Two trends have stood out in the last fortnight of AFL footy: low scores, and upsets aplenty. Will they continue in Round 4?

Sydney v Western Bulldogs @ SCG

Thursday 25th June, 19:40 (AEST)

SydneyWestern Bulldogs
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Jake Lloyd, Dane Rampe, Robbie FoxBBailey Williams, Alex Keath, Caleb Daniel
HBAliir Aliir, Callum Mills, Ollie FlorentHBJason Johannisen, Zaine Cordy, Hayden Crozier
CJordan Dawson, Luke Parker, Harry CunninghamCEd Richards, Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae
HFIsaac Heeney, James Rowbottom, Ben RonkeHFBailey Dale, Josh Bruce, Toby McLean
FLewis Taylor, Nick Blakey, Will HaywardFMitch Wallis, Aaron Naughton, Sam Lloyd
FOLCallum Sinclair, Josh Kennedy, Tom PapleyFOLTim English, Tom Liberatore, Bailey Smith
I/CGeorge Hewett, Hayen McLean, Sam Naismith, Justin McInerneyI/CRhylee West, Louis Butler, Laitham Vandermeer, Pat Lipinski


History:
Played 161: Sydney 78 v Western Bulldogs 82 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 1, 2019: Western Bulldogs 11.16 (82) def Sydney 9.11 (65)

Final Thoughts: Despite their young list, the Swans’ output in 2020 has been consistently strong. And while they’re still outsiders to squeeze into the eight, John Longmire’s young charges will rarely get soundly beaten such is both their structures and focus on pressure footy. They’re always in the contest. While the Bloods have won both of their away clashes in 2020, they’ve lost three of their last four games at the SCG. Can they deliver in the primetime slot?

The Dogs were impressive in bouncing back against the Giants last weekend, and kept the critics at bay for now. The last time they beat the Swans at the SCG was in 2016 – the same year they would later beat them in a drought-breaking Grand Final win.

Tip: Margin: Sydney by 1-39 @ $2.10

Greater Western Sydney v Collingwood @ Giants Stadium

Friday 26th June, 19:50 (AEST)

GWSCollingwood
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Shaw, Corr, DavisBCrisp, Roughead, Howe
HBWilliams, Taylor, HaynesHBMaynard, Moore, Noble
CPerryman, Ward, WhitfieldCDaicos, Pendlebury, Hoskin-Elliott
HFKelly, Greene, de BoerHFStephenson, Mihocek, C.Brown
FDaniels, Cameron, FinlaysonFDe Goey, Cox, Elliott
FOLMumford, Hopper, ConiglioFOLGrundy, Adams, Sidebottom
I/CAsh, Hately, Green, HimmelbergI/CMayne, Wills, T.Brown, Phillips


History:
Played 10: GWS 4 v Collingwood 6

Last Meeting: AFL Preliminary Final, 2019: Collingwood 7.10 (52) def by GWS Giants 8.8 (56)

Final Thoughts: Who could forget the last time these sides met? A pulsating preliminary final saw the Giants hang on by just four points at a wet MCG in September. But since then Leon Cameron’s side have struggled. A Grand Final humbling has been followed by a lacklustre start to season 2020. Sitting 1-2, the Giants have lengthened from $7.50 to $10 in Palmerbet’s premiership market. But they welcome back some huge ins this week, with Toby Greene (knee), Josh Kelly (calf) and Lachie Whitfield (concussion) – all vital to their fortunes last year – good to go.

Collingwood have shown they’re the team to beat thus far in season 2020, and it’s no surprise they’ve overtaken Richmond and shortened into $5.50 premiership favourites. But while they start favourites in this one, the Pies have a poor recent record against the Giants. In fact, they’ve lost four of their last five against Cameron’s men.

Tip: Line: Collingwood -3.5 @ $1.87

Port Adelaide v West Coast @ Metricon Stadium

Saturday 27th June, 13:45 (AEST)

Port AdelaideWest Coast
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
McKenzie, Clurey, BonnerBSheppard, Barrass, Hurn
HBHartlett, Jonas, Byrne-JonesHBJetta, McGovern, Duggan
CWesthoff, Wines, AmonCGaff, Yeo, Sheed
HFPowell-Pepper, Marshall, RozeeHFAh Chee, Darling, Redden
FButters, Dixon, GrayFRyan, Kennedy, Cripps
FOLLycett, Houston, BoakFOLNaitanui, Kelly, Shuey
I/CEbert, Rockliff, Motlop, FarrellI/CBrander, Hickey, Cole, Jones


History:
Played 34: Port Adelaide 19 v West Coast 15

Last Meeting: AFL Round 5, 2019: West Coast 8.5 (53) def by Port Adelaide 13.17 (95)

Final Thoughts: The Power are one of the competition’s form teams, and the only side to register three wins from the opening three rounds. Their form has seen Ken Hinkley’s premiership hopes shorten from $21 to $10 with Palmerbet. Further, their price to make the Grand Final has come in from $10 to $4.50. Young gun Xavier Duursma will miss this clash, however, after sustaining a hamstring injury in the win over Freo.

The Eagles are struggling – plain and simple. Comments from coach Adam Simpson suggest they’re not overly happy with the hub situation on the Gold Coast, and need some clarity about what will happen post Round 5. This unease has filtered through to their on-field efforts and, sitting 1-2, have gone from $6 premiership hopes at the season re-start, now out to $13. But I’m backing them to get back on track this week.

Tip: Head-to-head: West Coast @ $2.35

St Kilda v Richmond @ Marvel Stadium

Saturday 27th June, 16:35 (AEST)

St KildaRichmond
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Coffield, Wilkie, CarlisleBVlastuin, Grimes, Astbury
HBLong, Howard, ClarkHBShort, Broad, Houli
CHill, Ross, BillingsCMcIntosh, Prestia, Caddy
HFButler, King, GreshamHFHiggins, Ross, Castagna
FMarshall, Membrey, MarshFMartin, Lynch, Riewoldt
FOLRyder, Steele, JonesFOLNankervis, Cotchin, Lambert
I/CHannebery, Paton, Lonie, BattleI/CEdwards, Baker, Bolton, Stack

 

History: Played 186: St Kilda 71 v Richmond 112 (3 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 15, 2019: St Kilda 10.10 (70) def by Richmond 16.7 (103)

Final Thoughts: Is it time to worry yet at Punt Road, or was Round 3 just a minor blip? Starting as strong $1.39 favourites, Richmond were towelled up by the Hawks in a performance that didn’t instil much faith. But we’ve been here before: Damien Hardwick’s side were slow starters last season yet kicked into gear at the right time, culminating in a second flag in three years. Pleasingly for Hardwick, Dustin Martin and Liam Baker should both return.

The Saints were brought back to earth by the Pies last weekend so this will be a good marker on where the club is actually at. Will we see a return of the free-flowing footy in their win over the Dogs?

Tip: Margin: Richmond by 1-39pts @ $1.83

Essendon v Carlton @ MCG

Saturday 27th June, 19:40 (AEST)

EssendonCarlton
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Francis, Hooker, HurleyBSimpson, Jones, Plowman
HBSaad, Redman, RidleyHBPetrevski-Seton, Weitering, Docherty
CCutler, Merrett, ZaharakisCMurphy, Cripps, Newnes
HFSmith, Snelling, McDonald-TipungwutiHFGibbons, Casboult, Martin
FStringer, McKernan, TownsendFBetts, McGovern, Cuningham
FOLBellchambers, McGrath, ShielFOLPittonet, Walsh, Curnow
I/CGleeson, Parish, Langford, FantasiaI/CWilliamson, Silvagni, Setterfield, Philp


History:
Played 248: Essendon 118 v Carlton 124 (6 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 11, 2019: Essendon 11.8 (74) def Carlton 4.9 (33)

Final Thoughts: After a rollercoaster week and some uncertainty whether this clash would actually go ahead, the Bombers will take to the field against Carlton despite the positive (then negative) COVID test for Irishman Connor McKenna. Most pleasingly for John Worsfold is that only McKenna and James Stewart won’t be available for selection as the Dons avoided a potentially disastrous situation of bulk quarantining. The biggest question is how they’ll respond to the turmoil. It will have been 13 days since they last played when they take to the MCG on Saturday night, and it’s unclear whether the extra rest will be a hinder or help to their chances.

The Blues are riding high after their first win in Geelong since 1996. Despite the shock win, they still couldn’t put together a four-quarter effort, something they’ve arguably never done under David Teague. For another four points, they might have to.

Tip: Line: Essendon -2.5 @ $1.87

Gold Coast v Fremantle @ Metricon Stadium

Saturday 27th June, 19:40 (AEST)

Gold CoastFremantle
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Budarick, Collins, LukosiusBHill, Logue, Conca
HBHanley, Ballard, HarbrowHBWilson, Ryan, Hughes
CWeller, Greenwood, AndersonCBewley, Fyfe, Aish
HFPowell, Day, B.EllisHFSchult, Taberner, Serong
FSexton, King, AinsworthFColyer, Hogan, Walters
FOLWitts, Swallow, RowellFOLLobb, Brayshaw, Tucker
I/CBowes, Miller, Holman, MacPhersonI/CMatera, Mundy, Cerra, Young

 

History: Played 10: Gold Coast 3 v Fremantle 7

Last Meeting: AFL Round 2, 2019: Gold Coast 7.19 (61) def Fremantle 8.10 (58)

Final Thoughts: The Suns are flavour of the month in AFL circles and are suddenly everyone’s second-favourite side. After a prolonged period of pain, things are finally looking up on the Gold Coast, and their young brigade – let by Matt Rowell – are to thank. Rowell has incredibly shortened into $1.10 for the Rising Star after just three rounds. Could the precocious midfielder cop a tag in just his fourth game? The Suns themselves have shifted from $1.75 to $7.50 in the ‘least wins’ market.

The Dockers are already struggling under new coach Justin Longmuir, one of just two sides to sit on zero wins at this stage of the season. In the aforementioned ‘least wins’ market, they’ve shortened from $9 into $4.20. Skipper Nat Fyfe was brilliant once again against Port Adelaide but is in desperate need to some assistance to register their first points of 2020.

Tip: Line/Total Points Double: Gold Coast -5.5 / Under 126.5 @ $3.60

Brisbane v Adelaide @ Gabba

Sunday 28th June, 13:05 (AEST)

BrisbaneAdelaide
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
R.Lester, H.Andrews, D.GardinerBJ.Kelly, D.Talia, L.Brown
HBD.Rich, G.Birchall, C.Ah CheeHBT.Doedee, F.McAsey, R.Laird
CM.Robinson, J.Berry, H.McCluggageCB.Smith, R.Sloane, W.Hamill
HFL.McCarthy, E.Hipwood, C.RaynerHFB.Keays, T.Lynch, C.Jones
FO.McInerney, D.McStay, C.CameronFB.Crocker, D.Fogarty, L.Murphy
FOLA.Smith, J.Lyons, L.NealeFOLR.O’Brien, N.McHenry, B.Crouch
I/CT.Berry, D.Zorko, M.Hinge, C.Ellis-Yolmen, A.Witherden, Z.Bailey, B.Starcevich, C.BallendenI/CM.Crouch, B.Gibbs, M.Poholke, T.Walker, K.Hartigan, B.Frampton, S.McAdam, E.Himmelberg


History:
Played 33: Brisbane 16 v Adelaide 17

Last Meeting: AFL Round 9, 2019: Brisbane 13.15 (93) def Adelaide 13.14 (92)

Final Thoughts: Do the Lions now, officially, have the AFL’s best midfield? After accounting for West Coast fairly comfortably in Round 3, Chris Fagan’s side certainly look the goods. And it shows in the markets. In the last fortnight, the Lions have shortened from $15 into $10 with Palmerbet. Both Stefan Martin and Dayne Zorko will be put through their paces prior to selection, potentially bolstering an already strong available list.

That doesn’t spell good news for the Crows, who are on the ropes. Humbled by the Suns last weekend, Matthew Nicks’ side have – in just two weeks – shortened from $10 into $1.83 in Palmerbet’s ‘least wins’ market. They’re in desperate need of circuit breaker, but it’s very hard to see that happening at the Gabba this weekend.

Tip: Margin: Brisbane by 40+ @ $2.30

Melbourne v Geelong @ MCG

Sunday 28th June, 15:35 (AEST)

MelbourneGeelong
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
T.Rivers, S.May, C.SalemBJ.Kolodjashnij, M.Blicavs, J.Henry
HBJ.Smith, J.Lever, J.HarmesHBM.O’Connor, T.Stewart, J.Bews
CE.Langdon, C.Oliver, A.TomlinsonCS.Menegola, P.Dangerfield, J.Selwood
HFM.Hannan, J.Melksham, A.vandenBergHFT.Atkins, G.Rohan, M.Duncan
FB.Fritsch, J.Hunt, T.McDonaldFE.Ratugolea, T.Hawkins, G.Miers
FOLM.Gawn, C.Petracca, J.VineyFOLD.Fort, G.Ablett, C.Guthrie
I/CN.Jones, L.Jackson, A.Brayshaw, M.Hibberd, A.Neal-Bullen, N.Jetta, K.Pickett, J.LockhartI/CZ.Tuohy, L.Henderson, Q.Narkle, J.Parsons, B.Parfitt, J.Steven, J.Clark, L.Dahlhaus


History:
Played 218: Melbourne 85 v Geelong 131 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 2, 2019: Geelong 20.6 (126) def Melbourne 6.10 (46)

Final Thoughts: It’s been a frustrating week for the Dees, forced to have an intra-club practice match last weekend after the COVID controversy that plagued opponents Essendon. The biggest question for Simon Goodwin’s side is how they’ll respond. Will the break have served them well, or see them rusty when they take to the MCG? The only sample size they’ve offered so far was their rollercoaster win over Carlton in Round 2, which showed their best and worst. Which Dees side shows up this weekend is anyone’s guess.

Similarly, it’s difficult to know which Geelong will turn up. The one who turned it on against Hawthorn in Round 2, or the ones who were truly awful against the Blues? It’s not a new issue for Chris Scott; their troubles in winning consecutive games is well known. If fact, they haven’t done so since Round 12 last season. How they respond on Sunday will be watched closely.

Tip:  Head to Head/Total Points Double: Geelong/Under 137.5 @ $2.75

Hawthorn v North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium

Sunday 28th June, 18:05 (AEST)

HawthornNorth Melbourne
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
J.Sicily, J.Frawley, B.HardwickBL.McDonald, R.Tarrant, K.Hayden
HBB.Stratton, B.McEvoy, S.BurgoyneHBJ.Pittard, J.Walker, S.Atley
CR.Henderson, J.Worpel, I.SmithCT.Dumont, B.Cunnington, J.Polec
HFT.Scully, T.O’Brien, L.BreustHFT.Thomas, C.Zurhaar, J.Ziebell
FJ.Gunston, S.Frost, C.WingardFA.Hall, B.Brown, J.Simpkin
FOLJ.Ceglar, T.MItchell, J.O’MearaFOLT.Goldstein, S.Higgins, J.Anderson
I/CJ.Scrimshaw, O.Hanrahan, H.Morrison, J.Patton, L.Shiels, M.Lewis, H.Jones, P.PuopoloI/CM.Williams, P.Ahern, A.Bonar, C.Taylor, J.Macmillan, J.Mahony, T.Xerri, T.Campbell


History:
Played 176: Hawthorn 97 v North Melbourne 77 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 20, 2019: North Melbourne 12.14 (86) def Hawthorn 9.10 (64)

Final Thoughts: Like several other clubs, the Hawks have thrown up two hugely contrasting performances in the two games back since the COVID hiatus. A Round 2 humbling at the hands of Geelong was followed by a simply brilliant return against premiers Richmond, comfortably claiming a win by 32 points. Which Hawthorn will turn up this week? Veteran forward Paul Puopolo (calf) should return.

North started strongly against the Swans last week but fell away badly. Whether their drop-off is cause for concern is not yet known, but Rhyce Shaw will be looking for a return to the same intensity from a fortnight ago in Sydney when they powered past GWS.

I’m predicting this to be a tight one, and will use the ‘Game Saver’ token for the final match of the round.

Tip: Margin: North Melbourne by 1-39 @2.75