AFL Round 4 Preview

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WELL, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Essendon’s Connor Mckenna has tested positive for COVID-19, throwing the league into a tailspin. Luckily, the rounds will go ahead and the worst that will come of it is that only two of Essendon players will need to quarantine. This leaves us with a huge round 4 to dissect:

Sydney V Western Bulldogs

A new round of footy gets underway as the Doggies travel to the SCG to take on the Swans.

The Bulldogs ($1.96) are heading into this match off the back of their first win this season against the Giants, beating them by 4 goals. Strong games from Macrae (25 disposals) and Daniel (23 disposals) buoyed Bontempelli (16 disposals and a goal) towards his first win as captain. The Dogs looked gritty and tough as the likes of Naughton went through three Guernseys throughout the game, much to the pleasure of Luke Beveridge who wanted to see a response from his club after getting thrashed by Collingwood and St Kilda.

Sydney ($1.83) just seem to keep defying everyone’s expectation. Many pundits (myself included) predicted the Swans to finish in the lower rung of the ladder, but they now sit 2-1 (The loss coming against Essendon by 6 points) after pulling off an upset win against the undefeated Kangaroos. In the absence of Franklin, the likes of Papley, Heeney and Blakey all hit the scoreboard and will need to continue to do so if they wish to keep winning games.

Sydney has won 3 of their last 5 games against the Dogs, but this will ultimately prove to be the most defining game thus far for both these clubs. Can the Dogs back up their impressive performance or will the Swans continue to defy expectations? I want to see more from the Dogs before I trust them again, and will be tipping the Swans.

Prediction: Swans by 15

GWS Giants V Collingwood

Next up we have the Pies traveling over to Spotless Stadium to take on the Giants.

Collingwood ($1.70) has been arguably the most impressive team this season to date. They seem to be flourishing in the shorter quarters and will see an even bigger boost with Treloar almost certain to return for this game. This will further bolster a midfield that dismantled St Kilda (Sidebottom-31 disposals, Pendlebury-26 disposals) and dominated clearances (32 to 21).

The Giants ($2.14) are in a bit of a slump after getting outplayed two consecutive weeks. Their delivery inside 50 leaves a lot to be desired (44.8% in round 3) and partly explains why last year’s Coleman Medallist has only had 2 goals in the last 2 rounds. They will be hoping that Whitefield, Kelly, and Greene will be fit for this game, as they will ultimately be the deciding factor if the Giants come out on top.

The Giants have won 4 of the last 5 matches against the Magpies, but the way the Magpies are traveling, I don’t see them losing this match.

Prediction- Collingwood by 20

Port Adelaide V West Coast

A battle of the hub teams takes place as Port Adelaide take on the Eagles.

The sole undefeated team is Port Adelaide ($1.58) after 3 rounds, however, as was the case last week, it is hard to tell just how impressive these wins have been as they have all come against sides expected to finish near the bottom of the ladder. They dominated all fronts of the game against Fremantle, with Dixon and Westhoff combining for 4 goals and their midfielders winning the clearance count comfortably.

The Eagles ($2.34) have been the most disappointing team by far when you consider what many expected them to do this season after the acquisition of Kelly. Their loss against the Lions marks their second in a row, with their performances only a shadow of what they were last year. The Hub may be affecting the Eagles more than other teams, but nonetheless, they must right this ship now before it becomes too late and ultimately miss finals.

In normal circumstances, this would be considered the Power’s first genuine test, but the Eagles are severely out of form and they haven’t shown enough to prove they can beat the undefeated Port Adelaide.

Prediction– Power by 17

St Kilda V Richmond

A Saturday Twilight clash between St Kilda and Richmond at Marvel Stadium.

For St Kilda ($2.74), many saw their game against Collingwood as a good chance to get an indication of where they sit. They ended up falling 44 point losers and were down for the entirety of the match. Many players were down on their performance when compared to the win against the Dogs. Most notably Jack Billings, who only amassed 16 disposals after an incredible 24 disposal, 3 goal performance in the week prior. Ryder and Marshall were beaten comfortably in the ruck and made it hard for St Kilda to kick goals.

Similarly, Richmond ($1.44) has put forth their worst performance at the MCG in recent memory. Labeled as an ‘un-Richmondlike game’ by Hardwick, they struggled to get anything going, only kicking 5 goals for the match. They made a charge late in the game, but it was ultimately to late for a Richmond outfit that sorely missed the line-breaker Martin.

Marvel Stadium favors the Saints, but I don’t see Richmond having two bad games in a row and think that they should dismantle St Kilda in response

Prediction– Richmond by 32

Essendon V Carlton

Essendon take on old rivals Carlton at the MCG on Saturday Night

Essendon has received a blessing, not having to quarantine its whole defensive unit, and instead, only having to quarantine Mckenna and Stewart. They will be hoping to regain Fantasia, whom Essendon hope can help them towards a 3-0 start.

Carlton managed to pull off arguably the upset of the season so far. Geelong was deemed unbeatable by many at GMHBA, but Carlton took this challenge headfirst and went into the three quarter time break with a 35 point lead. Geelong charged home in the last quarter, but it ultimately proved too late as Carlton registered their first win of the season after a huge performance from Brownlow fancy Cripps (24 disposals, 2 goals) and an influential performance from Betts (12 disposals, 2 goals).

It is hard to say what impact the COVID-19 scare has had on the bombers, but judging their first two games, they should take care of Carlton with most of their squad intact, albeit it should be close.

Prediction– Essendon by 7

Gold Coast Suns V Fremantle

The Rampaging Suns take on the Dockers at Metricon Stadium

Who would have thought that the Suns ($1.68) would be 2-1 after three rounds? Rowell looks like a Brownlow contender in only his third game after an unbelievable 20 disposal, 2 goals, 10 tackle game against the Crows. Ben King also chipped in with 3 goals of his own, and young gun MacPherson booted two as well. It will be interesting to see whether the Suns can maintain this form, as young teams are known to fizzle out in the later parts of the year, but the shortened quarters might actually benefit them in this aspect.

Fremantle ($2.16) are yet to win a game this season, although they have been competitive in their losses. Yet again, they relied on Fyfe and Walters far too much, and they will not be able to win games for the Dockers on their own. Jesse Hogan was kept goalless in his return game, so expect him to bounce back and kick some goals in this game.

Although the Suns are favorites and deservedly so, I think this is an opportunity for the Dockers to notch their first win of the season after becoming accustomed to their new home ground.

Prediction– Fremantle by 19

Brisbane Lions V Adelaide Crows

The Lions host the Crows at the Gabba as they look towards their third win of the season

The Lions ($1.13) have responded well after their round 1 loss against Hawthorn, and are playing the brand of footy that fans are used to seeing from the surprise packet of 2019. Lauchie Neale ripped the Eagles midfield apart last week with 32 disposals and 2 goals, leading the Lions to come out on top of all the important statistical categories such as contested possessions, clearances, and efficiency inside 50.

The Crows ($5.70) are a different tale altogether, being embarrassed for the second consecutive week, this time by the Suns, who many predicted to finish at the bottom of the ladder. It’s not too far a stretch to say that the Crows are now wooden spoon favorites, but it is not too late for them. They have quality players on their list that have played well together in the past. Nicks will be looking to extract anything positive from this match to reignite the Crows season

Nicks is expected to swing the selection ax for this game, which will hopefully see the Crows become infinitely more competitive, but as it stands, the Lions should beat the Crows

Prediction- Brisbane by 20

Melbourne V Geelong

Melbourne host Geelong in what looms to be the most interesting match of the round.

There isn’t much to say about the Demons ($2.58) since their match last week was postponed, but they will be using this game as an opportunity to gauge where they are at in terms of the rest of the competition. Petracca, Oliver, and Gawn led the way for the Demons resulting in their first win of the season over Carlton. Their star players will need to bring a similar level of performance in order to match it against Geelong’s midfield.

Geelong ($1.49) was beaten at their home ground by Carlton of all teams, by a slim 2 points. They seemed to be playing half asleep in the first three quarters but then turned it on in the last quarter to ultimately fall short. Duncan was instrumental in their fightback (12 disposals in the last quarter), but this performance was needed much earlier in the game.

A week off may further reenergize the Dees, but expect Geelong to come away with the 4 points after an almost definite spray by Chris Scott

Prediction– Geelong by 25

Hawthorn V North Melbourne

The last game of the round is a beauty as Hawthorn takes on North Melbourne at Marvel.

Hawthorn ($1.59) responded against Richmond after getting dismantled by the Cats, and what a response it was. The Hawks knocked off the reigning premiers at the MCG by 32 points. The usual suspects were prevalent in Smith, Mitchell, Sicily, and O’Meara, all contributing to the impressive win. On the other end of the ground, Wingard and Gunston combined for 5 goals against Richmonds stellar defense.

North Melbourne ($2.32) were unable to go 2-0 as they fell victim to the Swans by 11 points after a late fightback wasn’t enough to secure the chocolates. On a positive note, Brown finally got back to his dominant best, booting 3 goals, and Jy Simpkin continued his breakout year with a 26 disposal, 1 goal game.

This will be one of the most entertaining matches of the round, but Hawthorn should be well equipped to come out on top after beating the reigning premiers.

Prediction– Hawthorn by 21

Daniel’s Multi

Richmond to beat St Kilda $1.44

Fremantle to beat Suns $2.16

Geelong to beat Melbourne $1.49

Hawthorn to beat North Melbourne $1.59

Total odds $7.37

With the 20% multi boost a $25 bet will pay $216