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Previews with punch – Round 3

Carlton players show Collingwood’s Mason Cox just how much the Blues love the Magpies in last year’s round seven clash. Photo:GETTY IMAGES

Previews with punch – Round 3

Ronny Lerner    

CARLTON v COLLINGWOOD (MCG, Friday 7.50pm local time)
This famous rivalry may have lost a bit of its lustre in recent years, but make no mistake – the 255th meeting between these two arch rivals will be absolutely massive. Both teams are still searching for their first win of the year, and, given Collingwood faces Adelaide (away), Essendon and Richmond in the following three weeks, a loss could have huge ramifications for the Magpies in particular. It could quite realistically pave the way for another wasted season under coach Nathan Buckley, who has failed to guide the Magpies to the finals in the last four years. The stakes are enormous. Collingwood will hope the inclusions of Ben Reid and Mason Cox will straightens it up in front of goal while the big bodies of Matthew Kreuzer and Matthew Kennedy will be welcome additions to Carlton’s midfield. The loss of Darcy Moore (hamstring) will no doubt hurt the Magpies, but the Blues’ skill level was a serious concern last week, and if Collingwood can bring the same spirit they brought against GWS, it should break its duck in 2018.
RONNY’S TIP: Collingwood by 12 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Carlton by 2 points.

PORT ADELAIDE v BRISBANE (Adelaide Oval, Saturday 1.15pm local time)
Port Adelaide has started the year with a full head of steam and will head into this contest brimming with confidence following its magnificent four-goal win over premiership fancies Sydney at the SCG last week. The Power’s biggest knock in recent times has been their inability to beat the top teams, but they have had no such trouble in dealing with ‘easy kills’, and this one has ‘pummelling’ written all over it. The Lions showed plenty of ticker to wipe out a 42-point deficit before eventually losing to Melbourne last week, but this task will prove far too difficult for Chris Fagan’s men. Tom Rockliff should celebrate his first meeting with his old team in style.
RONNY’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 62 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 48 points.

MELBOURNE v NORTH MELBOURNE (MCG, Saturday 2.10pm local time)
Will ‘The Streak’ continue? It’s a question that has been posed on numerous occasions in recent years, and each time the answer has been something the Melbourne faithful haven’t wanted to hear. North Melbourne has won its last 17 games against the Demons in a run that dates all the way back to 2007. That’s a run which is six clear of the next biggest active club-v-club winning streak. ‘Surely, Melbourne will win this time’, I hear you say? Well, that was the common opinion last year when the Dees faced the lowly Kangas twice, and both times Brad Scott’s men somehow managed to cause an upset – essentially costing Melbourne a finals berth in the process. Having said that, surely, Melbourne will win this time…
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 23 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Melbourne by 10 points.

GOLD COAST v FREMANTLE (Optus Stadium, Saturday 2.35pm local time)
The Suns have been the early surprise packet of the year with two impressive wins against the Kangaroos and Blues. That’s why the venue for this match is so disappointing. We know Metricon Stadium is out of bounds until the second half of the year due to the Commonwealth Games, but why would you give up home ground advantage to the Dockers when you’ve got so much early momentum? Surely the Suns would have been better off making Freo travel and playing at the Gabba or even Cairns again? And the financial compensation argument is rubbish. The AFL basically runs the club, they’re paying themselves with their own money! Freo was fantastic in its first outing at the new stadium last week and while Gold Coast superstar Tom Lynch looms as the danger man fresh from his career-high eight goals against the Blues, the Dockers defence did a marvellous job of quelling Joe Daniher and co. last week and should get the job done again this time around.
RONNY’S TIP: Fremantle by 20 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Gold Coast by 4 points.

SYDNEY v GWS (SCG, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
By far the hardest game to tip of the round. A part of me is tempted to tip a draw! What a clash this promises to be between this year’s premiership favourites. Both teams are so evenly matched across the ground, and the 14th instalment of the Sydney Derby could be the best one yet. The Giants will take confidence from the fact that they won by seven goals the last time the two sides met at the SCG. However, the loss of Tom Scully (ankle) will be keenly felt and considering Toby Greene, Zac Williams, Adam Kennedy and Matt Buntine are also unavailable due to injury, the Giants look a little stretched. Sydney, which regains Sam Reid, will be smarting from its shock loss to the Power last week and will be desperate to atone by handing GWS its first loss of the year.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 2 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 6 points.

ST KILDA v ADELAIDE (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
After two underwhelming performances to start the year, the Saints find themselves well and truly under the pump. And their next assignment looms as a daunting one to say the least. Coach Alan Richardson reacted savagely to their embarrassing nine-goal loss to North Melbourne, axing three players. The loss of Billy Longer (groin) could also be telling as the Saints come up against one of the best ruckmen in the competition in Sam Jacobs. The Crows lose Matt Crouch (hamstring), but regain stars Tom Lynch and Richard Douglas. Fresh from a huge win over reigning premiers Richmond, Adelaide could turn this into an ugly affair.
RONNY’S TIP: Adelaide by 57 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 36 points.

RICHMOND v HAWTHORN (MCG, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
Shaded perhaps only by Sydney-GWS as the match of the round. The reigning premiers face off against the revitalised Hawks, who appear to have got their groove back after falling off a cliff in the first half of last season. Hawthorn has made a cracking start to the year to be one of only four undefeated sides and star midfielder Tom Mitchell is almost certainly the early leader of the Brownlow Medal with 94 disposals already to his name. But they’ll be hard-pressed to make it three from three this week. The Tigers are back at their favourite ground where they have won 13 of their last 15 games and are coming off a 10-day break compared to Hawthorn’s six. They’ve lost Josh Caddy (suspension) but premiership stars Dion Prestia and Nick Vlastuin are back. The losses of Shaun Burgoyne (hamstring) and James Sicily (suspension) will also hurt the Hawks.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 25 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Richmond by 16 points.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v ESSENDON (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
It’s hard to believe that 25 games ago, the Bulldogs reigned supreme over the AFL. But as coach Luke Beveridge quite rightly pointed out earlier this week, that was a lifetime ago. Their fall from grace has been spectacular and right now they don’t look like exiting the bottom four. You would think that with the inclusions of Tory Dickson, Jack Redpath, Mitch Wallis, Tom Boyd, Fletcher Roberts and Shane Biggs to their squad of 26 they would put up more of a fight than they have so far this season. But the problems at the Dogs appear to run deeper than merely personnel issues. This week they come up against a Bombers side on the rebound featuring one Jake Stringer against his old club. It will be fascinating to see how he responds. The Dons will also be boosted by the additions of Orazio Fantasia, David Myers and Mark Baguley. Expect Joe Daniher to awake from his slumber too against the Bulldogs’ undersized backline.
RONNY’S TIP: Essendon by 19 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Essendon by 22 points.

WEST COAST v GEELONG (Optus Stadium, Sunday 2.40pm local time)
This game probably sits behind Sydney-GWS and Richmond-Hawthorn in the game-of-the-round pecking order. Who would have thought we’d be saying that about this fixture a couple of weeks ago? The Eagles’ start to the year has taken most by surprise with a gallant loss to Sydney and a thumping win over the Dogs under their belt. By the same token, Geelong surprisingly hasn’t set the world on fire to date. Crucially, the Eagles regain coach Adam Simpson, who had to sit out last week to tend to his ill daughter. Geelong is still missing Harry Taylor (foot) and Lachie Henderson (knee) down back which spells trouble considering the form Jack Darling has been in in the absence of Josh Kennedy. Mitch Duncan (hamstring) sitting out another is also big. West Coast has its tail up and will be keen to break its Optus Stadium duck. However, Geelong’s ‘Holy Trinity’ of Danger, Gaz and Selwood will have a point to prove after failing to get the job done in their first outing against Hawthorn last week.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 13 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 6 points.

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