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Previews with punch – Round 2


Tom Mitchell gets a handball away despite the attentions of Joel Selwood in Hawthorn’s most recent clash with Geelong. Photo: AFL MEDIA

Previews with punch – Round 2

Ronny Lerner    

ADELAIDE v RICHMOND (Adelaide Oval, Thursday 7.20pm local time)
These teams met only two games ago, yet Richmond appears far more settled than Adelaide heading into this blockbuster grand final rematch. Only four premiership players are missing from the Tigers’ line-up and they regain the services of almost-Norm Smith Medallist Bachar Houli at the expense of Nick Vlastuin (concussion). Adelaide, on the other hand, is already missing seven members from the team that was so methodically picked apart on the biggest day of the year. Taylor Walker comes in for Richard Douglas (suspended). The Tigers have barely put a foot wrong so far in 2018 (including the pre-season) and have very much picked up where they left off last year. The third quarter aside, Adelaide looked a shadow of their brash, attacking 2017 selves against Essendon, and it will take a stunning turnaround in form from both sides for the Crows to take home the points.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 20 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 8 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE v ST KILDA (Etihad Stadium, Friday 4.20pm local time)
This is the second instalment of the Good Friday clash and there’s certainly more at stake in this one than just the four points. Neither side get many marquee matches these days, so both the Kangaroos and Saints will also be out to prove that they deserve to remain part of this fixture for years to come. The Western Bulldogs won the corresponding game last year and not even that was enough for them to hang onto their spot. That’s how cut-throat it is! Both teams are coming off very different preparations. The Kangas played in the Cairns public swimming pool last week while the Saints played in pristine conditions under the Etihad Stadium roof. You feel North will need every little advantage going its way to win games this year. A six-day break after playing in a hard slog and flying to north Queensland and back is hardly ideal.
RONNY’S TIP: St Kilda by 32 points.
ROCO’S TIP: St Kilda by 22 points.

CARLTON v GOLD COAST (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
This promises to be one of the most intriguing games of the round. It’s only a small sample size, but both sides displayed vast improvement in round one. The Blues held their own against Richmond, while the Suns scored a gutsy victory in shocking conditions against North Melbourne. It’s already obvious that Carlton plans to be a lot more attacking in 2018 (the Blues kicked 15 goals against the Tigers after averaging 11 last year) and Charlie Curnow looks like he’s ready and able to facilitate their high-scoring aspirations. However, while Gold Coast doesn’t have a great record against most teams, Carlton bucks that trend. The Suns have won two of their last three against Brendon Bolton’s side, and in the corresponding fixture last year at Etihad Stadium, Tom Lynch put on a masterclass with a career-best seven goals. First-choice players Aaron Hall (finger), Sean Lemmens (hamstring) and Peter Wright (calf) could all return this week, too. Matthew Kennedy (ankle) and Matthew Kreuzer (groin) are in some doubt for the Blues but, led by the brilliant Patrick Cripps, Carlton should be too good, especially coming off a longer break than Gold Coast.
RONNY’S TIP: Carlton by 25 points.
ROHAN’S TIP: Carlton by 6 points.

COLLINGWOOD v GWS (MCG, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
In short, it will take something special for Collingwood to knock off the red-hot Giants. Unfortunately for the Magpies, it was a case of “same old, same old”’ for them on the weekend. Poor disposal, ineffective forward entries and unreliable key targets in attack made many wonder: “has anything really changed from last year”? While GWS has only won one game out of 12 at the MCG, the Giants’ demolition of the Bulldogs last week is too hard to ignore. Leon Cameron’s men were slick, ruthless and potent – three things Collingwood hasn’t been for some time. Alex Fasolo is in the frame to return for the Pies, while Tom Scully and Jacob Hopper are pushing for selection for GWS.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 36 points.
ROHAN’S TIP: GWS by 42 points.

BRISBANE v MELBOURNE (Gabba, Saturday 6.25pm local time)
The Lions’ performance against St Kilda last week might suggest that they’re going to be a harder nut to crack in 2018. Brisbane led the Saints late in the third quarter at Etihad Stadium and it took Jack Steven’s heroics to stave off a huge upset. New recruits Luke Hodge, Charlie Cameron and Cam Rayner have all added something to the group and have made them look like a better team. But the losses of Daniel Rich (ankle) and Mitch Robinson (suspension) will be felt keenly. Melbourne, meanwhile, will still be stewing over the one that got away against Geelong. The Dees will be desperate to prove that losses such are a thing of the past and will be hell-bent on atoning against Brisbane. Dom Tyson and Angus Brayshaw might get call-ups after surprisingly being overlooked in round one. Melbourne’s “home games” against the Lions were predominantly played at the Gabba in the first decade of this century, so playing at their one-time “home away from home” might also help them in their quest for victory!
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 22 points.
ROHAN’S TIP: Melbourne by 16 points

FREMANTLE v ESSENDON (Optus Stadium, Saturday 5.10pm local time)
It was a case of deja vu for the Dockers last week as they copped an early-season smashing from Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. It wasn’t quite as severe as the 89-point loss incurred in round two last year, but bad enough to potentially rattle their confidence. Joel Hamling should return to try and help nullify Essendon’s tall forward line, while Stephen Hill (calf) could be a chance, too. And what to make of the Bombers? Their first three quarters against Adelaide were error-riddled and their final term was magnificent. Overall, the Bombers look stronger across the ground than Freo and should spoil the Dockers’ first game at Optus Stadium. Zach Merrett (concussion) should be OK and David Myers (calf) might make his return as well.
RONNY’S TIP: Essendon by 17 points.
ROHAN’S TIP: Essendon by 20 points.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v WEST COAST (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
A week ago, you would have pencilled this in as a win for the Dogs. But now the result is not so certain. The Bulldogs couldn’t have got their year off to a worse start as they suffered an 82-point smashing at the hands of the Giants and lost star midfielder Tom Liberatore to a season-ending knee injury in the process. Luke Beveridge’s team seems all over the place with Mitch Walls, Caleb Daniel, Tom Boyd, Lin Jong and Josh Schache all playing in the VFL last week. Jack Redpath is now available after serving his suspension. One saving grace for them is that Eagles spearhead Josh Kennedy (ankle/knee) is sidelined given he has historically enjoyed feasting on the Doggies. West Coast was impressive last week against one of this year’s premiership favourites in Sydney and star ruckman Nic Naitanui’s return was fantastic. He will only get better. The Eagles will push the Bulldogs, but I’m going to give the home team one more chance to get their house in order.
RONNY’S TIP: Western Bulldogs by 8 points.
ROHAN’S TIP: West Coast by 2 points.

SYDNEY v PORT ADELAIDE (SCG, Sunday 4.40pm)
Will this be episode two of the Buddy Show? Port Adelaide certainly will be hoping not! Suffice to say the likes of Tom Clurey and Dougal Howard would be having a few sleepless nights in the lead-up to this one after Franklin’s breathtaking eight-goal performance against West Coast last week. The scary thing is the Sydney superstar looks like he could be getting better at the age of 31 and he will once again have a huge say in which way the result goes. The Power did what they had to do against Freo, but this is the first real test for their revamped, and much-hyped, line-up. The return of star forward Robbie Gray from suspension definitely helps Port Adelaide’s cause. Dan Hannebery (calf) will almost certainly be picked by the Swans, but Sam Reid (hamstring) might need another week.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 21 points.
ROHAN’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 4 points.

GEELONG v HAWTHORN (MCG, Monday 3.20pm)
Given Easter is one of the biggest holidays on the Christian calendar, it’s very fitting that the Geelong faithful will undergo a religious experience of their own on Easter Monday when the Holy Trinity of Danger, Gaz and Joel are finally brought together to play in the same game for the first time. And what better way to celebrate this occasion than by resurrecting their fierce rivalry with Hawthorn, who once again have Jeff Kennett at the helm? The “Kennett Curse” spanned five seasons and 11 consecutive Geelong victories over Hawthorn. Will his return further intensify the Cats’ domination over the Hawks? They’ve already won the last four encounters, so it’s possible! Nakia Cockatoo should return for the Cats too, but Harry Taylor (foot) is a big loss and Geelong’s defence looks stretched. Ryan Burton (ankle) is no certainty to play for Hawthorn either. It’s hard to go past the Cats in this one now that their star midfield is fully operational.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 18 points.
ROHAN’S TIP: Geelong by 22 points.

1 Comment
  1. Freo to beat the Bombers.

    Much harder prospect at home and belted the Bombers at Subi last year, who have been poor outside of Victoria recently.

    Inclusions of Hamling, Cerra, Hill and possibly Crowden will improve the team with D Pearce, Johnson, Ballantyne and Sutcliffe most likely to miss.

    Freo mids too strong in this one

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