As we hit the home-and-away season’s final stretch, we’ve got a top-of-the-table blockbuster between Brisbane and St Kilda, two matches between up-and-coming young sides (Blues vs Suns, Dockers vs Swans), and some other intriguing clashes.
Certainly the hardest round to tip in a little while.
I picked up two crucial upsets last week (thanks Carlton and Melbourne) to score seven and move two points clear of Liam Salter atop the expert tipping panel. Both Liam and Marnie Cohen managed five points, while the Crowd only managed six, which sees their overall lead cut to six points.
Let’s try and navigate ourselves through this week.
Carlton, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Richmond, Sydney, Geelong, Brisbane, West Coast, Collingwood
For the first time in history, I’m excited for a Carlton vs Gold Coast match. Neither side is likely to play finals this year, but they’ve both turned the corner after an eon in the doldrums and could be starting a special rivalry. The Suns have been giving up a fair few inside 50s lately and that, coupled with the much shorter break, should see the Blues (who move the ball forward plenty) get over the line.
Melbourne, fresh off a 56-point demolition of Collingwood just a handful of days after a certain Roar editor was chastised for claiming they were on the way back, have a golden opportunity to solidify their spot in the eight. Their clicking tall-forward line will prove too much for the struggling Bulldogs back six to contain, as they continue their charge back to relevancy.
As bad as the Hawks have been in 2020, they’re still not the team you want to come up against after a dispiriting loss. Port Adelaide need to be on their toes here, but should reaffirm their top-four credentials with a strong win. The first truly easy game of the round comes later that night; Richmond should have no trouble swatting Essendon aside.
Normally, the loss of Dane Rampe would see me write the Swans off – their stunner against the Giants last week notwithstanding – but if there’s one team they can survive against without him, it’s the low-scoring Dockers. Swans to win by a rugby league score.
The match of the round has to be Brisbane and St Kilda’s date at the Gabba. Not only is it between two top sides, but also two sides who play a great brand of footy – I can’t wait to watch this one. The Lions have been wobbly over the last three weeks, whereas the Saints can partially chalk their heavy loss up to the short break. We’re in for a classic, but I’ll stick with the home side narrowly.
Greater Western Sydney’s poor showing against the Swans was not that out there I’m afraid and I expect West Coast to flex their muscle in Sunday night’s game with a thumping win. Collingwood are vulnerable against North Melbourne, but they’ll still get the job done.
This round’s Shoe-In of the Week might be the easiest tip of the year. If the AFL announced Sunday’s Adelaide vs Geelong match was being played underwater and the only the Crows were allowed scuba gear, I’d still tip the Cats.
Gold Coast, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Richmond, Fremantle, Geelong, Brisbane, West Coast, Collingwood
In Round 13, the Gold Coast Suns will be hosting Carlton in a Friday night blockbuster. Season 2020 gets stranger as the rounds roll on.
Despite the magic that was Jack Newnes’ winning goal after the siren, Carlton has had just an okay month or so. The Suns haven’t had much luck either in terms of results, but they’ve really had a crack. This game is a real 50-50 – Carlton will come off a six-day break on the back of returning from Perth, while the Suns have just a four-day break. I’m truly lost but will try make more sense of this game in my preview. In short, I’ll tip the Suns.
As for Freo, well there is still a lot to like about the way they go about their football. The tackling and defensive pressure they showed inside their forward 50 on the weekend was some of the best I’ve seen all season. They should bounce back against the Swans on the weekend.
Although last Friday night’s game didn’t quite live up to its blockbuster promise, Port and Geelong are still the teams to beat this season. There’s also West Coast, who look unstoppable and will probably make the most of their last game at home before returning to Queensland. I’ve tipped all three this weekend, as well as Brisbane – the Lions should come out firing after that narrow victory over North.
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Saturday afternoon between Melbourne and the Bulldogs comes down to tipping the team you trust more, which is virtually impossible. You can’t argue against the Dees’ previous few weeks but knowing their history, they could let this one slip because they’ll go in as favourites.
It should be a pretty straightforward win for Richmond, who will play Essendon in the Northern Territory in honour of Indigenous round.
And you know what? If North come out and play the way they did against Brisbane they should beat Collingwood – but the thought of relying on my club for anything other than letting me down in 2020 stops me from tipping them.
Carlton, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Richmond, Fremantle, Geelong, Brisbane, West Coast, Collingwood
Normality returns. After a wild 20 days of football, we’re back (briefly) to a normal-ish Friday through Monday round of football. It’s also a week where I need to reset my tips after a horror round.
We begin with what should be an exciting clash between two teams who – mathematically – are likely for finals but are realistically a year (or two) away. The Suns haven’t won since Round 7 but showed patches of encouraging form against both Essendon and Richmond in the past fortnight, while the Blues are playing away but did secure a controversial victory last week over Freo. Off the back of that, I’ll reluctantly tip them.
Melbourne are on a three-game winning streak – including last week’s thrashing of the Pies – while the Bulldogs secured the seemingly obligatory win over the Crows. The Dees are favourites and their form is reason enough to tip them.
Freo are in good form but smarting after last week’s close loss as they face Sydney, who are in poor form but on a high after a brilliant win. And while the Dockers are at home, the Swans won at the venue last week. All things considered, I’m going to have to go with the Dockers, but am extremely nervous.
Brisbane and the Saints should be close to the weekend’s best game. Second versus fifth, and both are teams that can be wildly entertaining but inconsistent. At the Gabba, the Lions are favourites but that label is far from comfortable. Both teams are offensively powerful, so it should be a high-scoring clash.
A blight on Brisbane’s game is their tendency to be inaccurate, a worrisome trend up against the Saints, who are the competition’s most accurate team. In saying that, and as much as I’d love to see the Saints win, my tipping needs certainty and I’ll back the Queenslanders.
Collingwood and North close out the round and while the Pies are in horrendous form – looking more likely to miss the eight than not – they will win here.
There are four supposedly simple tips this week: Port Adelaide will bounce back from a disappointing loss and beat the Hawks at home, Richmond will have way too much class for a struggling Essendon in the Dreamtime clash, Geelong are unlikely to be the first to lose to Adelaide this season, and West Coast should beat a Giants side on the verge of missing finals.