Two trends have stood out in the last fortnight of AFL footy: low scores, and upsets aplenty. Will they continue in Round 4?
Thursday 25th June, 19:40 (AEST)
|Jake Lloyd, Dane Rampe, Robbie Fox||B||Bailey Williams, Alex Keath, Caleb Daniel|
|HB||Aliir Aliir, Callum Mills, Ollie Florent||HB||Jason Johannisen, Zaine Cordy, Hayden Crozier|
|C||Jordan Dawson, Luke Parker, Harry Cunningham||C||Ed Richards, Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae|
|HF||Isaac Heeney, James Rowbottom, Ben Ronke||HF||Bailey Dale, Josh Bruce, Toby McLean|
|F||Lewis Taylor, Nick Blakey, Will Hayward||F||Mitch Wallis, Aaron Naughton, Sam Lloyd|
|FOL||Callum Sinclair, Josh Kennedy, Tom Papley||FOL||Tim English, Tom Liberatore, Bailey Smith|
|I/C||George Hewett, Hayen McLean, Sam Naismith, Justin McInerney||I/C||Rhylee 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.
Friday 26th June, 19:50 (AEST)
|Shaw, Corr, Davis||B||Crisp, Roughead, Howe|
|HB||Williams, Taylor, Haynes||HB||Maynard, Moore, Noble|
|C||Perryman, Ward, Whitfield||C||Daicos, Pendlebury, Hoskin-Elliott|
|HF||Kelly, Greene, de Boer||HF||Stephenson, Mihocek, C.Brown|
|F||Daniels, Cameron, Finlayson||F||De Goey, Cox, Elliott|
|FOL||Mumford, Hopper, Coniglio||FOL||Grundy, Adams, Sidebottom|
|I/C||Ash, Hately, Green, Himmelberg||I/C||Mayne, 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.
Saturday 27th June, 13:45 (AEST)
|Port Adelaide||West Coast|
|McKenzie, Clurey, Bonner||B||Sheppard, Barrass, Hurn|
|HB||Hartlett, Jonas, Byrne-Jones||HB||Jetta, McGovern, Duggan|
|C||Westhoff, Wines, Amon||C||Gaff, Yeo, Sheed|
|HF||Powell-Pepper, Marshall, Rozee||HF||Ah Chee, Darling, Redden|
|F||Butters, Dixon, Gray||F||Ryan, Kennedy, Cripps|
|FOL||Lycett, Houston, Boak||FOL||Naitanui, Kelly, Shuey|
|I/C||Ebert, Rockliff, Motlop, Farrell||I/C||Brander, 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.
Saturday 27th June, 16:35 (AEST)
|Coffield, Wilkie, Carlisle||B||Vlastuin, Grimes, Astbury|
|HB||Long, Howard, Clark||HB||Short, Broad, Houli|
|C||Hill, Ross, Billings||C||McIntosh, Prestia, Caddy|
|HF||Butler, King, Gresham||HF||Higgins, Ross, Castagna|
|F||Marshall, Membrey, Marsh||F||Martin, Lynch, Riewoldt|
|FOL||Ryder, Steele, Jones||FOL||Nankervis, Cotchin, Lambert|
|I/C||Hannebery, Paton, Lonie, Battle||I/C||Edwards, 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?
Saturday 27th June, 19:40 (AEST)
|Francis, Hooker, Hurley||B||Simpson, Jones, Plowman|
|HB||Saad, Redman, Ridley||HB||Petrevski-Seton, Weitering, Docherty|
|C||Cutler, Merrett, Zaharakis||C||Murphy, Cripps, Newnes|
|HF||Smith, Snelling, McDonald-Tipungwuti||HF||Gibbons, Casboult, Martin|
|F||Stringer, McKernan, Townsend||F||Betts, McGovern, Cuningham|
|FOL||Bellchambers, McGrath, Shiel||FOL||Pittonet, Walsh, Curnow|
|I/C||Gleeson, Parish, Langford, Fantasia||I/C||Williamson, 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.
Saturday 27th June, 19:40 (AEST)
|Budarick, Collins, Lukosius||B||Hill, Logue, Conca|
|HB||Hanley, Ballard, Harbrow||HB||Wilson, Ryan, Hughes|
|C||Weller, Greenwood, Anderson||C||Bewley, Fyfe, Aish|
|HF||Powell, Day, B.Ellis||HF||Schult, Taberner, Serong|
|F||Sexton, King, Ainsworth||F||Colyer, Hogan, Walters|
|FOL||Witts, Swallow, Rowell||FOL||Lobb, Brayshaw, Tucker|
|I/C||Bowes, Miller, Holman, MacPherson||I/C||Matera, 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.
Sunday 28th June, 13:05 (AEST)
|R.Lester, H.Andrews, D.Gardiner||B||J.Kelly, D.Talia, L.Brown|
|HB||D.Rich, G.Birchall, C.Ah Chee||HB||T.Doedee, F.McAsey, R.Laird|
|C||M.Robinson, J.Berry, H.McCluggage||C||B.Smith, R.Sloane, W.Hamill|
|HF||L.McCarthy, E.Hipwood, C.Rayner||HF||B.Keays, T.Lynch, C.Jones|
|F||O.McInerney, D.McStay, C.Cameron||F||B.Crocker, D.Fogarty, L.Murphy|
|FOL||A.Smith, J.Lyons, L.Neale||FOL||R.O’Brien, N.McHenry, B.Crouch|
|I/C||T.Berry, D.Zorko, M.Hinge, C.Ellis-Yolmen, A.Witherden, Z.Bailey, B.Starcevich, C.Ballenden||I/C||M.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.
Sunday 28th June, 15:35 (AEST)
|T.Rivers, S.May, C.Salem||B||J.Kolodjashnij, M.Blicavs, J.Henry|
|HB||J.Smith, J.Lever, J.Harmes||HB||M.O’Connor, T.Stewart, J.Bews|
|C||E.Langdon, C.Oliver, A.Tomlinson||C||S.Menegola, P.Dangerfield, J.Selwood|
|HF||M.Hannan, J.Melksham, A.vandenBerg||HF||T.Atkins, G.Rohan, M.Duncan|
|F||B.Fritsch, J.Hunt, T.McDonald||F||E.Ratugolea, T.Hawkins, G.Miers|
|FOL||M.Gawn, C.Petracca, J.Viney||FOL||D.Fort, G.Ablett, C.Guthrie|
|I/C||N.Jones, L.Jackson, A.Brayshaw, M.Hibberd, A.Neal-Bullen, N.Jetta, K.Pickett, J.Lockhart||I/C||Z.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.
Sunday 28th June, 18:05 (AEST)
|J.Sicily, J.Frawley, B.Hardwick||B||L.McDonald, R.Tarrant, K.Hayden|
|HB||B.Stratton, B.McEvoy, S.Burgoyne||HB||J.Pittard, J.Walker, S.Atley|
|C||R.Henderson, J.Worpel, I.Smith||C||T.Dumont, B.Cunnington, J.Polec|
|HF||T.Scully, T.O’Brien, L.Breust||HF||T.Thomas, C.Zurhaar, J.Ziebell|
|F||J.Gunston, S.Frost, C.Wingard||F||A.Hall, B.Brown, J.Simpkin|
|FOL||J.Ceglar, T.MItchell, J.O’Meara||FOL||T.Goldstein, S.Higgins, J.Anderson|
|I/C||J.Scrimshaw, O.Hanrahan, H.Morrison, J.Patton, L.Shiels, M.Lewis, H.Jones, P.Puopolo||I/C||M.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.