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Previews with punch – Round 4


Melbourne’s Jordan Lewis and his old Hawthorn teammate Isaac Smith do battle in last year’s clash between Hawthorn and Melbourne. Photo: AFL MEDIA

Previews with punch – Round 4

Ronny Lerner    

ADELAIDE v COLLINGWOOD (Adelaide Oval, Friday 7.20pm local time)
After a gallant effort against GWS the week prior, Collingwood was rewarded for its application last week when it accounted for arch-rivals Carlton to win its first game of the year. So are the Pies back? It’s hard to say definitively. But despite the encouraging signs in the past fortnight, they’ll have their work cut out for them this week. The return of Jordan De Goey will give them a lift, but they’re still missing six of their starting 22. The Crows also have their injury concerns, but they’ve shown against Richmond and St Kilda that they’re still a formidable force and can cover their personnel issues very well. Collingwood is yet to win at Adelaide Oval and the Pies will have to wait to break their duck at the ground.
RONNY’S TIP: Adelaide by 38 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 30 points.

GWS v FREMANTLE (Manuka Oval, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
The Dockers have their tails up on the back of consecutive wins over Essendon and Gold Coast, so it comes as no surprise that they haven’t made any changes to their side this week. The Giants welcome back Toby Greene and Ryan Griffen, but lose Josh Kelly (groin) and Rory Lobb (knee) to injury. What a difference an up-and-about Nat Fyfe makes to a side. The 2015 Brownlow medallist is just about back to his best and has been leading Freo superbly this year. But the Giants are a different class of side to the ones the Dockers have faced in the past fortnight and coming off a hard-fought loss to local rivals Sydney, expect them to be all fired up at a ground where Freo has only ever played at once before, back in 2002.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 29 points.
ROCO’S TIP: GWS by 42 points.

RICHMOND v BRISBANE (MCG, Saturday 2.10pm local time)
There is no doubt Brisbane is a tougher nut to crack this year than last. Despite still being winless, the Lions look much more organised under Chris Fagan. New recruits Charlie Cameron and Luke Hodge, as well as Allen Christensen (who missed all of 2017 due to a shoulder injury) have injected new life into the side, while ruckman Stef Martin has been a colossus on the ball. Unfortunately for them they face another tough task this week and they’re probably going to have to wait longer for their first win of 2018. Richmond at the MCG is one of the toughest tasks in football right now given the reigning premier has won 14 of its last 16 there. Now that Melbourne has finally beaten North Melbourne, expect the Tigers to become outright holders of the longest active club-versus-club winning streak when they make it 12 in a row against the Lions on Saturday.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 27 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Richmond by 48 points.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v SYDNEY (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
What a difference one week makes. According to some media reports last week, Whitten Oval was on the verge of imploding. But a super win over Essendon has changed all of that and, importantly, the Dogs look like they’re developing a talented new breed of young players. The Swans are a tough ask, though. Yes, they might have lost key position planks Sam Reid (quad) and Lewis Melican (hamstring) to injury, but they’re still such a dangerous outfit. The suspension of Bulldogs defender Zaine Cordy after doing such a good job on Joe Daniher is massive given they will face the most dangerous forward in the game in Lance Franklin this week, and have other key defensive options still out injured.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 22 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 16 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE v CARLTON (Blundstone Arena, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
Carlton coach Brendon Bolton has managed to avoid meaningful heat in his first 47 games as coach, but the blowtorch will officially start firing up this weekend if the Blues fail to beat fellow strugglers North Melbourne and remain rooted, winless, to the bottom of the ladder. It’s not going to be easy for Carlton. Brad Scott has had his Kangaroos giving it a red-hot crack in each of their three games so far this year and they appear as though they’ve got a lot of belief in themselves. Robbie Tarrant’s a huge inclusion, too. On the flip side, Caleb Marchbank (ankle) is a big out for the Blues. Carlton has never been to Hobart before, but if it has another concentration lapse like the one which allowed Collingwood to boot 10 goals in a row last week, the Blues may not want to return to the mainland!
RONNY’S TIP: North Melbourne by 17 points.
ROCO’S TIP: North Melbourne by 22 points.

WEST COAST v GOLD COAST (Optus Stadium, Saturday 8.10pm local time)
Who would’ve thought pre-season that this would be billed as a clash between two of the year’s biggest surprise packets? It’s only early, but both sides have so far defied the naysayers to sit pretty with 2-1 win-loss records. You’d think the Eagles should get the job done, but by the time the game starts, the Suns will have spent 10 days in Perth as they played a “home game” against Freo at Optus Stadium last week. Stuart Dew’s men should be nice and settled, which is a huge advantage, but with Josh Kennedy back in the team, expect West Coast to celebrate Mark LeCras’ 200th game and Nic Naitanui’s 150th game in style.
RONNY’S TIP: West Coast by 27 points.
ROCO’S TIP: West Coast by 36 points.

ESSENDON v PORT ADELAIDE (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
If the Bombers continue playing like they have so far this season (bar the final quarter against Adelaide in round one), they are absolutely no hope. Alarming skill errors, lack of intensity or pressure and a distinct absence of genuine leadership personified their embarrassing performance against the Western Bulldogs last week. They now come up against the undefeated, ladder-leading Power who, it must be said, have issues of their own after only scraping past lowly Brisbane at Adelaide Oval last week. The absence of Sam Powell-Pepper due to a club suspension will hurt and Essendon will miss the dash of defender Conor McKenna, who is suspended as well. Port Adelaide should win this one, but it would be such an “Essendon” thing to do if the Bombers pulled a victory out of nowhere against a premiership contender following a pair of lacklustre efforts against Freo and the Dogs, neither of whom are expected to make the finals.
RONNY’S TIP: Essendon by 19 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 12 points.

HAWTHORN v MELBOURNE (MCG, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
This is the match of the round and it promises to be an absolute beauty. The revitalised Hawks up against the emerging Demons. Once again, Tom Mitchell looms as the key to Hawthorn’s hopes. The ball magnet has amassed 136 disposals at an average of 45.33 in the first three rounds and is also the club’s runaway leader for clearances, inside 50s and contested possessions. The Hawks get firebrand James Sicily back from suspension, while Melbourne has named Angus Brayshaw and Jayden Hunt in its extended squad. The Dees will push the Hawks, but Alastair Clarkson’s side looks slightly stronger at the moment.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 15 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Melbourne by 6 points.

GEELONG v ST KILDA (Kardinia Park, Sunday 4.40pm local time)
As woeful as the Saints have been this year, bizarrely they are a mini sniff in this game courtesy of the Cats’ mounting injury toll. Geelong does get back Mitch Duncan this week, but the Cats will be without Gary Ablett (hamstring), Nakia Cockatoo (knee), Cam Guthrie (ankle), Lachie Henderson (knee) and Harry Taylor (foot). Those are some serious holes that have been punched in the Cats’ line-up. Unfortunately for the Saints, with an average of 68 points per game this year, they simply cannot kick a winning score. It would take something special for them to win their first game at Geelong’s home ground since 1999.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 31 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 40 points.

RONNY’S SEASON TOTAL: 18
ROCO’S SEASON TOTAL: 17

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