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Sport The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 15

05:45  24 june  2021
05:45  24 june  2021 Source:   theroar.com.au

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That’s much, much more like it!

Round 13 was horrifically unlucky, but last week was just sublime. Is it really a ‘perfect’ round if there were only five games? After the shocking year I’ve had, it absolutely is.

In fact, last week’s five out of five will go down in the annals of tipping history as one of the most courageous and significant achievements.

Okay, fine. Dem Panopoulos and the Crowd scored a perfect five too. However, Liam Salter’s paltry four means he’s now two points adrift of Dem in the lead and now just two points ahead of me.

With nine-game rounds from here until finals, who knows what twists and turns we’ll be treated to?

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Stirling Coates

Geelong, Richmond, Gold Coast, Collingwood, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs, Carlton

This is a deceptively tricky week. By my count, there are only three matches you really can’t make a case for one side.

Those games are tomorrow night’s game between Richmond and St Kilda (can you believe this is a semi-final rematch?) and Saturday night’s showdown between Essendon and Melbourne.

The Tigers will put the Saints to the sword and the well-rested Demons will give the Bombers a little reality check.

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You could make the case for Sydney against Port Adelaide given the Power’s struggles against top eight teams, but the Swans look to be limping through the second half of the season and I suspect they’ll cop a bruising.

With those games out of the way, it’s blockbuster city! Tonight’s round-opener is probably the hardest match to tip so far this season. Brisbane have turned their home ground into the Gabbatoir again in 2021, winning their last five games there by an average of 44 points.

Geelong, on the other hand, look simply irresistible. We harped on about how their wins were unimpressive for much of the season, but the facts are as follows. They’ve lost three games this season; a Round 1 ambush against Adelaide, a hard-fought loss to the ladder-leading Demons and a controversial two-point loss to Sydney. They’ve won their last six in a row, knocking off Richmond, Port Adelaide and the Bulldogs in that time.

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They also have a monstrously good record against Brisbane – including a 40-point win in last year’s preliminary final. Winning streaks don’t last forever, but the Cats are just in such good form I can’t ignore them.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Suns have been copping it in the press for a fortnight and, while I’ve been a bit guilty of joining in myself, it’s been a bit out of whack. Do people not realise that putting the exact same group of players in green jumpers and moving their home games to Tasmania won’t actually change anything on the field?

Anyway, here’s a quick quiz question; how long is Gold Coast’s current losing streak?

The correct answer is two! Two whole losses! North Melbourne are a much, much better side in Hobart, but I’m going to back the Suns to stand up for themselves and claim the points.

Let’s do another quiz question. How many times have Greater Western Sydney defeated Hawthorn away from Giants Stadium?

The correct answer is zero! They’ve never lost to the Hawks at Homebush but they’ve never defeated them elsewhere. Hawthorn have looked much sharper coming out of the bye and I’m going to back them to upset the flaky Giants now that they’re playing at the MCG.

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The Western Bulldogs very nearly broke an 18-year hoodoo against Geelong last Friday night and, despite the loss, still proved they’re good enough in 2021 for home ground advantage to not be a factor when you play them.

West Coast’s struggles against top four sides are still to big to ignore, however, and I reckon their win over Richmond proved the Tigers are easing off rather than affirming their own flag chances. Bulldogs in a thriller.


Video: Cornes' warning to Dons over Stringer (Wide World of Sports)

Finally, I’m going to back the first game under a new coach factor in boosting Collingwood to an upset over Freo, while the last match of the round feels exactly like the match the giant-killing Crows of 2021 will drop.

The Shoe-In of the Week will be first game I discussed; Richmond to cut the Saints to ribbons.

Dem Panopoulos

Brisbane, Richmond, North Melbourne, Fremantle, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, GWS Giants, West Coast, Adelaide

After wanting the byes to be over, last week’s tipping was so simple that I’m advocating five game rounds year round.

Let the season take all 52 weeks if that’s what it takes.

A return to normality brings forth some really good fixtures, none better than Thursday night.

The Cats are on fire, there’s no doubt about it. There are multiple ways they can break down the opposition, and the experience within the team keeps the calm under pressure. Brisbane have a bit to prove after failing their first big challenge against the Demons. They’re still my tip for the flag, and I’ll back them to fix up their horrendous record in this fixture.

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Having been super critical of St Kilda last week, it makes sense for them to come out and beat the Tigers, doesn’t it? Rowan Marshall and Tim Membrey potentially returning would certainly cause issues for Richmond’s defence, but it won’t be enough.

North Melbourne are actually seen as the team more likely to win against the Suns, who could’ve possibly though that would happen in 2021? Indeed, I’m of the same thinking, particularly in Tasmania.

The Suns have been horrific, they just need to play attacking footy and see if that’s any better than this controlling style with average kicking skills.

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Fremantle have won four games at the MCG from their last nine attempts, however none of those have been by more than four points. It’s quite incredible, and the Magpies are much improved, keeping games pretty tight. I have a feeling people will be picking the home team, I’ll be a contrarian here.

I’m expecting the Demons to be able to set up well behind the ball to limit the aerial impact of Harrison Jones, which was the key behind Essendon’s narrow victory over the Hawks. I wouldn’t be too concerned of Jake Stringer’s dominance in this game.

You all know my thoughts on Port Adelaide this season so I won’t bore you with that, I just happen to think Sydney isn’t much better. Power at home.

GWS should do the job at home against an improving Hawthorn team that is showing some really good signs, not unexpectedly.

The Eagles will have a heap of their stars returning in time for this mouthwatering clash at home against the Bulldogs. They’ve won the two previous clashes at Optus Stadium by an average of 57.5 points which is enough for me.

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Finally, we wrap it up with the match everyone will be happy to skip over, Carlton against the Crows. If the Blues lose, David Teague’s position may well be untenable. Adelaide have won four of their last five at Marvel and six of their last seven against the Blues.

Ominous.

Liam Salter

Brisbane, Richmond, North Melbourne, Fremantle, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, GWS Giants, West Coast, Adelaide

So close to five out of five last week! Damn my tip of Hawthorn!

In better news, we’re out of the bye rounds, which means we’ve got, at long last, a full suite of games this week.

There are several exciting games this week – none more so than tonight’s beauty in Brisbane – but that also means there’s worryingly few certain tips. I’m reluctantly tipping Adelaide over Carlton in Sunday’s twilight clash – the latter are favoured, but I don’t trust them, whereas I have a modicum of trust in the topsy-turvy Crows. Despite the Bombers steadily improving, beating the superb Demons seems a bridge too far.

One game I’m almost certainly sure will go as planned is Richmond very, very comfortably beating the Saints tomorrow night.

As for tonight’s game, Geelong have shown over the past fortnight they’re an irrefutable premiership contender by beating two other flag fancies. For most teams, the Lions in Brisbane are a challenging encounter – but Geelong tend to be the challenger. The Lions have only beaten them once anywhere since 2018 – at this venue, by one point. The other one point result – their controversial loss in April – will give them extra spark, and I’m tipping them to nab this one.

I’m morbidly excited to see the North-Gold Coast game. I know it isn’t going to be good, but sometimes clashes like these have potential for surprises. North have been competitive in most of their recent games, while the Suns have been horrific in the last fortnight.

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Gold Coast have never played in Hobart – losing all five times they’ve played in Tassie overall – and that’s reason enough to back the Kangaroos, who are overdue for a win.

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Collingwood enter the post-Nathan Buckley era with a match against Freo. The Dockers have a poor interstate record, and are wildly inconsistent, but the probable returns of Nat Fyfe and Matt Taberner swing me in their favour, just.

The two New South Wales sides – newly evacuated from the state – have intriguing clashes. The Giants will now play the Hawks at the MCG (Canberra’s Manuka Oval was ignored for some reason). They tend to match up well against Hawthorn of late and, despite the Hawks being a better side than the ladder suggests, will win this.

The Swans play Port in Adelaide on Saturday night. The Power have split their results in the last two weeks, while Sydney stumbled with a shock loss against the Hawks. It’s Port who are weirdly heavy favourites here, but I’m not so sure. They’ve lost Robbie Gray for a few weeks and, despite a superb recent record over the Swans, this screams upset. I’ll still tip them, but hesitantly.

Finally, the Eagles host the Dogs on Sunday afternoon. The last two wins in this head-to-head have gone to the Dogs, but news of the Eagles’ returning quartet – Tim Kelly, Jeremy McGovern, Luke Shuey and Brad Sheppard – is as good a result as they would have desired. I maintain the Dogs are the better side, but remain weakened in the midfield, and have won just once at Optus Stadium. I’ll back the Eagles.

Round 15 Stirling Dem Liam Crowd
BL vs GEE GEE BL BL ?
RCH vs STK RCH RCH RCH ?
COL vs FRE COL FRE FRE ?
NM vs GCS GCS NM NM ?
PA vs SYD PA PA PA ?
ESS vs MEL MEL MEL MEL ?
GWS vs HAW HAW GWS GWS ?
WCE vs WB WB WCE WCE ?
CAR vs ADE CAR ADE ADE ?
Last week 5 5 4 5
Total 74 78 76 77

Administrative reform long overdue as Michael Warner’s book The Boys’ Club ignored by the AFL .
A new book by football journalist Michael Warner examines the underbelly of AFL administration, but it remains to be seen whether the catalogue of scandals will lead to introspection.The shift in tone told a story. How swiftly chief executive Gillon McLachlan had lurched from his early-March observation that "exposure for us is limited" to an admission three weeks later that the season was suspended and football's empire on the brink of financial ruin.

usr: 31
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