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Previews with punch – Round 19

Last time they met: Western Bulldog Liam Picken under assault on two fronts as the Dogs beat Essendon last year. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Previews with punch – Round 19

These aren’t just two of the modern heavyweights, they also know how to turn on a classic, three of their last five meetings decided by a goal or less. Why should this be any different? The Hawks are the only team to get the better of Sydney in the Swans’ last 11 games, a masterful effort at the SCG when they played keepings off to full effect. They should be a bigger chance still at the MCG. But Sydney’s recent efforts there aren’t bad at all, two from three this season, and six wins from their last nine at the grand final ground. The talented Hayward returns, and the Swans may have discovered another decent goalkicking source in Sinclair. They’ve also got a hard-won spot in the eight to protect. That should be enough.
TIP: Sydney by 6 points

Boy, are there some conflicting numbers around this game. North Melbourne have now lost seven games on the trot, their worst run for 33 years. But neither have they lost to their opponent since 2006. That’s 16 wins in a row against the Demons, the AFL’s longest current winning streak, the Roos last upsetting a warm favourite back in round nine. Their clash prior to that was at this same Hobart venue, where North just prevailed in a real shootout which netted 41 goals. You can write your own ticket on a repeat of that, but the Roos play Bellerive well, having won 10 of 14 at the ground, and get some handy returnees in skipper Ziebell and Tarrant. It spells danger for the Dees, despite what the form chart indicates. Have they matured enough to handle it? I think so.
TIP: Melbourne by 10 points

It’s perhaps a testament to the Giants’ list quality that a team which has now won just one of its past six matches remains equal second flag favourite. But any sort of buffer GWS had built is now gone, and another upset loss here and they’ll likely tumble out of the top four. Selection is an issue again, Cameron back in harness and, finally, Coniglio, too, but only at the expense of a suspended Greene and an injured Stevie J. Mumford is down as well, meaning Simpson makes his debut for the Giants. Fortunately, they take on a Fremantle starting to really stink it up, just one (narrow) win in their last eight games, and one of the Dockers’ few shining lights in Walters out of the mix. That spells shellacking to me.
TIP: GWS by 40 points

The Power are making a habit of losing the tests against good opposition and beating up on those weaker, not a great finals recommendation for a side which until last round was top four. The Saints, meanwhile have managed to follow up that smashing of Richmond with arguably their two worst efforts of the season. Now they confront another road trip having won just five of 32 of them under Alan Richardson, 0-7 at Adelaide Oval, and without senior hands Riewoldt, Montagna and Stevens. That’s a decent obstacle course. Port lose the star quality of Wingard but regain a few handy types, too. Motivation isn’t an issue for either, the Power perhaps losing touch with the top four if they go under, St Kilda clearly behind the finals eight ball if it can’t jag the upset. Pretty hard to see it happening.
TIP: Port Adelaide by 28 points

Carlton has pushed Geelong all the way several times in recent years and beat them last year, but in their current state it’s pretty hard to see a potential repeat this time around. The Blues’ efforts have been admirable for much of this season, but some key injuries are starting to take a real toll, namely those to midfield pair Cripps and Ed Curnow, and it told last week against Brisbane when they conceded an early lead to great to make up in the finish, making it five straight losses. This might be a bad week to get the Cats, too, stung by an ordinary performance last week in Adelaide, and needing a win to shore up a top-two spot. Menzel and Motlop have been managed, but Mackie and Cockatoo are pretty decent “ins”.
TIP: Geelong by 30 points

Another year, another mediocre effort from a Suns’ line-up that always seems to promise a lot and deliver very little. There’s been far too much waving of the white towel, just one win coming in the last six games, and two of the last three defeats particularly insipid. The Suns at least get some joy at the selection table in the returns of Ablett and May this week. Richmond, meanwhile, continues to get the job done, the Tigers have recovering brilliantly from what might have been a shattering run of three straight losses by less than a kick, winning six of their past eight. It still might not be easy, particularly with Riewoldt out with an eye injury, his goal tally of 42 double the next Tiger on the list. But they’re a pretty resourceful bunch at Punt Road these days.
TIP: Richmond by 20 points

This is one of those “eight-point” affairs, the Bombers and Bulldogs both on nine wins, the Dons just inside the eight, the reigning premier just out. Essendon have probably exceeded most expectations this season, while there’s no doubt the Dogs have struggled to deliver what their status demanded. Are things starting to tick over a little more smoothly, though? Their last two wins have been pretty solid, featuring more contested ball, an area in which they’ve struggled in 2017. But the loss of veteran backman Morris is a major blow given how dangerous Essendon’s forward set-up has been. The Bombers have won three in a row for the first time in three years, but they’d need a major lift from last week’s pedestrian level against North Melbourne to make it four. I’ve got my doubts.
TIP: Western Bulldogs by 18 points.

You’ve got to give the Pies credit for their last couple of gritty wins when throwing in the towel would have been easy to do. There could be more reason to get down to the “G” this week, too, should Josh Daicos finally make his AFL debut. Adelaide? Well, I still think the Crows ain’t getting enough respect, six points clear on top of the ladder, with clearly the best attack going around, a still-underestimated back six, and an on-ball division finally pitching in consistently to help Rory Sloane. They might do it tough, given there’s no Brad Crouch this week, nor the brilliance of Betts. But they’re 2-0 on the MCG this season, too, and in their last appearance on it before finals, it’s an important reconnaissance mission they can’t afford to get wrong.
TIP: Adelaide by 26 points.

It’s been a tough week for the Eagles on their home turf after that criminal giving up of what seemed certain victory against Collingwood. It’s fair to say the natives are restless, calls for head of coach Adam Simpson, wholesale list changes, West Coast now outside the eight. Brisbane, meanwhile, notched up a fourth win for the season over Carlton. Can the Lions make it five? Not if you take selection as a guide. Heartbeat Zorko is out suspended, and gun young trio Hipwood, McCluggage and Berry have been managed. That doesn’t leave a lot to be excited about. Brisbane travelling to Perth might be the toughest ask in footy, the Lions now 0-7 since their last win at Domain Stadium back in 2010. And as downcast as the locals are, it’s hard to see anything other than that becoming 0-8.
TIP: West Coast by 36 points.

  1. Not a very funny preview this week, Titus. Lift your game, champ.

  2. Good pick of the margin for Hawks v Swans despite the opposite result.

    But when you tip a ‘shellacking’ (GWS v Freo) I expect more than 40 points! Tell us what you really think! 😉

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