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Previews with punch – Round 7

Hawthorn’s Luke Breust, currently in great form, snaps for goal during the Hawks’ round one clash with Essendon last season. Photo: AFL MEDIA

Previews with punch – Round 7

Ronny Lerner    

GEELONG v GWS (Kardinia Park, Friday 7.50pm local time)
This is shaping up to be a contest between two pre-season contenders who just aren’t quite living up to expectations. The Cats are on the rebound after a shock loss to Sydney – their third in a row at home to the Swans – while the Giants are just going despite being third on the ladder. Both teams head into this blockbuster encounter missing a raft of key players. Geelong will have to make do without Gary Ablett (hamstring), Nakia Cockatoo (knee), Cam Guthrie (ankle), Lachie Henderson (knee), Daniel Menzel (groin), Brandan Parfitt (foot), Harry Taylor (foot) and George Horlin-Smith (concussion). The GWS absentees are headlined by Brett Deledio (hamstring), Jeremy Cameron (toe), Toby Greene (foot), Josh Kelly (groin), Adam Kennedy (knee), Rory Lobb (knee), Tom Scully (ankle) and Zac Williams (achilles). The depth of both will be tested once more, but the Cats rarely lose consecutive games at the Cattery and should get the job done. Redemption will also be a theme of this match with Geelong’s Stewart Crameri and GWS pair Lachie Keeffe and Dylan Buckley all playing their first games for their new clubs. Congratulations also to Sam Reid who finally plays his 50th game after more than nine years!
RONNY’S TIP: Geelong by 15 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Geelong by 22 points.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v GOLD COAST (Mars Stadium, Saturday 1.45pm local time)
The Bulldogs head to Ballarat for the second time and will be keen to score their first win in the regional centre after Port Adelaide gazumped them in the inaugural game for points there late last season. And they should be able to do just that against “The Traveling Wilbury” Gold Coast, who embark on their seventh consecutive game away from home minus Tom Lynch (knee), Brayden Fiorini (leg), Jesse Lonergan (knee) and Steven May (finger). The Dogs lose captain Easton Wood (hamstring) and they have a lengthy injury list of their own with no fewer than seven best-22 players missing from the line-up. But three of their last four games have been pretty good and they have their tails up following a morale-boosting win against Carlton.
RONNY’S TIP: Western Bulldogs by 32 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Western Bulldogs by 42 points.

ESSENDON v HAWTHORN (MCG, Saturday 2.10pm local time)
Essendon heads into this contest with its season arguably already on the line. Another loss to the Hawks would see the Bombers slide to 2-5 on the win-loss ledger and it would make finals an incredibly difficult prospect from there. Their game plan looks confusing, their skill level is deplorable and that is a recipe for disaster when coming up against a classy, slick outfit like the Hawks on the wide expanses of the MCG. Essendon’s last month of footy has been horrendous, except for the win against Port Adelaide, and based on that it’s hard to see the Dons trumping Alastair Clarkson’s men.
RONNY’S TIP: Hawthorn by 22 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Hawthorn by 18 points.

WEST COAST v PORT ADELAIDE (Optus Stadium, Saturday 2.35pm local time)
West Coast seems to be getting stronger and stronger with each passing week as it continues to make a mockery of the predictions of a huge drop down the ladder in 2018. The Eagles have now won their last five games and are aiming for six consecutive victories for the first time since 2015. Optus Stadium might be brand-spanking new, but Port Adelaide will take some confidence from the fact it has won its last two meetings against West Coast in Perth as well as three of the last six at Subiaco. Yes, the Power lose Chad Wingard to a hamstring injury, but they regain the services of All-Australian ruckman Paddy Ryder – and not with a moment to spare given the Power come up against the brilliant Nic Naitanui this week. The Power have been hot and cold so far this year and while they should provide the Eagles with a stern test, the hosts will prove too strong in the end.
RONNY’S TIP: West Coast by 10 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Port Adelaide by 2 points.

SYDNEY v NORTH MELBOURNE (SCG, Saturday 7.25pm local time)
You would think North Melbourne would garner some confidence from the fact that the Swans head into this game without Lance Franklin (heel), Dan Hannebery (groin), Lewis Melican (hamstring), Sam Reid (quad) and Sam Naismith (knee). But Sydney produced one of its best performances in some time last week without them when it defeated Geelong in Geelong as Callum Sinclair and Josh Kennedy led the charge magnificently. After a great start to the year, the Kangaroos probably had their worst game last week against Port Adelaide. Once upon a time the SCG was the Kangaroos’ home ground away from home, but they’re not going to feel very welcome there this time around.
RONNY’S TIP: Sydney by 27 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Sydney by 30 points.

ADELAIDE v CARLTON (Adelaide Oval, Saturday 7.10pm local time)
As if things couldn’t get any worse for winless Carlton, the Blues lose Charlie Curnow and Caleb Marchbank to injury this week. While they do regain Matthew Kreuzer, they will need a miracle to avoid extending their club-record worst start to a season to seven games. The Blues have lost their two games at the venue by an average of 97 points, and they can expect little mercy from their former stars Bryce Gibbs, Eddie Betts and Sam Jacobs when the ball is bounced.
RONNY’S TIP: Adelaide by 81 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Adelaide by 48 points.

RICHMOND v FREMANTLE (MCG, Sunday 1.10pm local time)
The premiership favourite Tigers are riding high as they continue to occupy top spot on the ladder after not having been there since 1995. Having just secured a club record 12th consecutive win at the MCG, Damien Hardwick’s men look invincible at the home of football. But Fremantle are one team that know what it takes to bring down Richmond on its home turf. Incredibly, the Dockers have won their last three games against the Tigers at the MCG, including a pair of match-winning goals from David Mundy in the last two thrillers. Another quirky stat which should give Freo confidence is that the away team has won the last six meetings between these two clubs. However, trends are there to be bucked. Richmond is clearly the best team in the comp right now and with more gears than any other side, should finally beat the Dockers at the MCG this week.
RONNY’S TIP: Richmond by 38 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Richmond by 28 points.

ST KILDA v MELBOURNE (Etihad Stadium, Sunday 3.20pm local time)
Little more than 12 months ago, a meeting between these two sides was billed as a clash between two up-and-coming sides heading towards a period of sustained success. Well, a year is a long time in football. The Saints have gone backwards at an alarming rate and don’t resemble a finals contender at all, while the Demons continue to tread water on the outskirts of the top eight. St Kilda’s skill level is appalling and the Saints’ kicking for goal looks as though it’s actually got worse even than last year. While the Demons aren’t exactly heavyweights, they seemed to have turned the corner somewhat in the last two games and should get the job done against the struggling Saints.
RONNY’S TIP: Melbourne by 18 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Melbourne by 36 points.

BRISBANE v COLLINGWOOD (Gabba, Sunday 4.40pm local time)
It looks as though it’s slowly but surely all coming together for the Magpies. After a very promising start to the year while dealing with personnel issues, they have named Travis Varcoe, Darcy Moore, Taylor Adams and Alex Fasolo in their 26-man squad this week. Defeating the Lions is a non-negotiable for a team that has designs on a finals berth this year. The winless Lions have been competitive in most of their games this year and won’t make it easy for the Magpies. But Nathan Buckley’s men have been in super form since round one and should win their fourth game of the year.
RONNY’S TIP: Collingwood by 22 points.
ROCO’S TIP: Collingwood by 24 points.


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