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Previews with punch – Round 6

The ruck battle between Richmond’s Toby Nankervis and Collingwood’s Brodie Grundy could be pivotal to Sunday’s big clash. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Previews with punch – Round 6

Ronny Lerner    

WESTERN BULLDOGS v CARLTON (Etihad Stadium, Friday 7.50pm local time)
Well, this game might be scheduled for Friday night, but the term “blockbuster” isn’t exactly fitting. With just one win between these two sides after five weeks, you get the feeling the head honchos at AFL HQ would have liked their time over again when settling on the 2018 fixture back in October. Bulldogs-Carlton is the last combination of Victorian teams not to feature under Friday night lights, so they will relish this unprecedented meeting in the coveted timeslot. But the same probably can’t be said for supporters of the 16 other clubs! Carlton’s effort levels improved dramatically against West Coast last week, but the Bulldogs are probably more trustworthy at this stage and they should ensure the Blues start a season 0-6 for the first time in their history.
RONNY’S TIP: Western Bulldogs by 19 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Western Bulldogs by 24 points.

GEELONG v SYDNEY (Kardinia Park, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
On paper it should be one of the most anticipated games of the round, but massive injury lists for both clubs will overshadow it to a degree. The Cats are without Gary Ablett, Nakia Cockatoo, Cam Guthrie, Lachie Henderson, Daniel Menzel and Harry Taylor, while the Swans are missing Lance Franklin, Dan Hannebery, Dean Towers, Lewis Melican, Sam Naismith and Sam Reid. Sydney has won its past two matches at the Cattery, but the hosts have shown an incredible capacity to cover the absence of key personnel in recent weeks and they should get the job done again.
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 25 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 6 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE v PORT ADELAIDE (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 2.10pm local time)
Who would have thought North Melbourne would be sitting in the top four after five rounds? Certainly not this writer. In fact, like many others, I had them winning the wooden spoon! The Kangaroos have been the surprise packet of 2018 so far and, thanks largely to all their senior players firing on all cylinders, they have proven to be a force to be reckoned with. All three of their wins to date have been thrashings and they are playing a breathtaking, free-flowing brand of football with which opposition teams are struggling to cope. After a bright first fortnight, the cracks have already begun appearing in the Power’s fragile shell in the past three matches, and it’s hard to see them turning things around this weekend.
RONNY’S TIP: North Melbourne by 29 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 16 points.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY v BRISBANE (Spotless Stadium, Saturday 4.35pm local time)
Besides their capitulation against Richmond in round four, the Lions have been extremely competitive this season. However, they just keep falling short, and unfortunately for the young cubs, they’re going to remain winless this weekend when they tackle a GWS team smarting from drawing with St Kilda after being in a winning position for most of the day. It’s the Giants’ first game back at their established home ground for the year and, given they have beaten Brisbane in their last four meetings by an average of 54 points, their fans should be treated to a nice, easy kill first up.
RONNY’S TIP: GWS by 73 points.
ROCO’S TIP: GWS by 54 points.

HAWTHORN v ST KILDA (York Park, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
All of a sudden, this doesn’t look as certain for the Hawks as it may have done just a couple of weeks ago. Cyril Rioli, Paul Puopolo, Liam Shiels and Grant Birchall are all out injured, while James Sicily finds himself suspended for the second time this season. The absence of Rioli and Puopolo in particular seemed to really hurt them last week against the Kangaroos. Conversely, the Saints recorded a morale-boosting draw against premiership contenders GWS last week and head to Launceston comforted by the knowledge that almost a year ago to the day they smashed the Hawks at the same venue by 75 points in what was Hawthorn’s only loss there since 2012. Hawthorn should get the job done, but it won’t be easy.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 11 points.
ROCO’S TIP: St Kilda by 2 points.

ADELAIDE v GOLD COAST (Adelaide Oval, Saturday 7.10pm local time)
To the Suns’ credit, they’ve performed above expectations so far this year and head into this clash with the same win-loss record as Adelaide (3-2). The Crows have had an up-and-down start to the year and although they were embarrassed by Collingwood last time they played at Adelaide Oval, they made a big statement in round five by beating Sydney at the SCG without a raft of key players. While they lose another pair of important defensive cogs in Jake Kelly and Kyle Hartigan to injury, they do regain important midfield pair Matt Crouch and David Mackay. Adelaide has never lost to Gold Coast, and the Crows will make it 11 from 11 this weekend.
RONNY’S TIP: Adelaide by 26 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 38 points.

ESSENDON v MELBOURNE (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
This match looms as a “mockbuster” for the ages between two sides that promised so much in season 2018, yet have delivered so little. With just two wins each this year, both sides find themselves nestled in the bottom third of the ladder with their finals hopes already in a spot of bother. While the Demons have been disappointing, they could so easily have three wins next to their name if Max Gawn kicked straight in round one, while they put up a real fight against Richmond on Tuesday despite what the 46-point margin might suggest. The Bombers were pitiful against Collingwood and have been average at best this season. Their midfield is sub-par, they look downright confused at times out on the ground and Melbourne should be able to take advantage.
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 24 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Essendon by 2 points.

COLLINGWOOD v RICHMOND (MCG, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
Don’t despair too much about the prospect of Essendon facing Melbourne on Sunday, because the match of the round will begin just a couple of hours later between two of the league’s powerhouse clubs, both of whom are in red-hot form. It’s being billed as the biggest meeting between traditional rivals Collingwood and Richmond since the 1980 grand final. The largest home-and-away crowd attracted by these two teams was 92,436 back in 1977 and the AFL would be feeling confident that record could be in danger. The Magpies have been playing exhilarating football under Nathan Buckley, while the Richmond machine has continued to roll on unabated since the Tigers claimed the flag last year. Collingwood’s speed, midfield and small forward line will certainly test the Tigers, but Richmond at the MCG is now the toughest task in football. They have won their last 11 games at the ground for the first time since 1975, and no other team plays the ground better. The Tigers have more gears and are just a level above.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 23 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Richmond by 22 points.

FREMANTLE v WEST COAST (Optus Stadium, Sunday 2.40pm local time)
And who would have thought pre-season that the first Western Derby of the year would be a highly-anticipated contest? Both WA teams headed into 2018 with low expectations attached to them, but they have proven the naysaysers wrong so far with some very solid form lines. Optus Stadium has already become a fortress for both sides with just one loss from six matches combined, so there’ll certainly be no home ground advantage for either team. Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters are in sizzling form for the Dockers, while West Coast looks so much better with Nic Naitanui and Josh Kennedy back in the side. This has all the makings of a thriller and the Eagles should just scrape home to make it five wins on the trot.
RONNY’S TIP: West Coast by 5 points.
ROCO’S TIP: West Coast by 10 points.


1 Comment
  1. “They (Melbourne) put up a real fight against Richmond on Tuesday despite what the 46-point margin might suggest”

    And yet at the ground I and everyone who saw the game live thought the scoreboard flattered Melbourne. Could have easily blown out to 80+ points if Richmond had not fluffed quite a few easy opportunities.

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