Round 6 of the AFL looms to be the most interesting round of the modern era, with no games being played in Victoria and all games being played within the confines of NSW and Brisbane. Fans have been clamouring for a fairer season for years, with many unsatisfied with the way the AFL fixturing has served as an advantage to certain teams, and now they get a glimpse into how neutral grounds will work in the national competition. No home ground advantage for most sides means football for the will be played in its purest form. May the best teams come out with 4 points.
Geelong V Brisbane
If there were a positive of the floating fixture, this game would be an example. The 2nd placed Lions take on the 3rd placed Cats to kick off the round of footy at the SCG.
The Lion’s ($1.62) head into this match in red hot form, winning their last four games and knocking off the previously undefeated Power by a comfortable 37 points. The SCG is a notoriously short ground, and hence the team that wins the midfield battle will give their forwards a remarkable opportunity to kick some goals. Brisbane have dominated the contested possession stats in their last four games, indicating a strong and tough midfield, and with Lauchie Neale currently leading the AFL in disposals with 7 clearances per game (putting him in the elite category), Geelong will need to put forth a mighty effort to curb their collective influence.
Geelong ($2.20) have put aside their blip against Carlton, and are now aiming to take their streak to three wins in a row, and cement themselves near the top of the ladder. The Cats seem to have no issue in the midfield department, winning the inside 50 count 4 times out of their 5 games, including in their two losses against GWS and the Blues. Hawkins is coming off a 3-goal game against the Suns, and will pivotal in the outcome of this match if the Cats continue their midfield aggression.
These teams both have a remarkable midfield, and both rank in the top 3 in goals kicked. The Cats are used to training at a much longer ground in GMHBA, but their undefeated record at the SCG dates back to 2014, indicating that this isn’t an inhibiting factor. I think Geelong will cause an upset and overtake Brisbane’s second spot.
Prediction: Geelong by 17
Collingwood V Hawthorn
In normal circumstances, this game in this time slot would see a massive crowd. Nonetheless, I expect this game to have the same blockbuster value.
The Pies ($1.65) were looking like the best team in the competition just a mere three weeks ago, but Footy is a dynamic sport, and with their most recent loss against the Bombers, they have only won one game since the season resumption. Looking at their two most recent games, they have dominated the hit-out count (55 to 21 against GWS, 41 to 13 against Essendon), yet have remarkably lost the clearance count (31 to 36 against GWS, 28 to 38 against Essendon). Perhaps this is a sign that teams have started to understand how to play effectively Brodie Grundy, or it may simply be that Collingwood’s midfielders are out of form. His matchup against Ceglar will go a long way to answering that question.
Hawthorn ($2.22) is in severe trouble heading into this matchup, although their record may not show it. They have gathered two wins since the season restart, both of which Clarkson would be far from content with when examining their losses. After suffering a 61 point defeat at the hands of the Cats, many thought that was an outlier after they took care of Richmond by 32 points and snuck home against the Roos by four. Since then, we have come to realize that Richmond is a shadow of their past selves (at least for now) and North Melbourne is a bottom half team. Their game against GWS allowed them to prove themselves as a good side this season, but they were severely outplayed, conceding twice as many goals in the second half as they had scored. They allowed the Giants to take 62 more marks, and gain 21 more contested possessions. A loss against the Pies would put severe doubts into their ability to finish in the top 8.
A win is crucial for both sides as they find themselves on the outskirts on the top eight. Hawthorn has been wildly inconsistent, and imagining three losses in a row for the Pies is a tough ask,
Prediction: Collingwood by 25
Fremantle V St Kilda
Fremantle regain Fyfe but lose Hogan and Logue for this crucial clash against St Kilda
The Dockers ($3) got their first win in 2020 last round against Adelaide, and albeit it was against a dismal team, they did show some good signs in the last quarter, outscoring Adelaide by 19 points to runaway 20 point winners. For the first time this season, the Dockers were forced to look to others, with Fyfe missing and Walters being kept relatively quiet (for his standards). A combination of young and old was on display, with old-timer Mundy (25 disposals) and young gun Brayshaw (23 disposals) proving to be crucial in the win. They will need to continue to have multiple contributors if they want to go two in a row.
St Kilda ($1.37) is playing confident football at the present, much to the delight of their fans who have been starved of on-field success as of late. They head into this match after touching up Richmond and beating the decent Blues. A remarkable statistic for St Kilda is that in every game that they have won the clearance count, they have gone on to win the game. If the likes of Billings, Ross, and Steele have solid games, then they are already halfway near a win.
Fremantle is a chance in this if they have multiple contributors, but with the way the Saints are going, I think they’ll be too strong
Prediction: St Kilda by 13
West Coast V Adelaide
The winless Crows will take on the Eagles in a game that could potentially place the Eagles in the eight.
Although I don’t want to jump the gun too early, I think it’s fair to say that the Eagles ($1.13) are back. Their win against Sydney was not only filled with a return to form for many with the likes of Sheed, Sheppard, Naitanui, and Yeo all having solid games, but it also marked the first time that West Coast have won the contested possession count this season, and they won it comfortably recording 24 more than the Swans. This game presents itself as a real opportunity for the Eagles to get some real momentum going, with their game after that coming against the Dockers.
The Crows ($5.6) are in all sorts of trouble this season, squandering their best opportunity to get on the board this season. However, they do show glimpses of a solid side, outscoring the Lions in the second half in Round 4 and being within only 3 points at the last break against the Dockers. They rank in the bottom 4 for clearances, bottom 4 for contested possessions, bottom 3 for one-percenters and bottom 4 for inside 50’s. There is no clear cut solution for Nicks’s team, in what looks like a long road ahead.
The Eagles should have no trouble taking care of the Crows unless we see a sudden resurrection.
Prediction: Eagles by 30
Melbourne V Gold Coast
A tough matchup to predict on Saturday night with the Demons taking on the Suns in Sydney.
The Demons ($1.68) are a tough team to get a read on at the moment. Their 2018 form is a long and distant memory, with the club only recording two wins in the last 12 months, both of which have come against Carlton. It’s hard to figure out exactly why this is the case though, as their list is more than capable. There is an indication of a lack of a dynamic game plan, wanting to play fast footy as they did against Richmond, playing on 35% of the time after taking a mark, way above the competition average. They will need to address this if they are to become a solid side once again.
The Suns ($2.16) got handed their first loss in 4 games against the Cats, although this was to be expected as young teams do struggle to maintain their form. That’s not to say that the Suns weren’t competitive, even going in front in the third quarter. However, the loss of Rowell proved to be very costly, and we will see how much it affects the Suns in this game.
The toughest game of the round to predict, but I am going with the Demons to come out as slight winners.
Prediction: Melbourne by 5
Essendon V North Melbourne
The Bombers will take on the Kangaroos at Metricon after sharing a flight with them earlier this season
Essendon ($1.60) bounced back remarkably after their loss against Carlton, running away 15 point winners against the Pies with many of their key players missing. Phillips was instrumental in the win, putting forth a competitive performance against Grundy, tallying 11 touches, and 13 hit-outs. They will regain Merrett, McKenna, and Francis for this clash, with Daniher and Draper coming close. Although, Stringer will miss the next 4 weeks, and as their main option in the forward line, it will be interesting to see what they put up against the Roos.
North Melbourne ($2.3) are coming off a dismal performance against the Dogs, recording 64 fewer disposals, 9 fewer marks inside 50, and 68 less uncontested possessions, indicating a severe lack of pressure. Don’t discount Shaw’s team yet though, as they have been competitive throughout the season and will be determined to bounce back.
North will come out hard this week whilst regaining Ziebell, but if the Bombers can replicate their performance from last round, then they will prove to be too strong.
Prediction: Essendon by 20
Port Adelaide V GWS
A battle of two top eight teams kicks off Sunday footy in what looms as one of the matches of the round.
The Power ($1.95) still sits at the top of the ladder after suffering their first loss of the season at the hands of the Lions. Alarm bells will be ringing for the Power, as this was there first true test after knocking off three bottom four caliber sides in Gold Coast, Fremantle and Adelaide, and after beating the out of form Eagles. If they can’t get the job done against the Giants, there will be genuine questions asked if their early form was just a result of the luck of the draw.
The Giants ($1.82) are coming off a satisfying win against the Hawks, in which they dominated possession and control of the game, tallying 62 more marks than their counterparts. Kelly returned to form with a 30 disposal game after a relatively quiet stretch, as their talls in Himmelberg, Finlayson, and Cameron combined for 10 goals, firing on all cylinders. This marks their second impressive win in a row, and if they can take care of the Power, they will be right in the discussion of premiership contention, especially with Taranto scheduled to make a return soon.
The Power had an opportunity to prove themselves and they failed, whilst the Giants are rolling on all fronts. Expect the Giants to make a statement.
Prediction: GWS by 30
Richmond V Sydney
The Tigers will ‘host’ the Swans at the Gabba, as the Tigers look to make it two in a row.
Richmond ($1.7) recorded their first win since the resumption, running away as 27 point winners against the Demons. Martin’s influence was noticeable after he missed their loss against the Saints, as he finished with 20 disposals and a goal. They had 8 goal kickers for the game, which may perhaps be a sign that they are back to their unselfish, strong selves. No Houli, Astbury, Edwards, Nankervis, and Prestia will be a challenge for them without a doubt, but they have overcome injuries in years past and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do it again.
The Swans ($2.08) are heading into this match as three out of their last four games. Their midfield was soundly beaten in their last game, conceding 13 fewer clearances than the Eagles. The Swans have always been solid under Longmire, but losing the contested possession count for the fourth week in a row is alarming, Similarly, they struggle to kick goals. Papley leads their goalscoring with 11, and Heeney has 7, but after that, there is no real goal scoring danger, with Lewis Taylor being next in like with 4. They will need a more spread-out performance from their forwards if they are to win some more games, and it all starts with their midfielders games.
Richmond has an absurd amount of outs for this clash, and Sydney will be competitive after losing two in a row. Sydney has real potential to pull off an upset.
Prediction: Sydney by 7
Carlton V Western Bulldogs
Round 6 ends with a clash between the Blues and the Doggies
Carlton ($2.48) failed to make it three in a row against the Saints, ultimately falling by 18 points. Cripps was impressive as always, as was Docherty and Martin. Last time the Blues played the Doggies, they finished as 3 point losers, even off the back of a 7 goal haul from Charlie Curnow. Curnow is unavailable this time around, but they will need a similar level of brilliance from someone other then Cripps to get across the line.
The Dogs ($1.53) are now positioned where many experts expected to see them, in the top eight. After a subpar performance against the Saints, the Doggies are now rolling after knocking off GWS, Sydney and North Melbourne. Their possession heavy game plan seems to be working, as they have controlled uncontested possessions in their last 3 games as well as disposals. Dunkley is a big loss, but they have more than enough depth to cover him.
The Blues have been competitive and have beaten some good sides, but Western Bulldogs should be too strong in this
Prediction: Bulldogs by 11
Collingwood to beat Hawthorn $1.65
Melbourne to beat Gold Coast $1.68
Essendon to beat North Melbourne $1.60
Sydney to beat Richmond $2.08
Total odds $9.20
With the Sportsbetting.com.au multi boost a $25 bet will pay $271