardson safe for now regardless of the result. The Suns have been absolutely woeful, having lost their past six games and scoring two of their five lowest-ever scores in the past fortnight in losing to Geelong and GWS by a combined total of 193 points. It really is almost as if they’ve returned to the bad old days of their development years. The Saints haven’t been much better as they search for their first win since round one. After a month of competitive performances, the dam wall burst for the Saints last weekend as Sydney dismantled them. Whether or not they can dust themselves off and rebound against the Suns remains to be seen, but despite being lower on the ladder, St Kilda has actually been in better form recently and the return of Jake Carlisle will be a huge boost.
RONNY’S TIP: St Kilda by 12 points.
ROCO’S TIP: St Kilda by 2 points.

HAWTHORN v ADELAIDE (MCG, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
It might only be June, but it certainly feels like September has come early for these two sides as they prepare for what could turn out to be an elimination final. The injury-ravaged Crows (6-6) are in freefall and are losing touch with the top eight, while the Hawks (6-5) managed to get their season back on track with a gutsy win over Port Adelaide in round 11. Will Hawthorn have an advantage coming off the bye? Perhaps. But making sure champion Shaun Burgoyne’s 350th match is one to remember will surely provide an extra edge. Hawthorn is basically (minus Cyril Rioli and Grant Birchall) at full strength, and at the MCG, should help Adelaide slide further down the ladder. The Crows could, however, be boosted by the returns of Rory Laird (hand) and Tom Lynch (side strain).
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 17 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 10 points.

GEELONG v RICHMOND (MCG, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
How blessed are we to have two top-four clashes in the same round? The second one of those promises to be as intriguing and entertaining as the first. Richmond has proven to be basically unbeatable at the MCG in recent times, having won its last 15 games at the ground (a club record). The Tigers will also almost certainly recall Dustin Martin, who sat out last week’s loss to the Power due to a calf complaint. It certainly seems to be a tall order for the Cats who will remember their last meeting with Richmond at the MCG all too well – a 51-point drubbing in the first week of the finals last year. But after a shaky start to 2018, Geelong has settled nicely, winning five of its past six games and has currently the best defence in the competition. In each of those five wins, the Cats have kept their opponents to less than 60 points. However, it will be a very tough ask to repeat the dose against the side with the best percentage in the competition, and the Tigers will be extremely keen to return to the winners’ circle and reassert their premiership credentials.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 25 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 8 points.


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